NEW YORK, NY.-
The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion, the spring 2009 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
, explores the reciprocal relationship between high fashion and evolving ideals of beauty, focusing on iconic fashion models in the latter half of the 20th century and their roles in projecting, and sometimes inspiring, the fashion of their respective eras. The exhibition is on view at the Metropolitan from May 6 through August 9, 2009.
"The exhibition examines a timeline of fashion from 1947 to 1997 through the idealized aesthetic of the fashion model," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "We look at the power of clothing, fashion photography, and the model to project the look of an era. With a mere gesture, a truly stellar model can sum up the attitude of her time becoming not only a muse to designers or photographers, but a muse to a generation."
The exhibition features approximately 80 masterworks of haute couture and ready-to-wear. Fashion editorial, advertising, and runway photography plus large- scale projections from feature films are used throughout the galleries to contextualize the fashion zeitgeist.
The exhibition, in the Museum's second-floor Tisch Galleries, explores how models transmit cultural change via photographs that document turning points in society and design. With the post-WWII resurgence of the American fashion and advertising industries, the launch of Dior's New Look and a proliferation of model agencies, an environment in which high-fashion models with celebrated personalities and distinctive identities emerged. Lisa Fonssagrives, Dovima, Suzy Parker, Sunny Harnett, and Dorian Leigh personified this Golden Age of Haute Couture. Photographers such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Cecil Beaton portrayed the new ideal of feminine artifice. Daywear from Christian Dior and eveningwear from Charles James evoke the mood of the time, and in some cases, recreate scenes from important photographs.
A large gallery inspired by William Klein's 1966 film Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? evokes the Sixties "Youthquake" with Bernard and François Baschet's metallic dresses from the movie and ensembles from Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges, and Rudi Gernreich, designers who heralded the transformation from a sophisticated to a youthful ideal with Jean Shrimpton, Peggy Moffitt, Veruschka, and Twiggy. The next gallery focuses on the 1970s, when athletic, All-American models such as Lisa Taylor and Jerry Hall enlivened the simple, unstructured goddess dresses of Halston, and an emerging group of ethnic beauties like Mounia and Kirat presented the haute bohemian looks of Yves Saint Laurent.
In the 1980s, supermodels expressed an idealized glamour, dissolving boundaries between runway, editorial, and advertising work. Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington emerged as the "Trinity" appearing in global campaigns for designer brands seeking to bolster their identities. These models could morph into a different persona at each photo shoot, and still manage to convey their priceless, individual distinction.
By the 1990s, grunge and street style led to a radical shift from glamorous beauty to the rebel chic of Kate Moss, much as Twiggy supplanted Jean Shrimpton in the '60s. The exhibition's presentation of the minimalism of Donna Karan, Helmut Lang, and Prada that immediately followed shows how models of this era became an anonymous cadre of replicated perfection, allowing the clothing to supersede all. A coda to the exhibition features the Richard Prince and Marc Jacobs collaboration of masked, anonymous nurses (Stephanie Seymour and Natalia Vodianova) in Louis Vuitton, versus selections from John Galliano's 2007 supermodel-fueled runway show in Versailles for the 60th anniversary of Christian Dior.
Designers in the exhibition include Giorgio Armani, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, André Courrèges, Christian Dior, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Rudi Gernreich, Halston, Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis and Louis Vuitton, Charles James, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio di Sant'Angelo, and Gianni Versace.
Iconic models featured include Nadja Auermann, Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Dovima, Linda Evangelista, Lisa Fonssagrives, Jerry Hall, Shalom Harlow, Sunny Harnett, Lauren Hutton, Iman, Dorian Leigh, Donyale Luna, Peggy Moffitt, Kate Moss, Suzy Parker, Jean Shrimpton, Christy Turlington, Twiggy, Amber Valletta, and Veruschka, among others.
Photographers whose images capture the mood of fashion via their subjects, and whose work is in the exhibition, include Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Cecil Beaton, Gilles Bensimon, William Claxton, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, Hiro, William Klein, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn, Gösta Peterson, Franco Rubartelli, Francesco Scavullo, Melvin Sokolsky, Bert Stern, Juergen Teller, Deborah Turbeville, Ellen von Unwerth, and Chris Von Wangenheim.