Sunday, May 9, 2010


Last Monday at work, we were all hovered around our computers refreshing Wire Image every few seconds to see the beautiful outcomes of all the work put into the The Met Ball. We kept fighting with our New York, London, Paris, and Milan offices for control over the log-in, kicking each other off and then getting kicked off again!
Everyone looked lovely, but I must say that the true mark of style (and indeed of character) is a sense of propriety. The Met Ball is a beautiful event, not just on the fashion aesthetic surface, but on the deeper level of what the Ball really represents. As an American woman, and especially as a scholar of history, I am very moved by what the celebration actually is: a fundraising event to finance the Museum’s exhibits and honor our history and humanity.
In the old days, only sincere patrons and lovers of the arts attended the Ball, and with one purpose: to support the Museum. Today, it is sometimes easy to forget the real meaning of the Ball with the celebrity and fashion parade surrounding it. To be sure, all should be welcome to celebrate this magnificent institution, and I think it is wonderful that the general public has been made aware of an event that once was exclusive to New York society. But we must give honor to the Museum and what it symbolizes by not letting it become an indulgent circus. This red carpet is not the one upon which to manifest one’s most self-centered creative expression. That can be for premieres and awards shows and other less formal events. Even the outrageous Lady Gaga knew this and respected it, forgoing the red carpet and seating herself quietly at the dinner in shockingly minimal hair and make-up. She was barely recognizable from the theatrical adornment of her VMA and Grammy appearances, which were appropriate for those venues, but not for the Met.
The most beautiful women of the night were those that respected the formality and tradition of the Ball by embodying a demure classicism, like Taylor Swift, and old-fashioned glamour, like Jennifer Lopez. Of course, no one represented this more, or looked more stunning, than the hostess herself, Oprah Winfrey. During her red carpet interviews, she encouraged attendees and press to “not get lost in the glamour of the event, but to really look at the exhibit”.
Indeed, so much work has gone into the exhibit from scholars, production designers, and curators it would be a terrible tragedy to have the incredible privilege to be invited and not appreciate the exhibit. When we received the official press release at work, it moved me deeply to think how lucky the attendees were, and I hope everyone who can go does so and fully absorbs the beauty of the exhibit.

Oscar de la Renta and Oprah Winfrey in his design
Anna Wintour in Chanel Haute Couture and Bee Schaffer in Balenciaga

Lily Collins in Chanel Haute Couture
Coco Rocha in Zac Posen
Amber Valetta in RM Roland Mouret
Lily Donaldson in Marc Jacobs
Caroline Trentini in Stavropoulos
Donatella Versace in Versace Atelier
Nicole Richie in Marc Jacobs
Lauren Santo Domingo in Proenza Schouler
Michael Kors with Brooke Sheilds in his design
Kristen Davis in Rochas

Keren Craig, Eva Longoria Parker, and Georgina Chapman all in Marchesa
Sienna Miller in Emilio Pucci with Jude Law
Donna Karan in her design
Zoe Saldana, Francisco Costa, and Diane Kruger in Calvin Klein
Kerry Washington in Marchesa
Karlie Kloss in Donna Karan
Prabal Gurung and Hilary Rhoda in his design
Gwen Stefani in L.A.M.B. and Gavin Rossdale
Melissa George in J. Mendel
Camilla Belle with Jason Wu in his design
Sarah Jessica Parker in Halston
Chanel Iman in Michael Kors
Iman in Prada
Riley Keogh with Thakoon in his design
Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad
Stella McCartney, Liv Tyler, and Kate Hudson in Stella McCartney
Rachel Zoe in Marc Jacobs
Marion cotillard in Dior Couture
Blake Lively in Marchesa
Mary J. Blige in J. Mendel
Karolina Kurkova with Joseph Altazurra in his design
Alessanra Ambrosia in Versace
Giselle Bundchen in Alexander Wang for the GAP with Tom Brady
Valentino's Pier Paolo Piccolo and Maria Grazia Chiuri 
with Anne Hathaway in Valentino and Kate Bosworth in Valentino Haute Couture
Renee Zellwegger in Carolina Herrera
Naomi Campbell in Dolce & Gabbana
Mayor Bloomberg with Diana Taylor in Oscar de la Renta
Kerry Washington in Thakoon for the GAP
Tom Ford
Dree Hemingway in Calvin Klein
Patrick Robinson 
David Lauren and Lauren Bush in Ralph Lauren
Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenburg in her own design
Margherita Missoni in Missoni
Taylor Swift in Ralph Lauren

"American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" at Metropolitan Museum to Open May 5, 2010; First Costume Institute Exhibition Based on Renowned Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection

  • Gala Benefit May 3, 2010, with Co-Chairs Oprah Winfrey, Patrick Robinson, and Anna Wintour
  • Exhibition dates: May 5–August 15, 2010
  • Press preview: Monday, May 3, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.

The spring 2010 exhibition organized by The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, the first drawn from the newly established Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met. The exhibition, on view from May 5 through August 15, 2010, explores developing perceptions of the modern American woman from the 1890s to the 1940s, and how they have affected the way American women are seen today. Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition reveals how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sartorial emancipation. Early mass-media representations of American women established the fundamental characteristics of American style – a theme explored via a multimedia installation in the final gallery.
The exhibition is made possible by Gap.
Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.
To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Museum's Costume Institute Gala Benefit takes place on Monday, May 3, 2010. The evening's Co-Chairs are Oprah Winfrey; Patrick Robinson, Executive Vice President of Global Design for Gap; and Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. This fundraising event is The Costume Institute's main source of annual funding for exhibitions, operations, and capital improvements.
"The ideal of the American woman evolved from a dependence on European, Old World view of elegance into an independent New World sensibility that reflected freedoms still associated with American women today," said Andrew Bolton, Curator of The Costume Institute. "The show looks at fashion's role in defining how American women have been represented historically, and how fashion costumes women into archetypes that persist in varying degrees of relevance."
Exhibition Overview
The exhibition features 80 examples of haute couture and high fashion primarily from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was transferred to the Met from the Brooklyn Museum in January 2009. Many of the pieces have not been seen by the public in more than 30 years.
Visitors walk through time as they enter circular galleries that reflect the milieu of each feminine archetype. Period clothing is brought to life with hand-painted panoramas animated by music, video, and lighting. The first gallery evokes the ballroom of the "Heiress" (1890s), filled with ball gowns by Charles Frederick Worth. Scenes of the great outdoors showcase the athleticism and physical independence of the "Gibson Girl" (1890s) as characterized by bathing costumes, riding ensembles, and cycling suits.
An artistic rendering of Louis Comfort Tiffany's studio in New York provides the backdrop for the "Bohemian" (early 1900s), an archetype represented by Rita Lydig and featuring her signature silk pantaloons by Callot Soeurs. The "Suffragist" and "Patriot" (1910s) have backdrops of archival film footage revealing the gradual political emancipation of women after World War I.
"Flappers" (1920s) are evoked through simple, practical chemise dresses for day by Patou, and heavily beaded styles for evening by Lanvin and Molyneux, shown against a mural of New York City inspired by the paintings of Tamara de Lempicka. Cinematic representations of the "Screen Siren" presented in a gallery resembling a 1930s cinema, showcase body-cleaving, second-skin bias-cut gowns, including a dress designed by Travis Banton for Anna May Wong in the film Limehouse Blues (1934). In the final gallery, projected images of American women from 1890 to the present explore how American style has evolved from characteristics represented by each of the exhibition's archetypes.
Designers in the exhibition include Travis Banton, Gabrielle Chanel, Callot Soeurs, Madame Eta, Elizabeth Hawes, Madame Grès, Charles James, Jeanne Lanvin, Liberty & Company, Edward Molyneux, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jessie Franklin Turner, Valentina, Madeleine Vionnet, Weeks, Charles Frederick Worth, and Jean-Philippe Worth, among others.
A concurrent exhibition of masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection,American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection, at the Brooklyn Museum (May 7–August 1, 2010) looks at 19th- and 20th-century masterworks by designers including Madame Grès, Charles James, Claire McCardell, Norman Norell, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Charles Frederick Worth collected by prominent women including Lauren Bacall, Dominique de Menil, and Millicent Rogers. Many of these pieces have never previously been exhibited. This exhibition is organized by Jan Glier Reeder, Consulting Curator of the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, with the support of Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, both of the Met's Costume Institute. Nathan Crowley, a production designer of films including The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and Public Enemies serves as the exhibition's creative consultant, as he did for the 2008 exhibitionSuperheroes: Fashion and Fantasy. Heads and wigs are created and styled by Julien d'Ys and Tamaris Kyoto. Trey Laird of Laird + Partners created the design for the final gallery in collaboration with 3-Legged Dog Media & Theater Group. The hand-painted exhibition backdrops are designed by Nathan Crowley with Jamie Rama; scenic rendering by Dana Kenn and Christopher Nowak for Center Line Studios. The graphic design of the exhibition is by Sue Koch of the Museum's Design Department.
The design for the 2010 Costume Institute Gala Benefit is created by Nathan Crowley with Raul Avila.


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