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Inside the Met's 'Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion' exhibition

Inside the Met's 'Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion' exhibition


In the middle of Cardi B's colossal arrival And Doja Cat's wet Vetements lookMonday's Met Gala offered a veritable celebration for the opening of the Costume Institute's spring 2024 exhibition, The Sleeping Beauties: the awakening of fashion. The massive display case, which houses around 220 garments and accessories made over four different centuries, “reactivates the sensory capabilities of the masterpieces in the museum's collection through first-hand research, conservation analysis and various technologies”. May 10.

“When a garment enters the Costume Institute collection, its status is changed forever,” reads the exhibition description. “What was once a vital part of a person's life is now an immobile work of art that can no longer be worn, heard, touched or smelled. »

The exhibition aims to revive these historic fashion pieces with a host of technical tools, including artificial intelligence, computer-generated imagery, x-rays, video animation, light projection and soundscapes. Brought together under the theme of nature, the gallery is organized into three categories: earth, air and water with subdivisions focusing on motifs like “poppies”, “shells” and “mermaids”. “In many ways, nature serves as the ultimate metaphor for fashion, its rebirth, renewal and cyclicality as well as its ephemeral, ephemeral and evanescent nature,” the museum said.

Fragrance expert and consultant Sissel Tolaas replicated the exact aromas of certain dresses and specific people (like Paul Poiret's muse Denise Poiret and heiress Millicent Rogers) by extracting molecules via microfilters. Guests can smell coumarin, a component of tobacco and hay, and benzaldehyde, a fragment of honey and almonds, in Dior and Lanvin dresses, respectively.

Elsewhere, socialite Natalie Potter's 1931 Callot Souers wedding dress comes with its own version of ChatGPT, which allows visitors to ask the “mermaid bride” their own questions. Yves Saint Laurent's spring 1988 “Iris” haute couture dress, which “involved 600 hours of manual labor, 250 meters of ribbon, 200,000 beads and 250,000 sequins in 22 colors,” is on display with a projection of the craftsmanship of the dress, made possible by CGI with 11,200 images. SHOWstudio's Nick Knight served as a consultant for many of the showcase's tech activations, which also include an AI-designed video of beetles chatting with a Dries Van Noten coat.

Several pieces from Francesco Risso's spring 2024 collection for Marni are sprayed with a fragrance from perfumer Daniela Andrier, who concocted an aroma inspired by Risso's “chance meeting with a young man during a visit to Paris at the 'age of fourteen years'. From the same season, Jun Takahashi's 3D-printed butterfly dress from his “Deep Mist” collection for Undercover speaks for the exhibition's environmental mood board, as do a myriad of insect-covered French buttons dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Here, “sleeping beauties” is the term used for a historical garment that is too delicate to be dressed on a mannequin and should instead be displayed lying down. “Sleep is an essential balm to a person's well-being and survival, but as in life, it requires a suspension of the senses that equivocates between life and death,” the Institute added. “The exhibition reminds us that the fashions presented, although destined for eternal sleep in the safety of the museum walls, do not forget their sensory history.”

The Sleeping Beauties: the awakening of fashion will be open at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 10 to September 2. Take a look inside via the gallery above.




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