The Metropolitan Museum of Art - China: Through the Looking Glass (Part 2)
Through a series of four blog posts, EXIT Realty Landmark will take you through each gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fashion exhibit, giving you a peak of this grand event. This year’s theme is China: Through the Looking Glass, showcasing how Chinese art, culture, and history inspired haute couture. If you happen to be in New York City between now and September 7, you don’t want to miss it. If you don’t have a chance to see it, hopefully you will enjoy reading this blog series.
Anna May Wong
After venturing through the lower floors of this exhibit, we arrive at the second floor where we encounter more singing. This time, the woman’s voice is singing in a tone somewhat similar to opera, but not quite. Displayed in front of you are various outfits inspired by those worn by Anna May Wong in movies. Anna May Wong is a perfect representation of this exhibit, because she was the first Chinese-American actress who gained international attention. Anna May Wong was loved in Europe for being so outstanding. She inspired lots of avant-garde fashion pieces by luxury designer brands. This gallery shows the inspired European designer dress with a photo of Anna May Wong’s actual outfit above it.
China was known for trading silk, especially over the Silk Road, so Chinese silk was seen as a luxury in Europe. This gallery shows intricate Chinese embroidery on scarves and other textiles. The designs are so elaborate that some details are smaller than your fingernail. On the opposite side of the gallery are European silk textiles. Farther down in the exhibit are modern takes on silk clothing. Modern versions use beads and sequins giving the outfit a flashier look. There are also pieces made from printed silk. The exhibit shows both European royalty dresses and chic trench coats.
Moon in the Water
Located in the heart the whole exhibit, this gallery truly brings out theme of Through the Looking Glass. For the Chinese name of this exhibit, “Through the Looking Glass” is translated to a phrase in Chinese which means “Moon in the Water.” This is a metaphor to describe things that are so beautiful it can be deceptive. This gallery is designed with glossy black floor tiles representing the surface of a pond. It reflects the moon image on the ceiling, creating the effect of moon in the water. The Met carefully designs the walkway around the “pond” to look like a traditional Chinese imperial garden. You can occasionally hear background audio of water droplets too. Within this “pond” are figurines wearing outfits that show the graceful aspects of a pond, such as the fish, the waves, and the color.
A small room behind the “pond” screams red (red walls, red lights, red furniture, red dresses) as red is a symbolic color for China. Mannequins wearing sheer lace dresses with elaborate designs are posing against red-colored furniture from the Ming dynasty. In the back is a television showing clips of Chinese opera performers, whose makeup also focuses on red.
Been here already? Share in the comments section what was your favorite part about these galleries!
Part 1 here
Part 3 here
Part 4 here