Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Life -

Since the time of an­cient Greece (maybe even be­fore that), we’ve been ob­sessed by our own re­flec­tion, of­ten gaz­ing at it in front of a mir­ror – or in Nar­cis­sus’s case, a river. Van­ity sets and dress­ing ta­bles have been around since the Bronze Age and con­tinue to evolve with us as we head into the Space Age. The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art’s fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hi­bi­tion ‘ Van­i­ties: The His­tory of the Dress­ing Ta­ble’ re­minds us of this. First, it takes vis­i­tors on an ex­otic jour­ney from an­cient Egypt through to Asia where cos­met­ics were im­mensely pop­u­lar and re­main so till to­day. Then there’s the mar­velous collection of items cre­ated through the cen­turies, specif­i­cally de­signed for men and women to use while pre­par­ing to dress, from the most ba­sic ta­ble-and-mir­ror to lux­u­ri­ous ob­jects that are also pow­er­ful state­ment pieces, re­veal­ing so much more about the chang­ing so­cial cus­toms of dif­fer­ent eras. ‘ Van­i­ties: The His­tory of the Dress­ing Ta­ble’ runs till April 13 at the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art, New York. www.met­mu­seum.org

Le Bon­heur du Jour ou Les Graces á la Mode, 1924, Ge­orge Bar­bier

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