China fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tion is New York smash hit

The China Post - - ARTS -

A New York ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plor­ing Chi­nese in­flu­ence on Western fash­ion has be­come a sum­mer smash- hit, at­tract­ing a record 670,000 visi­tors in a sign of China’s grow­ing clout in Amer­ica.

Spread across 16 gal­leries, “China: Through the Look­ing Glass,” is the most vis­ited show at the Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art’s Cos­tume In­sti­tute and has been ex­tended for three weeks.

It broke the pre­vi­ous record set by a 2011 show cel­e­brat­ing the late Bri­tish de­signer Alexan­der McQueen, which went on dis­play shortly af­ter his tragic death, the mu­seum said.

By the week­end, more than 670,000 visi­tors had flocked to the China ex­hi­bi­tion, com­pared to 661,509 for McQueen and has been ex­tended un­til Sept. 7, the Met an­nounced.

“As China’s role po­lit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally has grown on the world stage it’s very clear that peo­ple want to know more about the cul­ture out of which that re­cent suc­cess has been spawned,” ex­plained Maxwell Hearn, head of the Met’s Asian art depart­ment.

The ex­hi­bi­tion opened on May 7, and ex­plores the im­pact of Chi­nese aes­thet­ics on Western fash­ion and how China has fu­eled the fash­ion imag­i­na­tion for cen­turies.

It jux­ta­poses some of the world’s finest haute cou­ture with jew­elry and works of Chi­nese art, fo­cus­ing on Im­pe­rial China, 1920-40s Shang­hai and the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China.

Hearn at­tributes its phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess to a unique cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the fash­ion and Asian art de­part­ments.

There is a bam­boo for­est made out of plex­i­glass, a tra­di­tional Chi­nese gar­den court has been trans­formed into a moon­lit pool where John Gal­liano dresses ap­pear to float over the sur­face.

There is an ar­ray of cin­e­matic clips. The shoul­ders of an Yves Saint Lau­rent evening jacket have been picked out in the pat­tern on a 5th cen­tury B.C. bronze ves­sel.

The dec­o­ra­tion on a 1950s Dior dress is inspired by Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy drawn from a poem com­plain­ing about a stom­ach ache.

China was also the theme of this year’s Met Ball, which kicked off the ex­hi­bi­tion and acts as the In­sti­tute’s an­nual fundraiser, the most glit­ter­ing event in New York high so­ci­ety.

“I think China is some­thing ev­ery­body is in­ter­ested in,” Hearn told AFP.

“To see how China has been an ob­ses­sion, cer­tainly a source of in­spi­ra­tion for cen­turies is some­thing that re­ally comes across.”

Af­ter French and Span­ish, Chi­nese is the most sought-af­ter lan­guage at U.S. sec­ondary schools, he said.

There is also a huge in­flux of Chi­nese tourists, who want to see how China is rep­re­sented in a Western mu­seum, he added.

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