It may just be a coincidence that the Brooklyn Museum unveiled a great Dior extravaganza, " Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams " , the week before the Metropolitan Museum of Art 's Costume Institute opens its fall parade, “In America: A Lexicon of La mode.” But after two years of confinement and sweatpants, it seemed to be fate. A trendy cornucopia!
In many ways the two shows are like the faces ostuck with a coin. One is an epic - 22,000 square foot - and very glamorous ode to a single European brand, often considered the epitome of French fashion, which has passed through the hands of seven different designers. The other is a tight - 5,000 square foot - and somewhat unexpected argument for re-evaluating stereotypes around this country's style heritage, stuffed with names that most attendees will probably never have heard of. , and almost resolutely
But together, they raised some interesting questions for Vanessa Friedman, Hfrance's chief fashion critic. en, and Zachary Woolfe, the Times classical music editor, on the types of clothing that belong in a museum, and the nature of a fashion exhibit versus a runway. Analyzing responses has become an extended conversation. Image
Sets by Bstroy, the American clothing companyments for men founded in 2013 by Brick Owens and Dieter Grams, in "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion ", at the Anna Wintour Costume Center of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the show, they represent how the creators explore intimacy and collaboration. Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
VANESSA FRIEDMAN In some ways, I'm not surprised that the Met and the Brooklyn Museum have ended up with fashion shows - albeit very different - at the same time. After all, there's been a lot of talk about New York's reopening this fall, and when it comes to luring people to museums, fashion is one of the most accessible pop culture weapons. of an encyclopedic art institution.
ZACHARY WOOLFE Yes, it was hard to miss the contrast between the flashy overflow of Versailles in Brooklyn and the Met's freshly groomed window grille - too precise in their geometry as the 19th century patchwork quilt from the museum's collection that inspired the layout of the living room.
And there was another contrast : between this iteration of the Dior retrospective, which has traveled the world in changing configurations and may well continue to do so, and the one we both saw in Paris in 2017. How were the two installations different? Image At" In America: A Lexicon of Fashion "at the Met, left, an ensemble by Gabriela Hearst, a Uruguayan designer, fall 2021. Right, the css-16f3y1r e13ogyst0 ">Our Signature quilt opens the main part of the parade: "Tumbling Blocks" motif, by Adeline Harris Sears (1839-1931), begun in 1856, was signed by Abraham Lincoln. The quilts represent the multifaceted nature of the show: the many different pieces that make up a whole. Credit. .. Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
FRIEDMAN "Dream Designer " is what most people probably think of when they think of a fashion show. Tons of fairytale dresses! A certain historical and artistic context! (Not too much!) A celebrity hookup or two. (Or 20.) A sumptuous scenography.
When I saw it for the first time four years ago in Paris, I found that it was a huge successès in these settings. In fact, I learned something about Dior l 'homme, who started his career as a gallery owner. And it was compelling to present the way he established the vocabulary of the house: the extravagant yet understated femininity of the "New Look"; its lush color palette; his fascination with flowers, filigree and tarot. nt, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and now Maria Grazia Chiuri) have played with these concepts.
But this iteration - after Paris, London , Shanghai and Chengdu, with related presentations in Denver and Dallas, seem to me more and more distant from the original. It's still very bright, and I appreciated the attention it paid to Dior's first trip to America and how that country settled into his mind, but as far as I know, the The gist of the argument he now makes appears to be: The work of Maria GraziaChiuri is part of the tradition! The plus: Don't you want to buy perfume? There is an entire wall, after all, devoted to the J 'Adore sparkly dresses. Image " Le Jardin Enchante "at the Christian Dior fashion show, with a mix of haute couture through time by Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano and Raf Simons, former designers of the brand, as well as Maria Grazia Chiuri, the current artistic director. Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
WOOLFE I apologize for the obnoxious" You should have seen him in Paris! " " But it's true! There, installed at the Museum of Decorative Arts, the show had the aesthetic weightical and historical of a large museum exhibition. Dramatic tension too: in the way the brand's initial preoccupations were pushed and pulled by designers who followed the founder; in the way it was left open, in the end, exactly how the then newly appointed Chiuri would fit in. A tantalizing question mark.
Now, four years later in its tenure, the exhibit ends with an ellipse, or perhaps an emoji that looks straight ahead. Chiuri clothing, for the most part pretty and forgettable, takes up much more space on the checklist in Brooklyn, alongside Saint Laurent, who distilled the essence of Dior; Bohan, the longtime classic; the flamboyant Ferre; irresistibly outraged Galliano; and Simons, with his timeless precision.
But there is a distinct sense of his work with prot over-esteeming anxiety, at the fois about its relevance (all those pale political slogans on T-shirts!) and the more present, as you suggest, the more everything seems promotional - like Bernard Arnault and LVMH, the corporate overlords of Dior, got the museum to associate all of this with masterpieces of art history, only to re-brand and move merchandise. (It must be said, far from being an unknown phenomenon in the art world.) Video
The opening of" Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams ”at the Brooklyn Museum. Credit Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
FRIEDMAN Dior is the solo" exhibition partner "for the show. And I'm glad you brought up Chiur's feminist tendenciesi, expressed in the Brooklyn exhibit both in the T-shirts you mentioned which take their clues (and words) from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie TED Talk and the following book, "We Should All Be Feminists ", and in the slogan banners on display which were created by the artist Judy Chicago for a Chiuri couture and woven fashion show in India by a school of embroiderers. (A sample from this show: "Would God Be a Woman?") Chiuri is, of course, the first woman to lead Dior, which is a big deal, but the show doesn't really explore what it means beyond these slogans. He seems more interested in her many tulle princess dresses - andsometimes his little black pantsuit.
On the other hand, the show at the Met, a much more complicated and layered proposition. Partly because it is a response to the old idea that American designers are not as creative as designers like… Dior! (And all of his heirs.) This is arguing. Did he convince you?
WOOLFE Yes. It's not that "In America" lacks famous brands, or the complications that follow when a museum presents, and therefore implicitly approves, an ongoing business venture. But it also has a sense of lightness that goes with the sane and consistently pursued thesis you are describing. I have felt a deep influence (and thoughtfulness) among American designers who tend to be seen as a bit light-hearted,at least compared to the big Europeans. Image Denim from the "Consciousness " section of the "In America " exhibit. Left: Tremaine Emory for Denim Tears (founded 2019) and Levi Strauss and Company (founded 1853), from 2020. Center: Gabriel Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil, for Threeasfour; before fall 2019. Right: Everard Best for Who Decides War, 2021. Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
Here is Diane von Furstenberg, her wrap dress inspired by Claire McCardell's extremely elegant version of the 1940s. You see how Norman Norell's glittering gold sophistication has passed on to Donna Karan - the poi silhouette.Cut to the shoulders and relaxed below the waist in the 1985 "Seven Easy Pieces " collection that introduced her to the world - and to Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors.
Interestingly, the Met show seems to be related to what the Dior presentation might have been here, if the Conservatives had done something tighter, playing on the implications of the first gallery, which focuses on the house 's expansion in the American market just after WWII, like Christian Dior-New York. The blurring of couture and ready-to-wear, the adaptation of European elegance to expectations across the Atlantic: the experience that Dior lived here is reflected directly in the story told by the Costume Institute.
FRIEDMAN Yet the Met show is very heavy in the 'news, in partbecause it has its own sharp and quite voluminous political program which has to do with the repair of historical racism. Clearly, like many museum costume collections, the Met's holdings are heavily white - as have been most of their past shows. It is a slow road to solving this problem, and it is an effort to speed up the process. Of the hundred or so designers in the current exhibition, around 50% are young designers who are currently working, who are quite obscure, but represent a particularly persified cohort in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality and style. 'gender identity. Image An explosive andfabulous, ”by Christopher John Rogers, welcomes visitors to“ In America ”at the Met. Of the hundred or so designers chosen by Andrew Bolton, around 50% are young designers who "represent a particularly 'persified cohort in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity,' explains Vanessa Friedman. . Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
Some examples are Shayne Oliver from Hood by Air, whose coat-which- porter-a-shirt is in the series; Heron Preston, who has two pieces, one upcycled version of aNew York Department of Sanitation uniform ; the No Sesso gang of Pierre Davis, Autumn Randolph and Arin Hayes, whose piece is a sort of ruffled denim cocktail dress; and Christopher John Rogers, whose explosive and fabulous plaid ball gown is the first thing you see as you descend the stairs to the Anna Wintour Costume Center.
At the same time, only about 21% of what is on display comes from the Met's own collection; the rest was borrowed from the designers. When I asked Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute, if he was going to acquire the parts for the Costume Institute - comme, it 's Rihanna 's Savage x Fenty lacy Nothing , in the show depicting the idea of" recognition ", will he end up at the museum? - he said he would probably acquire 80 percent of the new names, but not necessarily the exhibits. Which made me wonder about the inclusion criteria.
If these clothes do not deserve to be in the museum at them alone, what are they doing there? Since you're a music critic, does this strike a jarring note?
WOOLFE It reminds me a bit of the debates that are going on about the classical music repertoire, basically suggesting that if a piece is not to be played by an orchestra as much as, say, Beethoven's Ninth, why are they playing it? I thinkThere is such a value in presenting variety, and as much as possible: if you believe in the talent and integrity of an artist, just keep getting the job done on stage. I love it when musical institutions make a commitment to a composer, knowing that not all creations will have the same success or be something they will never want to replay. Image In the central atrium of the Brooklyn Museum, "Superstition and the Enchanted Garden" features center stage dresses from Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer of Dior director. Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
The art is slightly different due to the potential distinction between exposer and buy. True, there are a number of exhibits that contain loans which the presenting museum is not particularly interested in acquiring, but which are important to have in view in terms of the themes of the given show - as the needs of a particular orchestral program. In other words, believing that an object can be exhibited in the Met is not necessarily the same as thinking that it should or should be in the Met's collection.
It 's inevitable with any large but quick survey, but were there any designers, trends or aesthetics that you were missing that would have helped the story what the Met is trying to tell?
FRIEDMAN Hoo, boy, that 's is the question. Playing "guess who didn't make it" is going to be a major board game for the fashion people. (Note: Bolton also statedthat he planned to run up to 60% of the show, so the content will change, and Part 2, "In America: A Fashion Anthology," which will open in the spring, the will expand further - for period rooms in the American wing of the museum, and with clothing dating back to the 18th century.) Even with regard to the names found there, sometimes the chosen pieces do not not seem entirely signature. This simple golden dress by Marc Jacobs, for example. Image From left to right, American designers Norman Norell, Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs at "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion ". “You see how the shimmering gold sophistication of Norman Norell passed to Donna Karan and then to Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors,” Zachary Woolfe said. Credit ... Mohamed Sadek for Hfrance.fr
I don't think Bolton's words got attached to every look either - the "lexicon" part: "freedom", "fluidity", "comfort", "calm" - will make a real impression on visitors. But I bet what people will take away is how cohesive some general themes are: elegant black dress, draped right over the body from Charles James to Isabel Toledo and Rick Owens; the structured skirt suit; the cashmere camel; the plush homemade knit; the denim (of course!); and the really terrific opening room with a bunch of patchwork clothes by everyone from Ralph Laure n to SC103 and Puppets and Puppets. may make visitors think twice about American fashion, which was the goal.
That said, I bet peoplewill also be drawn to the Dior fashion show, which demands less from the viewer. It's like a Marvel movie for Wes Anderson at the Met. What do you think?
WOOLFE There is a kind of Role reversal here: the rambling Brooklyn Museum home to the glam giant, while the mighty Met strikes a softer, more modest, and (dare I say) underground pose. (This extends to its apt dtrack: the shimmering "feminine" of genius , a recently rediscovered work from the 1970s by post-minimalist black and gay composer Julius Eastman.)
Does that say something - everything? - about New York and how it changed that Dior took up residence in Prospect Heights, rather than Fifth Avenue.
In America: A Lexicon of Fashion
Part 1 of the The Costume Institute exhibition, "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," September 18-5, 2022, at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710; metmuseum.org. (Part 2, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion opens May 5, 2022.) Timed tickets required for museum admission; visitors aged 12 and over must show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
Until February 20, 2022, Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY, 718-638-5000; brooklynmuseum.org Timed tickets; visitors 12 years of age and over mustwind show proof of vaccination and valid identity document