The Costume Institute has unveiled its first fall exhibition in seven years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire explores Victorian and Edwardian mourning dress during the 19th and early 20th centuries, shedding light to how a mourner’s wardrobe was defined and how it evolved across various stages of grief.
The showcase is organised chronologically and features pieces pulled primarily from The Costume Institute’s own collection. The progression of bereavement is illustrated through appropriated fabrics such as crepe and corded silks, later incorporating colours like grey and mauve into attire to reflect “half-mourning,” the period toward the end the grieving. Accessories displayed range from hats and parasols to jewellery and lockets featuring pictures (and even hair) of the deceased. Gabriel Fauré’s track, Requiem, sets the mood of the space, creating an ambiance less somber and more spiritual. –Sarah Ryan Hecht
“The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes,” said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute.
“The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances. As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order.”
Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue / 1 212 535 7710
October 21 – February 1, 2015