MET exhibition

Met Exhibition

Jennifer Levy

This fall, fashion's past and present intertwine in an exclusive show at the iconic New York museum.

Haute couture’s past and present will intertwine this fall at the Anna Wintour Costume Center in New York City. Significant fashion acquisitions and accouterments will be on display at The Costume Institute’s Fall 2016 exhibition, Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion.


The November exhibit includes iconic works by designers who have changed the course of fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form. Some newly acquired objects will be paired with pieces already in the collection to illustrate the enduring influence of certain master couturiers and iconic historical figures. Visitors will see a Halston evening gown from the 1980s, new to the collection, juxtaposed with a Vionnet gown from the 1930s. A recently acquired John Galliano for Maison Margiela dress from 2015 will be paired with a Cristobal Balenciaga gown from 1964.

Viktor & Rolf, SPRING 2010

Volante, circa 1730

“Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art,” said Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton. “Over the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, our collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring a body of masterworks.”

Raf Simons for House of Dior,Autumn 2014

Jean-Philippe Worth,1898

The exhibition will highlight approximately 60 of these masterworks from the early 18th century to the present, which The Costume Institute has acquired since its last acquisitions show, blog.mode: Addressing Fashion, in 2007. The masterworks that were chosen are among many that the Institute has collected in the past decade, which according to Assistant Curator Jessica Regan “draw on forms, motifs, and themes of the past, reinterpreting fashion history in ways that resonate in the present.”

The main Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery at the Institute will be organized chronologically with ensembles shown in packing crates and on palettes, as though they have just arrived at The Met. Each object—primarily women’s wear, as well as some men’s wear ensembles and a selection of accessories—will be accompanied by an in-depth explanation of its significance within the tenets of fashion history.

The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery will feature some of the ensembles donated by designers in honor of Harold Koda upon his retirement as Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute in January 2016.

John Galianno for Maison Margiela, Spring 2015

Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Spring 2011

The Costume Institute’s collection of more than thirty-five thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes, and accessories for men, women, and children, from the 15th century to the present.

The Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center will host the exhibit beginning November 8, 2016–February 5, 2017.

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