May 2017 New York City
Nothing can make me happier than a whole day wandering at my pace at any major museum. This adventure found me at the MET
I took a free guided gallery talk “Fashion in Art”.
The guide set the tone dressed fashionably including beautiful walking friendly shoes.
The first stop on the tour: A Roman sculpture (copied from a Greek sculpture) of a women with a basket. She is wearing a chilton, which is rectangle of cloth folded, draped over the body. These were probably made from linen. A peplos was made from heavier materials, usually wool. Want to make your own? Check out how at the Kentucky Educational Television site.
Note that historians are convinced that the clothing and the statues that document them were actually brightly colored. Not the white sheet toga party garment that comes to mind.
Ancient Greek and Roman clothing continues to inspire fashion designers. This essay and images of clothing in the MET’s collection (see below link) show how these designs elements have been incorporated throughout western fashion’s 600 year history.
Next stop: Courtiers in a Rose Garden Tapestry
Materials: wool, silk and gilt metal thread Dated to 1440-50 Location south Netherlandish (contemporary Belgian Flanders)
Fashion pointed out in this tapestry:
The rolled headdress of the woman. Fashion dictated showing lots of forehead, sometimes enhanced by removing hair from the forehead and eyebrows. The head was topped with a padded roll, sometimes decorated with a veil or jewels.
Men’s jackets became shorter in this time period and were worn with hose. No knitwear was available so they were cut on the bias to give the ability to stretch and mold to the leg.
Take a close look at the man’s shoes. These long pointy shoes made from leather or fabric are called poulaine or crackowes. Historians believe that this fashion moment was inspired by Richard II’s Polish wife Ann of Bohemia. Extravagant fashion of the court were copied by men and women.
Bronzino’s oil portrait of a young man painted in the 1530’s gives us two fashion items.
First the flat soft brim hat depicted was on of several types of men’s hats worn during this period.
The young man’s jacket features a decorative effect called slashing. This fashion evolved from the practice of the Swiss army in a successful battle in 1477 over Charles the Bold. The battle worn army cut up banners and tents and wove the scraps through the holes in their uniforms. This fabric manipulation was imitated by the wealthy and remained popular through the 1500s.
Read more: http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/European-Culture-15th-Century/Dagging-and-Slashing.html#ixzz4nxVgEms6
Paris, France. This painting depicts a new fashion of women’s dresses created from imported fine white cotton. This fashion inspiration comes from Marie Antoinette and her pastime of dressing as an idealized common milkmaid. The sudden increase in this gauzy cotton brought about a decrease for French silk. During this time up to 20,000 silk looms in France ceased to operate, leading to joblessness and discontent. Did this change in fashion contributed to the French Revolution?
Also in fashion during this time for both men and women – powdered wigs. Powdered wigs become popular when King Louis XIV of France and his cousin Charles II King of England started wearing them. Wigs were popular during this time to hide hair loss due to syphilis. In addition, shaving the head to make the wig fit also made it easier to control head lice. Ewww, I almost wish I hadn’t learned those facts!
And finally on this fashion in art tour, Madame X.
The description of the painting is as follows by the MET.
- Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name.
Virginie was know to use lavender colored face and body powder and to color her hair and eyebrows with henna. She was known not only as a beauty but for her her extra-marital affairs. When the painting was shown society felt that Singer Sargent was flaunting her overt sexuality with the flirtatious pose and the virtually strapless deep v neckline of her dress. Both Virginie and her mother asked for the painting to be removed from public display, and because of the scandal she was forced to retire from society. And when donated, the painting became Madame X to protect her name.
I hoped you enjoyed this virtual accompaniment of my tour of the MET. Next up the Rei Kawakubo exhibit.
I am happy to answer any questions about this New York visit. Photos not from the MET’s collection were taken with my Samsung Galaxy 8. All photographs not credited are the property of ByMarkita and are copyrighted. See copyright page for details.
Accommodations were at Hotel: Hampton Inn Manhattan Madison Square Garden Area