Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion at the Met Museum

The 220 artifacts for Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, the latest exhibit by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan museum of art in New York, opening to the public this Friday, were drawn from its archives with the stated aim of “reviving [their] sensory capacities.” After all, clothes are not just for looking at; they are tactile objects, and they smell. Or so the exhibit tried to remind us, in a rather clumsy way, by jumping through some snazzy scientific hoops that I doubt an average exhibit visitor will care about. In real life the olfactory experience of clothes has to do more with their wearer, that ineffable familiar smell of your lover, for example, an experience diametrically opposed to what was offered, the smell of dead, disembodied clothes. To their credit, Andrew Bolton, the head curator of the Institute, and his staff, are well aware of this, but their attempts at resuscitating the sartorial corpses felt forced.

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty at the Met Museum

“Fashion does not belong in a museum,” Karl Lagerfeld told Andrew Bolton the first time they met. A fearless or an obnoxious statement, considering that Andrew Bolton is the most important fashion museum curator in the world. “Fearless” is what Bolton went for in his opening remarks at the press preview for the “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “Fearsome” was another adjective Mr. Bolton used to describe Lagerfeld’s missives. Some observers may have stronger words for the late designer, who has been callous on record about feminists, people who are overweight, and victims of sexual assault. But the Met Museum is not in the business of criticism; it’s in the business of crowd-pleasing. Lagerfeld provides ample material. Besides Anna Wintour, who was in attendance but for the first time in my memory did not give a speech, he is the only fashion person who can claim to be a cultural mascot that transcends the narrow and insulated world of fashion. Ask an average person what Lagerfeld looks like and they will probably know.

Camp: Notes on Fashion at the Met Museum

The new exhibit by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Camp: Notes on Fashion, is fraught on many levels, starting with a paradoxical nature of its theme. On the surface (no pun intended) Camp is not hard to spot because it’s so image-oriented. In reality the playfulness and irony inherent to Camp makes it elusive and intuitive. Like any sensibility or a matter of taste, Camp requires from its audience organic growth and (self)education. You can’t really stuff all of these things into a museum exhibit that is aimed at the general public – and the job of the Met is to cater to the general public. It’s especially hard to do because Camp is a fairly niche sensibility – there is something subcultural and underground in it. Camp takes pleasure in being stuck into people’s faces without them getting it. Really, it’s kind of the point.

Ryoji Ikeda at the Met Museum

For two days only, Septhember 6th and 7th, the groundbreaking Japanese visual and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda premieres his new work, supercodex [liveset], at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The performance is based on his eponymous 2013 album. The final installment of his album trilogy, supercodex [liveset] explores the relationship between data and sound through rhythmic and raw samplings from his earlier albums and hypnotic, enveloping audiovisual installations. If you missed his epic immersive installation “THE TRANSFINITE” at the Park Avenue Armory, this is a good chance to catch up. Tickets are $45.

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Manus X Machina at The Met

This week the new fashion exhibition “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It aims to challenge the notion, usually found in the popular imagination, that handwork and machine work somehow exist in the state of opposition.