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Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion

Start Date 28 November 2016
End Date 05 February 2017
Venue Metropolitan Museum of Art
Location New York, USA
Three dresses incorporating panniers to increase their width, are displayed in front of a panel titled 'Masteworks: Unpacking Fashion'
Women's and men's dress are displayed on wooden plinths resembling crates or large-scale packing boxes
Five pairs of shoes, including traditional Japanese 'Geta' and Alexander McQueen 'Armadillo' boots from Plato's Atlantis, are displayed in front of a range of outfits.

The Costume Institute’s fall 2016 exhibition features significant acquisitions of the past 10 years and explores how the department has honed its collecting strategy to amass masterworks of the highest aesthetic and technical quality, including iconic works by designers who have changed fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form. During the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, that collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring masterworks. 

The exhibition, in the Anna Wintour Costume Center, highlights approximately 60 of these masterworks from the early 18th century to the present. The Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery is organized chronologically with ensembles shown on platforms resembling oversized packing crates. Each object—primarily women’s wear, as well as some men’s wear ensembles and a selection of accessories—is accompanied by an in-depth explanation of its significance within the canon of fashion history. 

The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery features 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.