Skip to content

Women Dressing Women

Start Date 07 December 2023
End Date 03 March 2024
Venue Metropolitan Museum of Art
Location New York, U.S.A
Curator Karen Van Godtsenhoven and Mellissa Huber

Women Dressing Women will explore the work of both widely celebrated and lesser-known women designers and women-led fashion houses from the 20th century to the present, surfacing a series of intergenerational conversations that underscore ideas related to women’s social progress as charted through fashion. The exhibition will uncover new information about understudied designers and houses that were influential during their activity, expanding upon the canon of Western fashion by highlighting rare works from The Costume Institute’s collection, some of which will be on view at The Met for the first time.

The exhibition will open by considering the condition of anonymity beginning with the role of the anonymous dressmaker as a type of collective ancestor leading to the present-day eponymous designer.

The Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery will introduce a pantheon of women designers who worked in Paris, the historical center of the stratified haute couture industry, displaying an area of strength in The Costume Institute’s early 20th-century collection. Through highlighting notions of visibility, the rise of the couturier, and the collective nature of design, this section will examine the ways in which fashion served as a vehicle to provide early forms of financial, social, and creative autonomy for women.

The Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery will expand the lineage of female designers across time and geography, using the premise of agency to reveal how generational shifts led to new opportunities for women. Objects and makers represented in this section will demonstrate different entry points to the fashion industry through adjacent areas of the arts and the cultivation of autonomous environments with the rise of independent shops and boutique culture. Garments by contemporary designers working from the 1960s to the present will emphasize the ways in which fashion has served as a site of political and bodily expression, engaging with notions of identity and choice.

The exhibition will close by highlighting stories of absence or omission through the presentation of objects by designers whose work has only recently begun to receive widespread credit and recognition, such as Ann Lowe, who designed Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress for her marriage to then-Senator John F. Kennedy in 1953, and Adèle Henriette Nigrin Fortuny, who was instrumental in the design of the famed “Delphos” gown, first introduced in 1909.

Iconic pieces by well-known designers will be on display, including garments by Sarah Burton, Gabrielle Chanel, Ann Demeulemeester, Elizabeth Hawes, and Jeanne Lanvin. Pieces representing designers who have maintained a significant presence in The Costume Institute’s collection and exhibition history—such as Germaine Émilie Krebs, who created under the names Alix and Mme. Grès; Miuccia Prada; and Elsa Schiaparelli—will also be featured.

Examples by contemporary designers, including Hillary Taymour for Collina Strada, Anifa Mveumba for Hanifa, Iris Van Herpen, Norma Kamali, Ester Manas, Jamie Okuma, Simone Rocha, Marine Serre, Yeohlee Teng, and Isabel Toledo, among others, will illustrate the creative and conceptual possibilities of contemporary design, highlighting inclusive definitions of womanhood, collaborative practices, a sustainable mindset, and the plurality that has come to define the spirit of fashion today.

Designers whose work will be on view are as follows: Adèle Henriette Elisabeth Nigrin Fortuny, Mariano Fortuny (Fortuny); Ana de Pombo (House of Paquin); Ann Demeulemeester; Ann Lowe; Anifa Mvuemba (Hanifa); Augusta Bernard (Augustabernard); Autumn Randolph, Pia Davis (No Sesso); Barbara Hulanicki (BIBA); Betsey Johnson; Bonnie Cashin; Claire McCardell; Charlotte Larrazet (Premet); Diane von Furstenberg; Donna Karan; Elizabeth Hawes; Elsa Schiaparelli; Ester Manas, Balthazar Delepierre (Ester Manas); Gabrielle Chanel (Chanel); Gabriela Hearst x Gees Bend Quilters (Chloé); Georgina Godley; Germaine Émilie Krebs (Alix, Madame Grès); Grace Wales Bonner, Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior); Hanae Mori; Hillary Taymour (Collina Strada); Iris van Herpen; Isabel Toledo; Jamie Okuma; Jean Muir; Jeanne d’Etreillis, Sylvie Boué de Montegut (Boué Soeurs); Jeanne Lanvin (Lanvin); Jeanne Victorine Margaine-Lacroix (Margaine-Lacroix); Jasmine Søe (Customiety); Jessie Franklin Turner; Jil Sander; Kate Mulleavy, Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte); Katharine Hamnett; Lucy Christiana Duff-Gordon (Lucile); Madame Havet (Agnès-Drecoll); Madeleine Lepeyre, Madame Madeleine (Madeleine & Madeleine); Madeleine Maltezos, Suzie Carpentier (Mad Carpentier); Madeleine Vionnet (Vionnet); Maggy Besançon de Wagner (Maggy Rouff); Marcelle Chaumont; Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior); Marie Angenard (Jeanne Hallée); Marie Callot Gerber (Callot Soeurs); Marie Cuttoli (Myrbor); Marie-Louise Boulanger (Louiseboulanger); Marie-Louise Bruyère (Bruyère); Maria Monaci Gallenga (Gallenga); Marine Serre; Mariska Karasz; Melitta Baumeister; Miuccia Prada (Prada); Nina Ricci (Ricci); Norma Kamali; Pauline (Potter) de Rothschild (Hattie Carnegie); Pauline Trigère; Phoebe Philo (Celine); Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons); Sarah Burton (Alexander McQueen); Sarah Lipska; Simone Rocha; Sonia Levienne Colefax (Chez Sonia); Sonia Rykiel; Tina Leser; Tory Burch; Valentina; Vera Maxwell; Vivienne Tam; Vivienne Westwood; Yeohlee Teng; Zandra Rhodes.