About Time: Fashion and Duration at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Dinner dress, Mrs. Arnold (American), ca. 1895; Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Sally Ingalls / Ensemble, Comme des Garçons (Japanese, founded 1969), fall/winter 2004–5; Gift of Comme des Garçons, 2020 Images courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

About Time: Fashion and Duration

The Costume Institute’s exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration traces 150 years of fashion, from 1870 to the present, along a disrupted timeline, in honor of the Museum’s 150th anniversary. Employing philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée—the continuity of time—the exhibition explores how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate the past, present, and future. The concept is also examined through the writings of Virginia Woolf, who serves as the exhibition’s “ghost narrator.”

Presented in The Met Fifth Avenue’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, the exhibition features a timeline of 125 fashions dating from 1870—the year of The Met’s founding and the start of a decade that witnessed major developments in the global standardization of time—to the present. The majority of objects on view are drawn from The Costume Institute’s collection, including major gifts from designers as part of The Met’s 2020 Collections Initiative.

All of the garments are black to emphasize changes in silhouette, except at the conclusion of the show, where a white dress from Viktor & Rolf’s spring/summer 2020 haute couture collection, made from upcycled swatches in a patchwork design, serves as a symbol for the future of fashion with its emphasis on community, collaboration, and sustainability.

About Time: Fashion and Duration, Gallery View

Gallery View, Clock One Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, said: “Fashion is indelibly connected to time. It not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times, serving as an especially sensitive and accurate timepiece. Through a series of chronologies, the exhibition uses the concept of duration to analyze the temporal twists and turns of fashion history.”

Designers whose work is on view in the exhibition include Virgil Abloh (for Off-White), Azzedine Alaïa, Jonathan Anderson (for JW Anderson and Loewe), Cristóbal Balenciaga, Boué Soeurs, Thom Browne, Stephen Burrows, Sarah Burton (for Alexander McQueen), Gabrielle Chanel, Christian Dior, House of Drecoll, Tom Ford (for Gucci), Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, John Galliano (for Maison Margiela and John Galliano), Jean Paul Gaultier, Rudi Gernreich, Nicolas Ghesquière (for Louis Vuitton), Hubert de Givenchy, Georgina Godley, Madame Grès, Jacques Griffe, Halston, Johnson Hartig (for Libertine), Iris van Herpen, Marc Jacobs (for Perry Ellis, Marc Jacobs, and Louis Vuitton), Charles James, Victor Joris, Norma Kamali, Donna Karan, Rei Kawakubo (for Comme des Garçons), Patrick Kelly, Lamine Kouyaté (for Xuly.Bët), Christian Lacroix, Helmut Lang, Karl Lagerfeld (for Chanel), Jeanne Lanvin, Martin Margiela, Claire McCardell, Malcolm McLaren, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Kei Ninomiya (for Noir Kei Ninomiya), Norman Norell, Shayne Oliver (for Hood by Air), Rick Owens, Jean Patou, Elsa Peretti, Emile Pingat, Miuccia Prada, Paco Rabanne, Zandra Rhodes, Olivier Rousteing (for Balmain), Yves Saint Laurent (for Dior and Yves Saint Laurent), Elsa Schiaparelli, Raf Simons (for Dior and Jil Sander), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Jun Takahashi (for Undercover), Gianni Versace, Madeleine Vionnet, Junya Watanabe, Weeks, Vivienne Westwood, and Yohji Yamamoto.


Accompanied by a catalogue.

About Time: Fashion and Duration, Gallery View

Gallery View, Clock Two Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 28, 2020 - February 7, 2021

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