China Through the Looking Glass - Johanna Kiely
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China Through the Looking Glass

written by Joanne August 3, 2015

The China Through the Looking Glass exhibition, on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Center in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an astounding combination of fashion, art and film. It has now been extended to be on show until the 7th of September, no doubt due to its huge popularity; I went to see the exhibition twice in two weeks 🙂

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The exhibition seeks to show how Western designers have looked to the East for inspiration, how they “re-imagine” China and how this drives their creation of haute-couture designs.

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the sixteenth century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused at every turn with romance, nostalgia, and make-believe. “

The exhibition tries to demonstrate an “examination of Orientalism as a site of infinite and unbridled creativity”.

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“The exhibition features more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready to wear alongside Chinese art. Filmic representations of China are incorporated throughout to reveal how our visions of China are framed by narratives that draw upon popular culture and also to recognize the importance of cinema as a medium through which to understand the richness of Chinese history.

My favorite piece, the one that took my breath away was this….

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The lotus-shaped bodice is inspired by buddhism and “in an act of Occidentalism, the shape of the skirt which has no archetypes in Eastern dress traditions, is based on the inflated crinoline silhouette that emerged as modish apparel in the West in the 1950’s.

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And how beautiful are these late 19th century style dresses with a Chinoiserie pattern? DSC04109 mm DSC04111 mm

These amazing blue and white dresses were designed by Roberto Cavalli and inspired by willow pattern china. DSC04116 mmDSC04118 mmDSC04124 mm

Source of italicized text: The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

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