Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion at The Met Fifth Avenue, November 18, 2016 – February 5, 2017

The Costume Institute’s exhibition, Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion features significant acquisitions of the past 10 years. The show 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 the course of fashion history and advanced fashion as an art form.

“Our mission is to present fashion as a living art that interprets history, becomes part of the historical process, and inspires subsequent art,” said Mr. Bolton. “Over the seven decades since The Costume Institute became part of The Met in 1946, our collecting strategy has shifted from creating a collection of Western high fashion that is encyclopedic in breadth to one focused on acquiring a body of masterworks.”

“While fashion is often derided for its ephemerality, its quick responsiveness to change ensures that it is an immediate expression of the spirit of its time—a vivid reflection of social, cultural, and political circumstances, and of shifting ideals of beauty,” said Ms. Regan. “The masterworks we’ve chosen to highlight are among many we have collected in the past decade that draw on forms, motifs, and themes of the past, reinterpreting fashion history in ways that resonate in the present.”

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Anna Wintour Costume Center stairwell entryway. Viktor & Rolf (Dutch, founded 1993). Dress, autumn/winter 2015-16, haute couture. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Exhibition entrance. Viktor & Rolf (Dutch, founded 1993). Ball Gown, spring/summer 2010. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. The Eighteenth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. The Nineteenth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. Early Twentieth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. Early Twentieth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. Late Twentieth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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House of Balenciaga (French, founded 1937). Dress, 1967, haute couture. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. Late Twentieth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. Late Twentieth Century. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Left: Alexander McQueen (British, 1969–2010) “Armadillo” Boots, spring/summer 2010. Center: Christian Louboutin (French, born 1963), David Lynch (American, born 1946), “Fetish” Pumps, 2007. Photograph by Corrado Serra

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Installation view. The Harold Koda Gift at the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery. Photograph by Corrado Serra

Exhibition was curated by Assistant Curator Jessica Regan with support from Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton.

Photographs by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.