China:Through the Looking Glass May 7 – August 16

Dear Shaded Viewers,

China: Through the Looking Glass is an exhibition that explores how China has inspired fashion for centuries, it is a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, high fashion will be juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains and other art as well as films that will reveal reflections of Chinese imagery. 

“From the earliest period of European contact with China in the 16th 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 make­believe,” said Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute. “Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a fantastic pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.”

The Anna Wintour Costume Center’s Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery will present a series of “mirrored reflections” through time and space, focusing on Imperial China; the Republic of China, especially Shanghai in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s; and the People’s Republic of China. These reflections, as well as others in the exhibition, will be illustrated with scenes from films by such groundbreaking Chinese directors as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, and Wong Kar Wai. Distinct vignettes will be devoted to “women of style,” including Oei Huilan (the former Madame Wellington Koo), Soong May­Ling (Madame Chiang Kai­shek), and Empress Dowager Cixi.

The exhibition, a collaboration between The Costume Institute and the Department of Asian Art, coincides with the Museum’s year­long centennial celebration of the Asian Art Department, which was created as a separate curatorial department in 1915. China: Through the Looking Glass is organized by Andrew Bolton, Curator, with the support of Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, both of The Costume Institute. Additional support is provided by Maxwell Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman; Denise Patry Leidy, Curator; and Zhixin Jason Sun, Curator, all of the Department of Asian Art.

 Wong Kar Wai will be the exhibition’s artistic director working with his longtime collaborator William Chang, who will supervise styling. Nathan Crowley will serve as production designer for the exhibitio

Credits for the images :

l. Evening coat, ca. 1925

Silk, fur, metal
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Robert S. Kilborne, 1958 (2009.300.259)
Photography © Platon

2. Festival robe (detail), 19th century

Qing dynasty, Daoguang (1821–50)–Xianfeng (1851–61) period
Silk, metallic thread
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Anonymous Gift, 1944 (44.122.2)
Photography © Platon

3. Film still from Daughter of the Dragon, 1931

Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, PARAMOUNT/THE KOBAL COLLECTION

4. 19th-century rubbing from a 10th-century stele describing a sudden illness, a stomach ache

Rubel Collection C-74
Photograph courtesy of Special Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University

5. Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957) for House of Dior (French, founded 1947)

"Quiproquo" cocktail dress, 1951
Silk, leather
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953 (C.I.53.40.38a–d)
Photography © Platon

6. Mrs. Wellington Koo, 1943

Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photograph by Horst, Horst / Vogue; © Cond

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.