The exhibition, About Time: Fashion and Duration goes from 1870 to now celebrating The Met’s 150th anniversary. Employing Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée (duration), explores how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future. Virginia Woolf serves as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibition.
La Durée; a term coined in 1913 by French philosopher Henri Bergson, refers to the subjective experience- rather than the objective definition- of time. In order to grasp time, our mind sees states as “side by side” or sequential. True change can only be grasped by intuition. La Durée is a consciousness, which could only be achieved through mobility, dynamic flow and multiplicity.
The projection mapping allows the observer to experience passing by the installation in a different manner, making them aware of La Durée and subjectivity of time.
Back to The Met, the timeline unfolds in two adjacent galleries fabricated as enormous clock faces and organized around the principal of 60 minutes of fashion. Each minute features a pair of garments, with the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work its cyclical character. “To illustrate Bergson’s concept of duration—of the past co-existing with the present—the works in each pair will be connected through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. A black silk satin dress with enormous leg-o’-mutton sleeves from the mid-1890s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004.”
All of the garments are black to emphasize changes in silhouette except for a white Viktor & ROlf s/s 2020 haute couture look made from upcycled swatches in a patchwork design as a symbol for the future of fashion with its emphasis on community, collaboration and sustainability.
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.