12 May 2009

Mummified Muses

I visited The Met this weekend to see The Model as Muse. I was able to sneak a few pictures before getting tsk-tsked by a docent.

Unfortunately, the show was desultory and uninformative. The rooms were extremely dim, making it impossible to view the intricacies of the craftsmanship. The mannequins were, obviously, cold and lifeless, and when paired with the dull lighting, the room gave off the aura of a tomb.
The exhibit winds down a narrow hallway with about three switchbacks, and it ends in a large room with a moderately impressive collection of early Nineties dresses (Anna Sui, Perry Ellis). Making my way down the dark hallways, staring at the frigid mannequins decked out in their finest, I felt like I was tunneling through a burial vault, surrounded by mummies who had taken all their lovely garments with them to the grave in hopes of recovering them in the afterlife. I was half expecting to see a little mummified pet along the way, too.
The walk is formatted like a timeline. It begins with the turn of the century, then almost immediately jumps to Dior's New Look, then it skips to Mod London (loved the YSL beaded silk organdy - part Mod, part Flapper), and then charges full speed ahead into the Era of the Supermodel.

The timeline is as rudimentary as Spark Notes for 20th Century Fashion 101, only it is evidently missing several pages.

I wasn't aware of ambient music in the first part of the exhibit, but once I reached the era of Cindy, Christy, et al., I was suddenly bombarded with Wham's "Freedom" and the ostentatious designs of Gianni Versace. I quickly edged into the next room where jubilant Wham gave way immediately to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the age of Kate Moss and anti-glamour.

The lack of segues was discombobulating and I was anxious to get away and on to something less bizarrely exhibited (like 5000 year-old Cypriot and Persian jewelry).

The Model as Muse, I believe, entirely missed its own point. It reinforced the stereotype of models being lifeless and personality-free clothes hangers, instead of vaunting the ability of rare models who surpass this lowly moniker by performing alchemy and bringing otherwise inanimate clothing to life. These models do exist and just might be worthy of their own show at The Met, but certainly not this one.


Alexis said...

Hmmm. Now I'm wondering whether I should go see it?!

Uptown Girl said...

Well, there were interesting parts, and a few famous dresses it was fun to see in person (YSL's "Mondrian"), but the exhibit itself seemed a little amateurish.