The Metropolitan Museum of Art unveils Sleeping Beauties exhibition spanning four centuries of fashion


In this video, Dezeen previews the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s latest blockbuster fashion exhibition Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, following last night’s Met Gala.

The exhibition explores the concept of rebirth and renewal in fashion, showcasing the archival and restoration processes that take place behind the scenes of the Met’s Costume Institute.

The exhibition brings together historical and contemporary pieces from the museum’s archive

The show also uses nature as a visual metaphor to explore ideas around the transience of fashion.

In addition to bringing to life the behind-the-scenes work of fashion conservation, the exhibition also explores the sensory aspects of fashion, with visitors being encouraged to smell aromas of floral motifs, feel the textures of different embroideries, and talk to historical figures through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Floral dress displayed in exhibitionFloral dress displayed in exhibition
The show links exhibits through the motif of nature. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The title of the exhibition is derived from the “sleeping beauties” of the institute’s archives – pieces that are too fragile to be displayed on mannequins. Instead, the exhibition uses AI, animation and X-rays to bring these historical garments to life for visitors.

Approximately 220 garments and accessories spanning four centuries will be on display as part of the show.

Sleeping Beauties will be open to the public from the 10th of May, following the annual Met Gala fundraiser, which took place yesterday and celebrated the exhibition’s debut.

Celebrities interpreted the theme of The Garden of Time on the red carpet, with celebrities like Zendaya, Nicki Minaj and Gigi Hadid sporting floral motifs.

Butterfly inspired pieces in the exhibitionButterfly inspired pieces in the exhibition
The show includes pieces by fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen, Dior and Iris van Herpen. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The exhibition was organised by Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of The Costume Institute, with photographer Nick Knight acting as creative consultant for the exhibition.

Exhibition design is by architecture studio Leong Leong in collaboration with The Met’s Design Department.

Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion takes place from 10 May to 2 September at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.



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