Today’s blog post is about the prevalence of fashion exhibitions, and their blockbuster status at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you would like to ignore my rambling text and just gawk at the pretty dresses, be my guest!
I love art and fashion. Art is my profession, fashion is my hobby. I have a degree in Art History and an MA in Art Marketing. I work in Auctions. Art feeds my soul and my bank account — it’s what I do day in and day out. I’ve always been obsessed with fashion, too, but I’ve never considered myself a ~#fashiongirl~ because I feel like I’m not trendy enough (I don’t own a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths, or whatever they are called, for example, and my eyebrows are not on fleek, per se).
CHINA: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
I am just going to say this straight out: I DO believe that fashion can be part of an art museum. I think almost anything is interesting enough to be in a museum, and fashion is definitely high up on my list of interesting things. I love visiting The Costume Institute and the Museum at FIT (this museum is a little bit different, because it is dedicated solely to fashion and it is glorious).
JACQUELINE DE RIBES: THE ART OF STYLE
Fashion and art, however, are not the same. I could probably write a dissertation on this topic (although, the board would probably say that this topic is “too broad” and they would be right). Art is art and fashion is fashion. Both can be experimental, political, environmental, avant-garde, contemporary, reminiscent, “anything goes.” Both can be useful or useless. Both can be expensive, and both can be mass-produced. They share all of these things. Maybe the only difference is that artists seek to produce art, and designers seek to produce clothing (although I’m sure some of them consider their work to be art). I’ve seen art and thought “that’s fashion!” and I’ve seen fashion and thought “that’s art!” Clearly, I am not here to tell you the definitive differences between the two.
FAIRYTALE FASHION AT THE MUSEUM AT FIT
What I do have an opinion on, though, is why The Costume Institute’s exhibitions achieve blockbuster status. Why do people flock to these exhibitions? Two of the ten top most visited exhibitions at the Met were fashion exhibitions (China: Through the Looking Glass and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the latter of which I could not even access due to the line being halfway across the block).
MANUS X MACHINA: FASHION IN AN AGE OF TECHNOLOGY
There are a few reasons, but I think it is mostly because the exhibition practices can be pure, pure spectacle. They are over the top, quick, visually appealing, easily digestible…and they are pure, pure insta-bait. I love it, but I am also critical of it because I do not think that these are best (exhibition) practices most of the time. We are fed so much information in a day, and we are so used to our visuals being, well, over the top, visually appealing, easily digestible…and pure insta-bait. Why should our appreciation of beauty in a museum setting be brought down to that level as well? On the other hand…it gives the curators a chance to be creative, and it draws people into the museum. As you can see above, the Manus x Machina exhibition didn’t have many distractions, so there’s that. Anyone else have thoughts on this? Comment below if you’d like!