For its first fall costume exhibition in seven years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center will launch Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire on October 21st, 2014. With pieces worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra, this dramatic exhibition—with predominantly black silhouettes against a bright white background—is the perfect follow up and contrast to the Museum’s latest success, Charles James: Beyond Fashion.
The collection will show thirty ensembles chronologically from 1815-1915. Through this century, mortality rates were high, and a woman might spend much of her life in “widow’s weeds”, or mourning clothes, to honor the death of her loved one. Although not every outfit is black, the sullen, dark collection “dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes,” said Harold Koda (Curator of the Met’s Costume Institute) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Press Room. “As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order,” he added.
In the exhibition, simple dresses will be shown next to flamboyantly garnished dresses, to show the evolution of societal standards and the incorporation of high fashion’s development in mourning attire. The silhouettes will be shown with historic photographs and daguerreotypes to enhance the understanding of the look. With not much modern coverage, and with a death-fascinated generation strongly present, it is evident that the fall comeback exhibit will draw a large crowd. Plus, what better way to attract New Yorkers than with a (mostly) black clothing exhibit?

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