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exhibitions, travel

Death Becomes Her: Mourning Costume Exhibit at the Met

Last fall I took a trip to New York, where I was lucky to see the just-closed Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, called “Death Becomes Her.”

The exhibit was relatively small, but not TOO small, and it was full of a lot of stunning items. Here’s a few thoughts!

There were tons of stunning details, which is even MORE intriguing to me when it’s in all black, because they’re so subtle. Check out these spangled rosettes on a hem!

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Costume Society of America, events, exhibitions

Upcoming SF Bay Area Event: Bulgari Jewelry, Jan. 11

San Francisco Bay Area people, and those into shiny things, should consider joining the Costume Society of America Western Region’s event:

The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond 1950–1990 
de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Saturday January 11, 2014

Sautoir, 1969. Platinum with sapphires and diamonds. Chain, Pendant/Brooch. Formerly in the collection of Elizabeth Taylor. Bulgari Heritage Collection. copywright Barrella Studio Orizzonte.

Here’s the event description:

This exhibition The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990 at the de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will highlight jewelry that defined a pivotal period in Italian design, and includes many pieces from the personal collection of Elizabeth Taylor and other celebrities. Amanda Triossi, a jewelry historian, author, consultant to luxury goods companies, and curator of the Bulgari Heritage Collection, curated the exhibit.

Our private guide will enrich our gallery tour as we hear about the company and the jewelry. Bulgari notably began to create its own trademark in jewelry in the 1960s by embracing boldly-colored combinations of gemstones, use of heavy gold, and forms derived from Greco-Roman classicism, the Italian Renaissance, and the 19th-century Roman school of goldsmiths. The company helped to develop a look that would come to be known as the “Italian school” of jewelry design. Pieces in the exhibition display the jeweler’s eclectic creativity and invention during this period.

Bulgari’s successful cultivation of prominent patrons and movie stars like Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, and perhaps most notably, Elizabeth Taylor, has long been a key aspect of the jeweler’s reputation. To help explore the cultural context in which these objects were made, the exhibition includes innovative uses of sketches, photographs, and other archival materials that help to reveal a fascinating intersection of celebrity, design, and fine craftsmanship.

At 1:00pm in the Koret Auditorium there will be a free public lecture on the Bulgari exhibit.

The Art of Bulgari: La Dolce Vita & Beyond, 1950–1990 continues the Fine Arts Museums’ strong track record of exhibitions highlighting the work of decisive figures and movements in the world of fashion and design including: Cartier in America, Balenciaga and Spain, Yves Saint Laurent and The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, among others.

Adjacent to the Bulgari Exhibit, in the Textile Arts Education Gallery, will be an exhibit entitled, Lace: A Labor of Luxury. CSA Member and associate at the de Young Textile Arts Department, Kristen Stewart, curated this exhibit and will guide us through it. Portraits of fashionable lace-wearing men and women from the Achenbach collection of prints will be exhibited alongside fine examples of lace from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries to support a chronological narrative of successive lace capitals and coups. The Education Gallery also displays textile study pieces for close examination.

If you’re interested in attending, you need to register by January 3rd!

I’ll be there — will you?

16th century, 17th century, books, exhibitions

Tudor/Stuart Fashion Exhibition & Book

From May to October, Buckingham Palace will hold the exhibition:  In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion.

From the site:

This exhibition explores the sumptuous costume of British monarchs and their court during the 16th and 17th centuries through portraits in the Royal Collection. During this period fashion was central to court life and was an important way to display social status. Royalty and the elite were the tastemakers of the day, often directly influencing the styles of fashionable clothing.

In Fine Style follows the changing fashions of the period, demonstrates the spread of styles internationally and shows how clothing could convey important messages. Including works by Hans Holbein the Younger, Nicholas Hilliard, Van Dyck and Peter Lely, the exhibition brings together over 60 paintings, as well as drawings, garments, jewellery, accessories and armour.

A book related to the exhibit is forthcoming, written by the curator of paintings at the Royal Collection:

It looks like I may be in the UK this June, so I’m hoping to catch this exhibit while I’m there!

18th century, exhibitions

18th c. costume exhibit in Brussels

Oh, if only I lived in Europe!  Another fabulous sounding exhibition:  Paniers, Baleines, et Jabots: la Mode au 18e Siecle at the Musee du Costume et de la Dentelle, in Brussels.  That being said… I visited this museum back in 2005 and wasn’t thrilled.  It’s relatively small, and what I mostly remember was cluttered exhibits and dim lighting.  Of course, it’s possible they’ve improved their set-up in the past seven years!  If anyone sees this exhibit, or just has been to the Museum in the past few years, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

Side note:  apart from this museum, Brussels has some AMAZING museums.  The Royal Museums of Fine Art, in particular, have some incredible collections.  If you’re interested, I took a bunch of pictures of costume-related art when I was there in 2005.  It’s mixed into a larger set — if you start with this picture and work left, you can see about 30 pictures that I took there.

18th century, exhibitions

Catherine the Great Exhibition in Scotland

If you can get to Scotland, check out the Catherine the Great exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.  It looks fabulous for those interested in the 18th century in general, plus looking through the image gallery, it includes at least four costumes:  one of Catherine’s uniform dresses, two men’s suits, and a 1780s Russian court ensemble.  For those of us who can’t go in person, the museum has some interesting-sounding podcasts on Catherine herself and as a collector.