New York Fashion: Virtue and Vice Part 1

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New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is about to open a new exhibition showcasing the legendary style of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes (Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style running from 19 November until 21 February 2016).  In the meantime, it has a tiny but interesting showcase highlighting the influence of renaissance patterns and textiles on clothes right up to the present day.

Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution 1520-1620, at the Metropolitan Museum, New York highlights the “virtue” displayed in the art of embroidery, practised by aristocratic ladies but also applied to some of the most prized and privileged textiles, used by kings and priests.

A20151115_120227longside some miraculously surviving pattern books, brocade bed hangings, gold thread embroidered vestments and lace altar cloths from the sixteenth century, we see their more modern descendents.  The juxtaposition of the twentieth century incarnations of these designs alongside their original inspirations is what is so interesting here.  We see early twentieth century, flapper style, lace tunics, echoing a renaissance altar cloth.

There is a rather gorgeous Russian dress, again early twentieth century, completely covered in embroidery and lace, echoing the embroidered samplers of the sixteenth century (pictured at the top of the page).

There20151115_120257 is even a Ralph Lauren cashmere ski jumper that harks back to sixteenth century heraldic motifs, with unicorns or griffins replaced by the twentieth century Navajo patterns and reindeer.

This is a little gem of an exhibition and an interesting perspective on some of the most common motifs of modern fashion.  It is well worth seeking it out, right at the back of the Met’s ground floor in its peaceful, sky-lighted room before it closes on 10 January 2016.

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