Last week I had my most positive experience so far at the Met. All the familiar anxiety symptoms were present but it was well worth suffering for. In a very under marketed (in my opinion) way there was a superb juxtaposition of 2 exhibitions, the first one being Chaos to Couture, a fashion exhibit which brilliantly showed how the punk street fashion of the '70s ended up influencing the major fashion houses like Givenchy, Prada etc. Beautiful clothing, room after room of it, ...... the things that you and I were wearing back then, or at least observing, and examples of the way it has since been adopted and re-marketed as high fashion. It was FABULOUS, if you like that sort of thing. A magnificent shrine to the evolution of the People's politically and socially stimulated creativity, factoring in our lack of money which made the black plastic garbage bags, the safety pins and torn, embellished t shirts so attractive as a fashion statement, to the glamorous high end fashion industry's cashing in on it over the subsequent decades.
Why don't I have photos? Because sadly the Met won't allow it and I don't have an iphone to be discreetly rebellious with.
Walking 40 blocks up 5th Avenue the next day it occurred to me to test the theory by looking in all the designer windows. Not a punk inspired garment in sight, not one! I got very excited when Bergdorf Goodman had some definitely '70s derivative stuff in it, but sadly it transpired that they were a sponsor of the exhibition so that didn't count. I do buy into the premise though, the exhibits definitely bear that out. I don't believe that New Yorkers have ever worn that stuff to the extent that Londoners did, and still do.
Window gazing in the sunshine
Didn't I used to know you?
Apparently it occurred to the Impressionists to paint people in the garments they were wearing at the time, pictures of stylish men and women reflecting the spirit of the age. This caused a considerable outrage in the Art community. Their pictures were banned from major exhibitions and ridiculed for lack of classicism. Who would think it would be so controversial?
Each room of the exhibition was devoted to a theme.... black dresses, white dresses, daydresses, accessories, menswear, umbrellas, corsets.... There were actual garments, as depicted in the paintings, preserved behind glass. It was by far the most endearing glimpse into the lives of the Impressionists I have ever had. They revealed themselves as not only brave, ground breaking artists, but real men and women leading real lives who posed their long suffering family members again and again in different outfits in order to complete a painting and bucked convention as surely as the punks of the 1970s.
My favorite painting in the exhibition, from the Musee D'Orsay, Paris,.... just stunning, the composition and the beautiful light.... In The Conservatory (Madame Bartholome) painted by her husband, an artist I didn't know at all, circa 1881. She died a few years later but he still had her lovely outfit and here it is today in New York.