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How to visit all three NYC Met Museums within 2-3 Days

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Last week I did something I do quite often, visit the Met Museum every year to view their largest Costume Institute exhibition. Before they open this exhibition the museum host the MET Gala. Yes that Gala in which you ask yourself why are these celebrities dressing up or dressing weirdly? I’ll break it down a bit for people who are not in the fashion, media, art..etc world. Every year the Metropolitan Museum of Art features a few exhibitions, and one very large one. Anna Wintour from Vogue, board members and the Met Museum decide on a theme or designer to focus on or honor with the exhibition. In the past they have focused on Asia and Asian inspired fashion with China Through the Looking Glass or one of their most visited exhibitions Savage Beauty on Alexander McQueen after his death.  To attend this event, celebrities have to be invited by Anna Wintour and the team, of which they decide who sits where and they also depict the dress code, usually in connection to the theme of the exhibition. This years exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, inspired many celebrities to dress in Pope like attire. Some celebrities embrace the theme while others don’t, I personally love those that do. In order to attend this gala, celebrities pay around $30,000 per ticket which benefits the Costume Institute. This year the exhibition spans two locations of the Met Museum. The largest part of the  exhibition taking place at The Met on 5th ave and the second at The Met Cloisters in upper Manhattan. I was determined to visit them both and because I thought The Met Bruer had part of the exhibition I ended up visiting all three within two days. How can you do this? I’ll give you my tips below.

 

There are a few ways you can accomplish this and I am going to suggest one way for New Yorkers and one way for tourists. I think of it this way because normally New Yorkers will know which subways to take and how to find these subways quickly. Where as if you are a visitor you will probably need some time to figure out which subway to take, where you have to catch it, where you have to get off and where to go once off etc. If you are savy with directions or have a great app to help you it can speed up the process. I just suggest taking this into consideration and the fact that NYC blocks are a mile long and you’ll be looking up at buildings and not walking as fast. Now if you feel you want to do this in a different manner, go right ahead but after some thought and doing this myself these are my suggestions. With one Met Museum ticket you can visit all three locations within three consecutive days, thanks to its ticket policy. One ticket gets you into all three! So this means you only have to pay to get into one museum no matter which, and transportation. Take advantage of this and make sure to KEEP THE RECEIPT as each museum will ask for the receipt when you mention this policy!

 

Tourist: Your first stop should be the Met Breuer, the smallest of the three. This museum holds modern art including Picasso’s. The museum is small with only a few floors, with one currently closed for construction. It also has many large sculptures as opposed to alot of paintings, which in my opinion made the process of reading about and viewing the piece faster. It only took me an hour an a half to complete the museum, but you might be going a bit slower than I did so I’d say give yourself 2-3 hours here. It probably won’t take you longer than that because like I said, its small. If your hungry check out the café which has a patio area on the basement level of the museum.

 

Your next stop should be the Met on Fifth. The Met on Fifth is only seven blocks away from the Met Breuer, save yourself money and walk there! If its good whether, you won’t regret it, as the architecture of the upper east side is beautiful and the townhouse lined streets are peaceful. I love walking to the Met because of this simple fact, its like getting a quick peaceful break before you cross into the bustle of Museum Mile on fifth. The Met on Fifth is the largest of the museums and it is going to take you the rest of the day to get through it. Some of my favorite parts of the museum include the Costume Institute if there’s a fashion exhibition, the Egyptian Art wing, the Charles Engelhard Court in the American wing, the Medieval Art wing and the rooftop. The rooftop is open May-October and sometimes holds exhibitions while the views of the city are incredible.

 

By the time you are done with the Met on Fifth you’ll probably be too tired or it will be too late to attempt to go uptown as the MET closes at 5:30pm (Sun-Thurs) and the Met Cloisters at 5:15pm. You might feel like you didn’t see everything at the Met on Fifth and want to come back the second day. You are going to want to leave the Met Cloisters for the third day, as it takes a while to get up there and because it deserves a slow stroll through the grounds. The Met Cloisters is located inside Fort Tyron park in upper Manhattan, literally almost at the very end of Manhattan. From the Met on Fifth to the Cloisters the subway ride will take around an hour, and from the subway to the museum you are walking uphill. Give yourself time to walk slowly and take in the views of the flowers and nature of the park. I’m assuming you can take a taxi up but why would you, when you’ll miss the views and the nature. NOTE: Once you get off the train follow the signs that say Cloisters to find the elevator inside the subway station that will take you up to the entry of the park. If you attempt to walk from the subway, it will take long and it might be confusing. The park also has many hills and steps and you will be EXHAUSTED by the time you get there. I’ve walked there both ways and highly suggest finding that elevator!  Take your time in this museum, its small but gorgeous as it is filled with medieval art and the gardens and the architecture of the building are impeccably detailed.

 

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Local: YOU GOT THIS! I did it!

Now you may like the suggestions I made for tourists, and by all means follow them. But as a person who enters NYC via midtown I prefer going all the way up to the Met Cloisters first and coming back down to the Met Breuer in one day. Now the Met Cloisters connects via the A subway which runs on the west side of Manhattan, but the Met Breuer is on the east side. You would need to transfer to the C or B subway at some point or get off near Central Park and cross. It doesn’t take long if you walk NYC pace! I still enjoyed the park and I made it to the Met Breuer with hours to spare. From the east side of the park to the Met Breuer its only one block away. I did it this way and felt I saw everything both museums had to offer and got to stop and admire sections of the park I hadn’t before. I visited the Met on Fifth on a separate day, I suggest doing the same due to how big it is. Since I know my way around the museum on fifth, I knew exactly what I wanted to see. What I didn’t know and what you might not have realized is the ticket price for local NEW YORKERS is pay as you wish. College students of the NY, NJ and CT area can also pay as they wish. For non-New Yorkers it cost $25 to enter the museum, but like I mentioned above keep that ticket and receipt because it gets you into all three museums. This policy is fairly new, and a lot of people think it’s still pay as you wish for everyone, it is NOT. But it is well worth it if you visit all the museums!

 

Don’t miss the Picasso’s and Degas’s at the Met Breuer! They have the famous The Little Fourteen Year Old Dancer sculpture by Degas along with other modern art. The museum is the smallest of the three, with many sculptures and a floor currently under construction. You might be finished with more than enough time to visit the Met on Fifth! Take your time at the Cloisters, its like stepping out of New York and into a European medieval castle. The museum itself is small, but you are going to want to take in the details and beauty of the architecture, art and grounds. While Fort Tyron park is beautiful on its own. When at the Met on Fifth make sure to visit the Egyptian and Medieval sections and the rooftop, you wont’ regret that rooftop!

 

 

 

 

In whatever manner you visit the MET Museums I highly suggest you take advantage of the ticket policy. Locals who are just looking for something to do on a weekend or looking for ways to educate their kids are going to enjoy these museums. While tourists visiting for the first time are not going to want to miss the MET, it is a MUST. I hope this post encourages you to visit at least the MET on FIFTH, as I’ve been visiting this museum since I was a little girl and it is still one of my favorite places on earth.

 

Trains: A,B,C

Time: 2-3 Days

Cost: $25 per ticket + subway ride $2.75 per ride + if you are coming from outside NYC.

 

I will have a separate post on the Heavenly Bodies : Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Have you ever visited all three museums as a local or tourists? Let me know in the comments and on social media!- T.S.

 

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The Met’s: Rei Kawakubo of Commes des Garcons, Art of the In-Between

The Met Museum

Currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the “Art of the In-Between”. The exhibition is a look into creator of Commes des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo’s inspirations and work. Rei founded Commes des Garcons (French for “like some boys”) in 1969. Rei’s expression of fashion is one of disruption. Her designs are what we in the industry call Avant Garde. They are unconventional and challenges what society accepts as fashion.

1.Absence/Presence

Much of her work revolves around two notions, koan mu (emptiness) and ma (space). The exhibition explores nine translations of in-betweenness through Rei’s collections and explores the  emptiness in conventional clothing. The architectural displays and circular path that visitors walk through to view the exhibition are inspired “Mu” and “Ma” the Zen Buddhism symbolizim for emptiness and space. Ma also translates to void and volume. Ma is both something with and without shape, much like Rei’s voluminous designs.

The Met Museum The Met Museum

 

2.Design/ Not Design

Rei doesn’t have a formal design education, her self education allowed her to explore how to design unconventionally. Many times her inspiration comes from a word or abstract image. Many of her collections are inspired by fusion, imbalance, the unfinished, elimination and design without design. These templates for her work are also rooted in the Zen Buddhist principle wabi-sabi.

The Met Fashion musuemThe Met Museum

3.Fashion/ Antifashion

During the late 1970’s and early 80’s Rei moved away from her traditionally Japanese inspired collections. Her need to design something with strength led her to become a modern archetypal designer. Her goal was one of originality or ” newness” and has been what defines all of her collections. Fashion/ Antifashion showcases Rei’s early 80s collections. The color story of predominately  black expresses the thought of mu (emptiness) while the shapeless and oversized garments express ma (space).

 

4.Model/Multiple

Rei has also explored the contrast of original work and the replicas that are made. In Model/ Multiple Rei’s collection Abstract Excellence the pieces take on these differences. The repetition of clothes not only represents replicas but uniformity. Her pieces in this collection have very little differences.This showcases the rift between original art and designs and knockoffs. Many of these techniques have been used in the fashion industry and are being used today in fast fashion.

Met Museum fashion

5.High/Low

The collection “Motorbike Ballerina” expresses the ties between elitist and pop culture.  High society forms of dressing like a tutu and a low society form like a biker jacket are combined. Street style takes on high end fashion and the collection explores how society see’s both.

The MET MueseumFashion at the Met Museum

 

In the collection “Bad Taste” Rei explores what bad taste is. Style associated with punk which are made with cheaper fabrics like polyester are combined with high end tulle for tutus. Her goal was to shine a light on what upper society sees as good taste. While combining those exact forms of bad taste with what society might view as good taste.

 

The Met Museum

6.Then/Now

In the collections Modern Sweetness, Sweeter Than Sweet, Body Meets Dress-Dress Meets Body, Inside Decoration and White Drama Rei travels through both modern and historical fashion. As a designer her work has been constantly influenced by fashion history. It can be seen in these collections that consists of silhouettes that are from the 19th century.

The Met Museum The Met Museum

 

In her collections Broken Bride, White Drama and Ceremony Rei explores the movement of time through life experiences. Birth, marriage and death are expressed through what Rei and much of society think about these time periods. The traditions we believe in during these periods of living are expressed both in ways we recognize and don’t.

7.Self/Other

Self/ Other explores what fashion looks like when boundaries are crossed. This part of the exhibition showcases how Rei’s work blurs the lines between East/ West, Male/ Female and Child/ Adult. East and West displays what eastern and western cultures clash in fashion. Male/ Female fuses what we typically recocnize as male attire with womenswear. While Child/ Adult focuses on what age appropriate dressing while using the Japanese cultural aspects of Kawaii (cuteness). A form of dressing made popular by the Japanese youth who use playful aspects in their dressing.

The Met Museum The Met Museum

8.Object/Subject

Object/ Subject focuses on the form of our bodies and drasticly changing the way it looks and how we think about it. In this part of the exhibition the collection Body Meets Dress- Dress- Meets Body challenges that notion. The looks include extreme padding challenging what society thinks is a beautiful body. These deformed looks contrast with the traditional cuts of fabric and prints of gingham.  The line between  dress or the object and subject the body are blurred.

Met Museum

9.Clothes/ Not Clothes

Once again Rei felt the need for reinvention and in 2014 left behind the the notion of newness in presute of making “objects for bodies’.  In the ninth installation the collection is broken down in to nine categories. In Clothes/ Not Clothes Rei introduced forms that have never been introduced to fashion. The collection is a constant rif on what can be worn and what is simply expressional pieces. They have similarities but also have considerable differences.

The Met Museum

9.1  Form/Function

Form/ Function features the collection Not Making Clothing. Continuing her search of objects for the body she created the piece as if she were not a designer. The pieces are structured, three dimensional and don’t form to the body naturally. The cuts and forms are similar to a dolls whose clothing is too big. The pieces seem cut and pasted together and don’t look as if they should go together. (Picture above)

 

9.2  Abstraction/ Representation

The collection “invisible clothes” in 9.2 challenges the thought of the body being dominate over clothing. Recognizable forms of clothes like an arm are obscured through the voluminus shapes. In doing so body and the form of the dress become one. There is not a clarity of what is body and what is dress. The goal is to see clothes not as clothes but as a form of the body.

The Met MuseumThye Met Museum

 

 

9.3 Beautiful/Grostesque

In Beautiful/ Grotesque Rei’s collections ” Holes” and ” Monster”showcase how Rei’s 1980’s collections were criticized by Western society as grotesque. Although to Rei they were simply different forms of beauty. The collection “Monster” delves into humanity, fear and going beyond what we see as common sense. Rei once again goes against ordinary fashion by creating pieces that are big and can be perceived as both beautiful and ugly. The knots and twist of the garments are meant to expand what people see as beauty.

The Met Museum

 

 

9.4 War/Peace

War/ Peace showcases the collections ” Flowering Clothes” and “Blood and Roses”. These collections are Rei’s response to the unjust events in society. Her reactions to what is happening around us is never literal, but symbolic. Her reactions and knowledge of history inspired her to create these collections. Throughout history the symbol of the rose has been used to represent both good and bad. ” Flowering Clothes” focuses on the positive connotations associated with roses. The pieces are inspired by the strength, happiness and positivity of a rose. “Blood and Roses” focuses on the dark significance a rose can have. It’s inspired by the historical use of a rose in war, political and religious clashes. In “Blood and Roses” Rei used both expressional and literal expressions of the topic with the color of bold red.

The Met Museum

9.5 Life/Loss

When one looks at Rei’s clothes they must understand that she is not an intellectual designer but an emotional one. Her own feelings inspire the collections, even those of fear and doubt. Her collections are a look into her intense emotions and spirituality. Life/Loss expands on the collection in Then/ Now with theme of transition. In Life/ Loss the concepts of the memory of a subject and memorialization of something are explored.

The Met Museum

Life/ Loss presents the collection ” Ceremony of Separation” which brings to the forefront the feelings of pain of losing someone and the beautiful ceremonies we put on to say good bye. The dresses in this collection are translations of traditional mourning dresses. The clothes are sad but extravagant with delicate lace representing how fragile life is. This collection is similar to her earlier collection “Square” where the clothes are made of one square of fabric and express the ritual of pilgrimage. The “Square” and “Ceremony of Separation” collections both explore the traditional outlets of expression during these points in life.

9.6 Fact/Fiction

Fact/ Fiction demonstrates Rei’s expressions through storytelling. The collections ” Blue Witch”, “Lilith”, “Dark Romance”and “Witch”. The collections are filled with strong silhouettes and mix menswear with womenswear.  Although the traditional forms in menswear are distorted. In all three collections menswear  becomes a feminine piece like a skirt.  The collections are pieces of dismantled and distorted, mashed together women and men’s wear. They are also expressions of  the fictional topics, witches and  storybooks.

The Met Museum

9.7 Order/Chaos

When Rei formed “Comme des Garcons” her goals were “newness” and independence. She pursued independence of conventional subjects and expression. This search lead her to appreciate street style and the punk culture. Both going against the grain of tradition and what society thinks is fashion. In “Order/ Chaos” combines history and the theme of transition. The collection “18th- Century Punk” uses the traditional silhouettes of the 1700’s combined with 1970’s punk aesthetics. The pieced together collection recalls the collection “Adult Delinquent” which was also inspired by the punk movement.

The Met Museum

 

9.8  Bound/ Unbound

In Bound/ Unbound the collection “The Future of the Silhouette” made not of clothes necessarily  but of objects for the body is on display. Here fabric is replaced by synthetic wadding  that is constructed around the body. They take inspiration from the collection used in Then/ Now without the historical references. The pieces are distorted hourglass forms that become parts of the body like that of the Body Meets Dress- Dress Meets Body collection. The pieces are binding to the body without arm holes, pressing against the notion of what accepted beauty is. The goal is not to give a body purpose, place or period in which to be but to simply exist between these aspects of life.

The Met Museum

 

Rei’s work will not instantly make you think of fashion, but of expressionism. Once you are able to understand what she is expressing , you will be able to understand and see the fashion in it. Much of it is not meant to be worn but translate and affect how society thinks and feels about what’s acceptable in fashion and beauty. It is a story of the “art of the in-between.”

The exhibition Rei Kawakubo: Commes des Garcons/ Art of the In- Between is on display at the Met until September 4th. I enjoyed learning more about this fascinating designer and hope you do to. Her take on fashion and its emotional connections are what I relate to most. Let me know if you visit the exhibition and what your thoughts are. Pay attention to my Instagram for more pictures throughout the week.

T.S.

fashion History shoes The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met’s Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion

Currently at the Met’s Costume Institute is Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion. Visitors are given a peek into the Costume Institutes archives from the eighteenth century to twenty first. Not only has the museum acquired one of the largest collections in the world but one that includes Masterworks. Masterworks are labeled as such due to the garment ‘s technical qualities that have pushed the process of garment making forward. The qualities that deemed each piece a masterwork changed as eras progressed. Curators chose pieces that complemented each other no matter the time period. Essentially showing how fashion reacts to the past, present and future.

18th Century Masterworks: Quality of Materials

During the 1800’s the craftsmanships of embroidery, textiles, weaves and tailoring are what constitute masterwork. As the silhouettes of garments did not change much during this period it was the use of intricate techniques that made them masterworks. The Robe Volant, or one piece gown with a tight bodice, flowing front and back pleats was the typical style worn by women and girls. During this time the reference to lingerie  through  fuller proportions was seen as indecent and as a result so was the wearer. The shape was also frowned upon as people believed pregnancies due to affairs could be hidden. The simple silhouettes allowed the detailed damask or brocade prints to be the showcase of the garment. The making of a garment was through the process of draping fabric on a bodice and folding pleats rather than cutting and sewing.

Fashion

Robe Volant 1730 French and Robe A La Francaise 1760

 

Men’s attire for this period was inspired by new trade relations between Britain and Asia. An influx of new materials and styles such as silk and kimonos originated from China, India, Persia and Turkey changed the fashion of Europe. All of these cultures inspired the Banyan a casual house gown worn by British men. Depending on details like fit, cut or quilting they would be adorned at home or out at casual events. This coat’s European silhouette combined with Asian materials and styles was seen as elegant and fashionable. Men who wore a Banyan were considered well traveled with great fashion sense. Again simple lines and tailoring were used allowing detailed embroidery, bold patterns and bright colors to be the focus point of the garment.

fashion

British Blue Banyan 1760-70 and Red Suit 1770-80

During this same time period French fashion was pushing the boundaries and blurring the lines on what was acceptable for women to wear. Striped prints took the place of embroidery, a trend influenced by Asian relations. The print now being used for both female and male attire was previously associated with socially excluded populations. Men’s riding coats, cape collar and lapels were some of the masculine trends implemented into the Redingote or women’s dresses. To the dismay of  French magazines and their progressive efforts the public viewed the this trend as a perverse mixing of gender roles.

historical fashion

1790s Men tailcoat and 1787 Women’s Redingote

19th Century Masterworks: Technical developments in tools and speed and changes in  silhouettes

This century saw quick changes in a garment’s silhouette as opposed to the 18th century, which relied on materials to progress fashion. The use of bustles, crinolines and corsets was introduced drastically changing the form of a woman’s body. Technical abilities in cutting and sewing progressed with the introduction of the Jacard loom and the sewing machine. These tools allowed for garments to be made faster, cheaper and created ready-made or ready to wear accessibility. During this period the introduction of  Haute Couture by designer Charles Fredrick Worth was also pushing fashion forward. His tradition of labeling his pieces introduced the notion that a designer was a creator and artist.

fashion

Paul Poiret Opera Coat 1911

Fashion History

House of Worth 1898

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Twentieth Century Masterworks: Innovation and Reinvention

War World One like many other aspects of society affected fashion. Simple garments with less body restrictions was the norm. Haute Couture masters such as Paul Poiret and  Madeleine Vionnet embraced the uncorseted frame by using the draping method. As usual fashion and art intertwined with the surrealist movement inspiring collections by Elsa Schiaparelli and Charles James. As some designers looked to the future others looked to the past. Jeanne Lanvin’s mid-eighteenth  century inspired pieces included techniques used in the 1800’s. Techniques such as simpler silhouettes with bold embroidery and prints were used again .

Left:Madeleine Vionnet 1929 Haute Couture, inspired by the past and future fashion.
Right: John Galliano Spring/Summer 1999. Inspired by Madeline Vionnet gowns.

Fashion

Both House of Lanvin Haute Couture
Left: Traviata Robe De Style Winter 1928. Right Robe De Style 1926-27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late Twentieth Century Masterworks: Cultural Combinations, Youth Dominance and Couture’s Survival

At this point in fashion the popularity of Haute Couture was waning as the boom of ready to wear excelled. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent guided couture into relevancy by combining traditional couture elegance and modern street style. Cristobal Balenciaga  looked to the past and continued implementing 17th century structures with modern details. While punk visionary Vivienne Westwood lead the uprise of deconstructive fashion. Influences for her 1970’s,80’s and continuous collections included the fashion of the 17th-19th centuries.

Historical fashion

Left : Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Spring Summer 2014. Right Yves Saint Laurent 1971. The Rive Gauche line by YSL used inspiration from the 40s.

Fashion History

Chicago Jacket by House of Dior by Yves Saint Laurent Autumn/Winter 1960-61. Referenced a moto jacket but couture made.

 

 

Contemporary Masterworks: Rebellion, Expression of the times, Garments with multiple meanings

Masters of the moment included Hussein Charlatan, Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Alexander McQueen. The advancement of the deconstructive technique by Margiela unveiled the intricate details of the construction of a garment. A process normally only seen by the designer. The use of unconventional materials was introduced and paired with traditional couture techniques. Materials like porcelain and wood were transformed and conformed to a women’s shape. By doing this designers expanded the relationship between a women’s body and clothing as well as peoples traditional ideas of fashion. Pop culture, politics and perceptions were also questioned and applied to the creation of a garment. From my recollection of my college days even the  history of a country and its fashion inspired collections. Alexander McQueen and John Galliano both designed the traditional corset with  progressive materials like coiled wire.

Fashion

Yarmoto 2006-2007 Black silk, plastic and cashmere wool bustier. Issey Miake 1880-81 red molded polyester resin and cellulose nitrate bustier

history fashion

Pannier hooped petticoat 1760-70.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Harold Koda Gift

Curators are preservers of art who expand the lifespan of each piece. By doing so they allow art to live beyond its prime and introduce generations of observers to a historical world. This is what Harold Koda did as Curator in Charge at the Costume Institute for fifteen years before retiring in January of 2016. In tribute to him current Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton and Met Trustee Anna Wintour commissioned thirty designers to donate selections of their archives to the Met. Each  piece chosen held significance for Honda and found a purposeful position in the existing collection. Designers recalled their admiration and relationship with Koda that was cultivated through collaborations for the Costume Institute.

Fashion History

Philip Treacy “Paphiopedilum Philippines Hat. Spring/Summer 2000

Historical Fashion

Maison Margiela by John Galliano Coat Dress 2015-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exhibit gives an inside look at how fashion continues to be influenced by history. It showcases how innovative designers find a way to move fashion forward with techniques of the past and future.  Masterworks:Unpacking Fashion will be on through February 4th 2017. Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000th 5th Ave, NY,NY,

T.S.