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Metropolitan Museum to exhibit mourning attires this fall
08
Oct '14
courtesy: Met Museum/Karin Willis
courtesy: Met Museum/Karin Willis
Bereavement clothing, the attires worn by mourners during the funeral rituals of a deceased, will be the subject of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s forthcoming fall season exhibition.

Slated to take place from October 21, 2014 and will run through February 1, 2015 at the museum’s Anna Wintour Costume Center, the exhibit, which will showcase some 30 never-seen-before ensembles, will aim to explore the significant changes that took place in mourning garments since the 19th to early 20th centuries.

Dubbed as ‘Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire’, the display will chart the evolution of the attires in terms of aesthetic development, the impact of high-fashion standards on the sartorial dictates of bereavement rituals and cultural implications over the century.

While speaking on the importance of mourning apparels, the curator of the exhibition, Harold Koda, says “The predominantly black palette of mourning dramatizes the evolution of period silhouettes and the increasing absorption of fashion ideals into this most codified of etiquettes.”

To be organized chronologically with mourning dresses from 1815 to 1915, the thematic exhibition will highlight women’s clothing (mainly sourced from The Costume Institute’s collection) with a spotlight on the progression in choice of fabrics, such as crape and corded silks, as well as the later introduction of colours like gray and mauve other than the age old black.

Some of the major highlights of the display will be mourning gowns worn by the likes of Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra as well as a range of historic photographs and other fashion accessories worn generally with bereavement dresses.

The assistant curator, Jessica Regan, talked about the easy availability of mourning fashions in that period, “Elaborate standards of mourning set by royalty spread across class lines via fashion magazines, and the prescribed clothing was readily available for purchase through mourning ‘warehouses’ that proliferated in European and American cities by mid-century.” (PB)

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