In the Victorian age when a person passed away there was a certain etiquette that had to be followed. The elaborate western tradition of mourning attire is the subject of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Fall exhibition.
This is the first Fall exhibit the Costume Institute has had in 7 years. The reopening of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, will be displaying two exhibits a year. One in Fall, as well as the major exhibit in Spring; which was announced in September to be titled “Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film, and Fashion”.
The collection is in chronological order from 1815 to 1915 (around the time this strict codification began to fade). It is made up of approximately 30 ensembles that explore the cultural implications and show the progression of the rules on these high fashion standards.
The utmost elaborate gowns are on display, making the two- year process of mourning quite beautiful. The death of a women’s husband required her to wear all black for a year and then slowly incorporate white, mauve, grey stripes or checks the following year. Harold Koda, the curator in charge, explained these rules did not only symbolize a woman’s sadness but also her marital constraints, sexual experience, and a threat to social orders.
“Death Becomes her: A century of Mourning Attire” will be on display until February 1, 2015.
Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art