Jean Shrimpton in coat, 1964, by London of Sloane Street (British, founded
1920, British Vogue, January 1964, Photograph by David Bailey (British, born 1938), Photograph courtesy of David Bailey.

Model to Supermodel, the Embodiment of Fashion, Ideal of Beauty

Veruschka in safari suit, 1968, by Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008), French Vogue, August, 1968, Photograph by Franco Rubartelli (Italian, born 1937), Photograph courtesy of Rubartelli – Vogue France.

Twiggy in dress, spring/summer 1967, by Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936- 2008), Vogue, March 15, 1967, Photograph by Bert Stern (American, born 1929), Photograph by Bert Stern/Courtesy Staley-Wise Gallery, New York.

Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford in tops, 1990, by Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (American, born Italy, 1933-1989), British Vogue, January 1990, Photograph by Peter Lindbergh (German, born 1944), Photograph courtesy of Peter Lindbergh.

Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder, Stephanie Seymour in Gianni Versace (Italian, 1946-1997), Autumn/Winter 1991-1992, Vogue, September 1991, Photograph by Peter Lindbergh (German, born 1944), Photograph courtesy of Peter Lindbergh.

Kate Moss in overall dress, 1994, by Anna Molinari Blumarine (Italian, founded 1977), Harper’s Bazaar, December 1994, Photograph by Peter Lindbergh (German, born 1944), Photograph courtesy of Peter Lindbergh.

Peggy Moffitt in topless swimsuit by Rudi Gernreich, 1964 (American, born Austria, 1922–1985), Photograph by William Claxton (American, 1927-2008), Photograph by William Claxton/Courtesy of Demont Photo Management.

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
at 82nd Street
212-535-7710
New York
The Costume Institute
The Tisch Galleries, second floor
The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion
May 6-August 9, 2009

The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion examines a timeline of fashion over the past 100 years through the paradigm of the fashion model while exploring the reciprocal relationship between high fashion and evolving ideals of beauty, focusing on iconic fashion models in the latter half of the 20th century and their roles in projecting, and sometimes inspiring, the fashion of their respective eras. According to Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “We look at the power of clothing, fashion photography, and the model to project the look of an era. With a mere gesture, or the line of her body, a truly stellar model can sum up the attitude of her time, creating an alluring synergy between herself and the clothing to communicate a designer’s message to the wider world.”

“The exhibition will examine a timeline of fashion from 1947 to 1997 through the idealized aesthetic of the fashion model,” said Koda. “We will look at the power of clothing, fashion photography, and the model to project the look of an era. With a mere gesture, a truly stellar model can sum up the attitude of her time, becoming more than a muse to designers or photographers— she can become a muse to a generation.”

The exhibition features approximately 70 masterworks of haute couture and ready-to-wear. Fashion editorial, advertising, and runway photography plus video footage of models, actresses, socialites, and rock stars who epitomize their epochs will be used throughout the galleries to explicate the fashion zeitgeist.

The exhibition begins with a prelude to the model era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when society ladies and showgirls were chosen and were paid a pittance to appear in creations by Worth and Poiret in ateliers, out to theater, and on occasion in fashionable magazines. The emergence of the modern woman in prewar society and the photography of Edward Steichen set the stage for Marion Morehouse — one of the first models known to the larger public by name. Later, in the wake of the postwar resurgence of the American fashion and advertising industries, Dior’s New Look and a proliferation of model agencies created an atmosphere from which high-fashion models with celebrated personalities and distinctive identities emerged. Lisa Fonssagrives, Dovima, Suzy Parker, Sunny Harnett, and Dorian Leigh personified the ’40s and ’50s, an era that has since come to be regarded as The Golden Age of Haute Couture. Capturing their rarified gestures and haughty aristocratic grandeur, photographers such as Irving Penn, Horst, Richard Avedon, and Norman Parkinson portrayed these beauties in fashions by Balenciaga, Jacques Fath, and Christian Dior for advertisements and editorial shoots—many of which are now considered among the most important photographic images of the 20th century.

The exhibition, in the Museum’s second-floor Tisch Galleries, will explore how models transmit social change via photographs that document turning points in society and design. With the post-WWII resurgence of the American fashion and advertising industries, Dior’s New Look and a proliferation of model agencies created an environment from which high-fashion models with celebrated personalities and distinctive identities emerged. Lisa Fonssagrives, Dovima, Suzy Parker, Sunny Harnett, and Dorian Leigh personified this Golden Age of Haute Couture. Photographers such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Cecil Beaton portrayed the new ideal of feminine artifice. Daywear from Christian Dior and eveningwear from Charles James will evoke the mood of the time, and in some cases, recreate scenes from important photographs.

A large gallery inspired by the 1966 film Qui êtes-vous Polly Maggoo? will channel the Sixties “Youthquake” with ensembles from Paco Rabanne, André Courrèges, and Rudi Gernreich who heralded the transformation from a sophisticated to a girlish ideal, moving from Jean Shrimpton to Peggy Moffitt, Veruschka, and Twiggy. The next gallery will focus on the ’70s, when athletic models such as Lisa Taylor and Jerry Hall enlivened the simple, unstructured goddess dresses of Halston and the haute bohemian looks of Yves Saint Laurent. At the same time, avant-garde ready-to-wear designers Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, and Gianni Versace began to usurp the authority of the haute couture.

In the 1980s, supermodels expressed an idealized glamour, dissolving boundaries between runway, editorial, and advertising work. Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington emerged as the “Trinity” appearing in designers’ global campaigns for brands seeking to bolster their houses’ identities. These models could morph into a different persona at each photo shoot, but always retained their priceless distinction.

By the 1990s, grunge and street style led to a radical shift from glamorous beauty to the rebel chic of Kate Moss, much as Twiggy supplanted Jean Shrimpton in the ’60s. The exhibition’s presentation of the minimalism of Donna Karan, Helmut Lang, and Prada that immediately followed will show how models of this era became an anonymous template of replicated perfection, allowing the clothing to supersede all. A coda to the exhibition will feature the Richard Prince and Marc Jacobs collaboration of masked, unidentifiable nurses (Stephanie Seymour and Natalia Vodianova) in Louis Vuitton.

Calvin Klein, and the eccentricity of young Belgian, Japanese, and British designers, still relied on supermodels, with newcomers like Amber Valletta, Nadja Auermann, and Shalom Harlow rising to “It Girl” status. By the close of the century, über-model Gisele Bündchen elevated and branded the supermodel aesthetic, enhancing it with the added sheen of global superstar status — working all areas from print to runway to movie screen with unprecedented ubiquity.

Designers in the exhibition will include Giorgio Armani, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Pierre Cardin, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, André Courrèges, Christian Dior, John Galliano for Christian Dior, Rudi Gernreich, Halston, Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis, Charles James, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, and Gianni Versace.

Iconic models featured will include Nadja Auermann, Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Dovima, Linda Evangelista, Lisa Fonssagrives, Jerry Hall, Shalom Harlow, Sunny Harnett, Lauren Hutton, Iman, Dorian Leigh, Peggy Moffitt, Kate Moss, Suzy Parker, Jean Shrimpton, Christy Turlington, Twiggy, Amber Valletta, and Veruschka.

Photographers whose images captured the mood of fashion via their subjects, and whose work will be in the exhibition, include Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Cecil Beaton, William Claxton, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, Hiro, William Klein, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, Craig McDean, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn, Franco Rubartelli, Francesco Scavullo, Bert Stern, Juergen Teller, Deborah Turbeville, and Ellen von Unwerth.The exhibition is organized by Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, and Kohle Yohannan, guest co-curator. John Myhre, an Academy Award-winning production designer and art director for films including Dreamgirls, Chicago, and Memoirs of a Geisha, serves as the exhibition’s creative consultant.

The exhibition is organized by Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, and Kohle Yohannan, guest co-curator, and a cultural historian. John Myhre, an Academy Award-winning production designer and art director for films including Dreamgirls, Chicago, and Memoirs of a Geisha, serves as creative consultant. Faces, wigs, and headdresses will be designed and styled by Julien d’Ys.

The design for the 2009 Costume Institute Gala Benefit will be created by John Myhre with Raul Avila.

A book, The Model as Muse, written by Harold Koda and Kohle Yohannan, accompanies the exhibition. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

Linda Evangelista in Love Collection, Spring/Summer 1991 advertising campaign for Dolce & Gabbana (Italian, founded 1982), Photograph by Steven Meisel (American, born 1954), © Steven Meisel/Art + Commerce.

Blow Up, 1966, David Hemmings and Veruschka, still photograph from the film Blow Up, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, The Kobal Collection/MGM/Arthur Evans.

Kate Moss in dress by Helmut Lang (Austrian, born 1956), Harper’s Bazaar, November 1996, Photograph by Craig McDean (British, born 1964), © Craig McDean/Art + Commerce.

Models in dresses by Charles James Dresses, 1948, Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906-1978), Vogue, June 1948, Photograph by Cecil Beaton (British, 1904-1980), Courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby's.