China: Through the Looking Glass

The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

The Costume Institute
and the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits China: Through the Looking Glass. Featuring more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside masterpieces of Chinese art, the exhibition explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. 

Woman's Imperial Court Robe (Chinese)

Woman's Imperial Court Robe (Chinese)

Dress, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, Fall 2004

Dress, Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent, Fall 2004

Renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is the exhibition's artistic director. His films include Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, and most recently The Grandmaster. Wong Kar-wai takes visitors on a cinematic journey through the galleries, interweaving cinema and fashion through his selection of music and edited film montages. These filmic representations of China reveal how our visions of China are shaped by narratives that draw upon popular culture, and serve as a medium through which we understand the richness of Chinese history. 

Curator Andrew Bolton of the Costume Institute explains to NY Mag “I think that when it comes to China, at least with fashion designers, their first entry is really through film. A lot of their impressions of China are actually formed through filmic references. It was important for us to use them as a bridge, in a way.”

Anna May Wong in Daughter of the Dragon, film still, 1931

Anna May Wong in Daughter of the Dragon, film still, 1931

Evening Dress, Ralph Lauren, Fall 2011

Evening Dress, Ralph Lauren, Fall 2011

China: Through the Looking Glass is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 7- August 16, 2015.

All photographs are courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Films referenced in China: Through the Looking Glass: 

In the Mood for Love, 2000, directed by Wong Kar-wai



Maggie Cheung in The Mood for Love (2000), dir. Wong Kar-wai. 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000, directed by Ang Lee

Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), dir. Ang Lee

Hero, 2002, directed by Zhang Yimou

Hero (2002) dir. Zhang Yimou

Farewell My Concubine, 1993, directed by Chen Kaige

Farewell My Concubine (1993), dir. Chen Kaige