CHINA THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Extended through September 7—Labor Day—because of great demand the Met Museum’s China Through The Looking Glass curated by Andrew Bottom of The Costume Institute is an exciting, enchanting and impressive exhibit to behold.
Since the beginning of the west’s awareness of China in the 16th century European designers, artists and architects have been inspired by Chinese designs. The exhibit on three floors begins with Buddhist sculptures—serene faces, some with a gentle smile gift the viewer with an air of peaceful meditation. On the opposite wall is a film of magnificent dancing and in the center stalactites of glass project downward.
Porcelains, jade and calligraphy are on view as well as the Astor Court with a circular “moon gate” that frames a rectangular doorway. Plants, a spring of water and Taihu rocks rest on a floor of gray tile—the half-pavilion is styled after those found in northern China.
Fashions designed for Haute Couture by western designers such as Christian Dior, Paul Poiret and Yves Saint Laurent attract cameras and amazement with their colors and conception. Three striking black gowns introduce Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star. Wong began her career during the silent film era and became a fashion icon. Her career continued into the talkies but though an acclaimed and accomplished actress, her roles were stereotypical and limited because of America’s anti-miscegenation laws which would not allow her to share a kiss on-screen with a person of another race. She moved to Europe in 1928 and received the acclimation she deserved.
She returned to America in the 1930s and in 1934 and was voted “The World’s Best-Dressed Woman” by the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York.