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July 23 2014

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The Met Goes Into Mourning

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death becomes herOn October 21, the Met’s Costume Institute will unveil its latest fashion exhibition—and it’s a doozy. Dubbed Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, the show will focus on widow wares from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Sure, it’s no Punk: Chaos to Couture, but I am personally looking forward to this show, and not just because my almost entirely ebony wardrobe very closely mimics that of a grieving Victorian dame. For instance, who knew about the vintage societal stereotypes that surrounded old-timey widows? “The veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances. As a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order,” said Harold Koda, the curator-in-charge of the Costume Institute. Furthermore, Koda said, this garb apparently helps to provide a deeper understanding of the general aesthetic of the time. “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.”

Considering the popularity of death-riddled period dramas like Downton Abbey and the fascination with all things witchy thanks to American Horror Story, this show might just be a blockbuster. And what better way to attract New Yorkers than with an all-black fashion exhibition? Needless to say, I’ll be there with bells on.

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire will be on view at the Costume Institute from October 21, 2014 through February 1, 2015.

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Dept. of Culture