‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’: A enchanting journey through history and artistry

Of course it had to be a sunny May afternoon. I travelled from Downtown to uptown on the Big Apple’s famous subways to make my way to one of the most celebrated exhibitions of the year: the Metropolitan Museum’s ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’. The show opened with the annual Met Gala, a celebrity filled fashion night which is splashed across all media across the world.

The exhibit was enchanting, to say the least. It was a  journey through the history and artistry of some of the most iconic fashion pieces created by celebrated stalwarts of the fashion industry.

Marni

The exhibit began with a stunning display from the House of Worth, among the first culture houses in the world. It featured ball gowns from the late 1800s in exquisite silk chiffons, highlighting the craftsmanship and timeless elegance that set the stage for the evolution of fashion. 

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Elsa Schiaparelli 1939

Moving through, I could see how fashion has graduated and transformed over the decades. The transition from the classic silhouettes of the 19th Century to the more experimental and avant garde designs of the modern era was fascinating. 

One piece that particularly caught my eye was the digitally cut-out floral dress by Marni. This dress exemplified how progressive fashion has become, utilising digital innovations and advanced techniques, creating an interplay of traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. This was a recurring theme throughout the Marni showcase. This also showed the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of fashion. 

One of the highlights for me was the collection of Schiaparelli hats from the summers of 1939, 1940, and 1942. These hats, designed by the legendary Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli, epitomised her innovative and avant garde approach to fashion. I’ve always been obsessed with Schiaparelli, not just for the brand’s bold and surreal designs but for Elsa Schiaparelli herself – a visionary who dared to defy conventions and push the boundaries of fashion. The hats on display were a testament to her genius, each one a work of art that showcased how she used to blend whimsy with sophistication. 

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Dolce & Gabbana and Dior

Another unforgettable piece was the snake dress by Iris Van Herpen. Known for her fusion of technology and couture, Van Herpen’s designs are groundbreaking. The snake dress was no exception — it featured intricate patterns and textures that mimicked the scales of a snake, creating a mesmerising effect. The dress seemed almost alive, embodying Van Herpen’s philosophy of merging the organic with the technological. It was a perfect representation of her inventive spirit and her ability to push the boundaries of fashion into the realm of art. 

One of my personal favorites was the Torisheju Dumi ‘Mami Wata’ ensemble. This ensemble was a striking representation of the mythological figure Mami Wata, often depicted as a mermaid or water spirit in African folklore. The ensemble was rich with cultural symbolism and featured intricate details that celebrated the power and mystique of this legendary figure done in all-black deadstock cotton. 

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Then came the enchanting rose dresses from Valentino, Dior, and Dolce & Gabbana. These were unmissable, they presented a theatrical take with three-dimensional rose appliqués. The structuring was a 100. 

Being a designer myself, I was only too thrilled to understand the sophistication of these garments, despite their vintage. The exhibit was a feast for the senses.

Mayyur Girotra

Mayyur Girotra