|Illustration by Charles Dana Gibson|
Now, my dears, don't fret, grieving in style, "Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Anna Wintour Costume Center's first fall exhibition in seven years reveals the high-fashion standard on sartorial dictate of bereavement rituals as they evolved over the century. One look on display was actually a wedding dress, designed to reflect half-mourning in honor of those lost in the Civil War. Of course, the queen of mourning Queen Victoria, the perpetual widow is represented, but her career as a widow is taking the whole black concept way beyond realistic reasons to carry on. However, there were specific periods designated for mourning. A widow might have to wear her weeds for two years, one year for a parent and six months for a brother or sister. With the death rate of infant children and relatives in general a wee gal could be drench in Black almost all of her adult life.
As Harold Koda, Curator in charge in The Costume Institute remarked, " A veiled widow could elicit sympathy as well as predatory male advances." Relief came to vogue with half-mourning ensembles that were appropriate at toward the end of the grieving period, and introduced shades of gray and mauve into the palette.
The show is arranged chronologically from 1815 through 1915, with about 30 ensembles. Far from being morbid the show is actually a study of past rituals which was mainly expressed by dull, matte fabrics and this gave forth an entire business of dyers.
An ensemble was not complete without specially designed mourning jewelry, fans and parasols. One very touching locket is an enamel image of the deceased, often a child. Charles Dana Gibson's illustrations from Life Magazine add a whimsical touch to the serious matter of mourning. Through February 1, 2015.
THE POWER OF STYLE; VERDURA AT 75 On the brighter side of fashion is alive and vibrantly on display in a retrospective exhibition, open to the public, at 745 Fifth Avenue in the Verdura Gallery, showcasing the work of jeweler Duke Fulco di Verdura, creator of breathtaking statement pieces of jewelry from iconic cuffs to elegant pendants.
|Verdura's "Wrapped Heart Brooch|
Whether you are discovering Verdura for the first time or have been a devotee of his genre there is a sense of whimsy, magical enchantment at every step into the history of Verdura's images. Breathtaking to behold are Coco Chanel's original "Maltese Cross" cuffs, circa 1930, the original wrapped "Sash" Heart brooch that Tyrone Power commissioned for his wife Annabella for Christmas 1942, never before seen on public display. Then there's the master of surrealism, Salvador Dali's surrealistic pieces and Joan Fontaine's own "Winged" brooch worn in Hitchcock's Suspicion.
Be sure to sit in the tiny back room to view a film of Verdura himself, from the "Nan Garcia Show," the only known recording of Fulco di Verdura speaking about his life as a design innovator. Film Clips in another room reveal the numerous films in which the stars of yesteryear wore Verdura jewelry with their fashionable wardrobes. On view now through December 23, 2014, Monday-Friday 11 am-5 pm and Saturdays starting November 29 from 11 am - 5 pm.
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