The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion

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Known as some of the most beautiful women on the planet, the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is honoring icons of the modeling world with The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion exhibition, May 6- August 9th.

The exhibition is noted as examining the “timeline of fashion from 1947 to 1997 through the idealized aesthetic of the fashion model," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. "We look at the power of clothing, fashion photography, and the model to project the look of an era. With a mere gesture, a truly stellar model can sum up the attitude of her time – becoming not only a muse to designers or photographers, but a muse to a generation." []

The exhibition includes nearly 80 featured pieces of haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion.  The display weaves fashion editorial, advertising and runway photography—along with full scale projections taken from feature films, to convey five decades cultural shifts and social ideals.

“Golden Age” Muses include Lisa Fonssagrives, Dovima, Suzy Parker, Sunny Harnett, and Dorian Leigh during the reign of haute couture.

60’s icons Jean Shrimpton, Peggy Moffitt, Veruschka, and Twiggy are singled out as personifying the “youthquake” generation.

While the 60’s, idealized a waifish figure—the 1970’s ushered in an all-American aesthetic from standout models Jerry Hall and Lisa Taylor.

After the 1980’s, fashion historians believe the so called “Trinity”—Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington blurred the lines of runway, editorial, and advertising work—becoming superstars in all three areas, opening opportunities through allegiance for future models.

The grunge period of the 90’s held the fashion world’s attention shifting away from glamour coveted in the 1980’s—placing “heroin chic” top model Kate Moss in countless editorial spreads.

While the models take center stage, the designers and photographers who are in part responsible for their muse’s careers are featured as well.  Designers such as Marc Jacobs, Halston, and Georgio Armani along with photographers Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Gilles Bensimon.

To read more about the exhibition or view a video highlighting the show go to

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Filed under Fashion, Fashion News, New York City, runway, Vintage Fashion

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