American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity has just opened at The Met over in New York and we’re dying to see it. Exploring the archetypes of American style from 1890 to 1940, it features the work of designers such as Gabrielle Chanel, Madame Grès, Charles James, Jeanne Lanvin, Edward Molyneux, Paul Poiret, Elsa Schiaparelli, Valentina and Madeleine Vionnet.
Laid out as a series of scenes which explore how the American woman’s style changed depending on her social, political, and sexual emancipation, the exhibition offers a real insight into how women’s clothing has evolved. The Heiress, the Gibson Girl, the Bohemian, the Patriot and the Suffragist, the Flapper, and the Screen Siren are all shown wearing their best in panoramas which evoke the eras they're living in.
The first gallery you step into is a drawing room, belonging to the Heiress of the 1890s dressed sumptuously in gowns by couturiers such as Charles Frederick Worth. In another, beaded flapper dresses by Jeanne Lanvin appear in front of an Art Deco cityscape, while against a backdrop resembling a 1930s cinema showcase, the bias cut silk dresses made famous during Hollywood’s Golden Age steal the limelight.
Adding the perfect finishing touch, it's Sarah Jessica Parker who narrates the exhibition! On until
August 15, this is a must-see. Largely possible due to The Met’s partnership with the Brooklyn Museum's Costume Collection, if you’re over the pond, be sure to head over there too where they’re currently staging a parallel show on American fashion designers.
All Pictures: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images