China Through the Looking Glass

Evening dress, Fall/Winter 2011–12, by Ralph Lauren

Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA, until 16 August
This exhibition explores how China has fuelled the fashionable imagination for centuries, resulting in highly creative distortions of cultural realities and mythologies. High fashion is juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, paintings, porcelains, and other art, as well as films, to reveal enchanting reflections of Chinese imagery. From the earliest period of contact in the 16th century, the West has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from the East, providing inspiration for fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent, whose fashions are infused with romance, nostalgia, and makebelieve. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions.