The Met Store is fortunate to enjoy a very special relationship with the Museum and its fabulous collections and exhibitions. The annual program inspires and informs the products and books that fill our stores. Every once in a while, we have the opportunity to commission and collaborate with designers featured in an exhibition, or to invite designers to respond to the themes and objects explored within our galleries. China: Through the Looking Glass is one such exhibition.
Organized by The Costume Institute in collaboration with the Department of Asian Art, China: Through the Looking Glass explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and reveals how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries. It draws together more than 140 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear, juxtaposed with film and masterpieces of Chinese costume and art, including paintings, porcelain, jade, bronze, and lacquer.
Alexander McQueen, Cartier, de Gournay, Dries Van Noten, Giambattista Valli, Irene Neuwirth, Jennifer Fisher, Judith Leiber, Marc Alary, Mary Katrantzou, and Stephen Jones have been invited to respond creatively to the themes explored in the exhibition, and we are delighted to present this exclusive collection of fashion accessories, jewelry, and stationery.
Inspiration for this limited-edition collection is taken from the colors of Imperial China, blue-and-white porcelain, China’s distinctive architecture, exquisite botanical paintings, the mysterious archetypal Dragon Lady, and elegant chinoiserie. The design collaborations reflect the West’s continued fascination with China and reveal its ongoing influence through the dynamic lens of fashion.
Broken Skull Scarf by Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen, the eponymous firm of the renowned British designer (1969–2010), is one of fashion’s most influential, imaginative, and inspiring brands. In a haunting collage of blue-and-white porcelain shards merging into a shadowy skull, this luxe scarf re-issue recalls an extraordinary dress featured in China: Through the Looking Glass. Exclusive limited re-edition.
Art Deco Correspondence Cards by Cartier
Since 1847, the Maison Cartier has been synonymous with beauty, excellence, creativity, and a unique savoir faire. Cartier’s Chinese-inspired designs emit a powerful charm and the feeling of another world. This elegant stationery showcases an exquisite Art Deco brooch with Chinese motifs, reproduced exclusively from Maison Cartier’s original 1922 archival drawing. Custom-engraved on Crane #96 kid-finish stock made from tree-free 100% cotton fiber. The firm’s inventive design vocabulary has embraced Chinese themes since 1877.
Temple Newsam and Porden Scarf by de Gournay
From their luxury design house in London, de Gournay’s artisans interpret dreams to create heirloom works of art. The firm’s signature is supreme quality and painstaking attention to detail. Evoking rare Chinese wallcoverings from historic English manors, this hand-painted bespoke design with hand-rolled edges was created from the finest-quality silk by artisans in China. “The Chinese tradition of botanical and zoological painting goes back thousands of years. The birds and flowers are more beautiful than reality and continue to bring vibrancy and color today,” notes Claud Cecil Gurney, founder of de Gournay. Created exclusively in limited quantities.
Phoenix Clutch with Fringe by Dries Van Noten
One of the Antwerp Six, Dries Van Noten is known for prints and fabrics with an ethnic bent, layering designs, and building pattern—always with streamlined elegance. His approach to research is vigorous, often delving into museum archives and collections for inspiration, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum. A new design, this clutch has been specially created. It features silk embroidery from his Autumn/Winter 2012–2013 collection, where Eastern elements are at play, converging into a phoenix- or dragon-like motif. Pieces from his collection will be on view in the exhibition.
Floral Scarf by Giambattista Valli
Italian-born Giambattista Valli launched his eponymous label in 2005 in Paris. He has quickly become known for his dramatic shapes, use of fabrics, and embellishment. Valli’s exclusive scarf is based on a coat design featured in the exhibition, from his Autumn/Winter 2013 haute couture collection of white-and-blue printed silk faille with embroidery. Valli notes, “China holds the allure of deep culture that carries on from the beginning of time to the modern day, not only aesthetically, but also in the fields of philosophy, psychology, medicine, anthropology. This scarf is inspired by the beautiful white-and-blue porcelains from the Tang and Ming dynasties.”
Aquamarine Ring and Fire Opal Ring by Irene Neuwirth
Irene Neuwirth’s jewelry is recognized for its uniquely modern and sophisticated design. The Los Angeles-based designer’s fascination with intense colors and raw, un-manufactured gem cuts have become her signature trademarks. Neuwirth has taken particular inspiration from the incredibly rich hues seen in original archival garments from the Imperial Palace, Beijing. She says, “For the Met this year, I immediately felt that deep orange-reds and turquoise were very Chinese-inspired.” Limited-edition jewelry made to order.
Triple-Peak Spine Cuff and Vertebrae Cuff by Jennifer Fisher
In a limited-edition and curated selection that draws upon the archetype of the supremely chic and mysterious Dragon Lady, Jennifer Fisher’s pieces evoke Chinese mythology; here, the “spine” cuff suggests a dragon’s vertebrae. “Favored by strong, independent women, my jewelry is not unlike the armor so often seen on the Dragon Lady images of the past,” notes Fisher.
Pagoda Minaudière by Judith Leiber
Leiber looked to the Chinese pagodas of yesteryear for this sumptuous limited re-issue, part of her novelty Collector’s Editions from Fall 2010. Encrusted with Austrian crystals, it has the most complex construction of any minaudière in her current repertoire.
Micro Monkey Single Earrings: Blue Vase, Jade Dragon, Gold Fan by Marc Alary
Marc Alary is a French-born, New York-based designer who launched his first fine jewelry collection in 2009. His “Ménagerie” in gold and precious stones draws its inspiration from childhood memories. Featuring the playful antics of delicate, tiny monkeys, these limited-edition and specially created one-of-a-kind fine pieces highlight Alary’s incredible workmanship, detail, and wit. “Monkeys are associated with Asian art, and I wanted to merge the quirkiness of my collection with traditional Chinese elements,” he explains. “The monkey brings a sense of humor and fun to each piece.”
Snake Lake Scarf by Mary Katrantzou
Greek-born designer Mary Kantrantzou’s thematic collections revolve around icons of luxury, focusing on rare art and design objects that she translates into wearable prints. Katrantzou’s hyper-vivid limited-edition scarf presents a mélange of Far Eastern treasures. She says, “My Autumn–Winter 2011 prints, re-issued for this collaboration, were derived from priceless objets d’art such as Coromandel screens and Qianlong porcelain. Their owners once used these objects to weave a world of visual luxury; I wanted to explore how these prized possessions could become intricate prints for women today.”
Openwork Floral Headband by Stephen Jones
For 35 years, U.K.-based milliner Stephen Jones has made modern and compelling works in materials that were often radical, in designs that have ranged from refined to whimsical. His hats are in the collections of the V&A, the Louvre, and the Metropolitan. The renowned milliner’s custom headpieces appear on the mannequins in China: Through the Looking Glass. His abstract floral headband references the lavish blooms of a Chinese garden while displaying the humor and inventiveness of his work.
China: Through the Looking Glass Limited-Edition Catalogue
Available in a special limited, boxed edition of 500, this stunning book explores the influence of Chinese art, film, and aesthetics on international fashion design. Illustrated with new photographs by Platon, this lavish volume features Chinese-fold pages intermixed with translucent, printed vellum overlays. Includes Chinese string binding and a framable print of a Platon photograph.
The limited-edition China: Through the Looking Glass Design Collection is available exclusively at The Met Store’s exhibition shop or by calling 212-570-3767. To view other ranges inspired by the exhibition click here.