Reawakening Fashion’—the exhibit surrounding this year’s Met Gala theme—is previewed ahead of public opening

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A lot of people on social media sites like TikTok—which is sponsoring the spring exhibit and gala at the Met this year—see fashion mostly as something to look at. This idea, however, is contested by Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bolton argues in her most recent exhibition, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” that the world of fashion stimulates more than just sight, including scent, touch, and hearing.

Presenters Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, and Zendaya delve into the sensory elements of design through an exploration of natural plants and animals. It showcases how fashion, once worn, continues to resonate as a treasured relic in a museum environment, featuring over 220 pieces from the museum’s costume collections together with recent purchases.

Red Roses - Courtesy

Red Roses – Courtesy

During the preview of the exhibit, Met Museum CEO Max Hollein emphasized the clothes’ multi-sensory aspects. Taking clothing off the body and displaying it in a museum, where visitors cannot interact with it through touch, movement, or other senses, is a radical change, he said.

One of the exhibit’s sponsors, Jonathan Anderson of Loewe, lauded Bolton for giving historically accurate clothing and objects new life. He paid tribute to Bolton’s skill in connecting the past and present by giving modern viewers a sense of connection with historical clothing.

Reseda Luteola – Courtesy

Bolton worked with tech specialists like Nick Knight to make the display more immersive for visitors’ senses. The exhibit uses state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence to bring the clothing to life and take viewers on a multisensory adventure through the history of fashion.

Even the aroma of perfumes used by the models is audible to those who visit the display, along with the rustling of textiles and the clinking of accessories. In order to stimulate the senses and bring back memories of fashion, several rooms let visitors engage with the exhibits hands-on, allowing them to smell or touch various objects.

The exhibition comprises excellent art pieces, historical clothes, and even uses artificial intelligence to make some of the outfits come to life. The use of artificial intelligence technology allows visitors to engage with the history and stories of the garment, in this case a wedding dress from the 1930s.

Overall, ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’ provides a fresh take on the sensory aspects of fashion, shedding light on its multimodal roots while questioning the idea that it is just a visual industry.

Ethan Sullivan

Ethan's penchant for the pulse of the fashion world extends to covering lifestyle topics, offering readers a seamless blend of the latest style updates and lifestyle trends.

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