CHINA: Through the Looking Glass

Metropolitan Museum of Art
China Through the Looking Glass, MET NYC

In 2015, the Costume Institute transformed the walls of the MET Museum into a breathtaking exhibition based on the theme, China: Through the Looking Glass.

An homage to China – incorporating their heritage, their history but also visually portraying China through a literal looking glass – as art, fashion and movies have portrayed it to be.


Between you and I, this page was tough for me to write.

The night I went to this exhibit my friends dragged me out to distract myself. My uncle was really sick in the hospital and I wouldn’t be traveling to see him until the following day.

I was stuck, I was heartbroken and I was scared. They knew this and made me leave my apartment to see some beautiful fashion, the perfect distraction.

I’m glad they did because it worked – temporarily anyway.

Revolutionary China

China Through the Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Through the Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Through the Looking Glass, MET NYC
China Through the Looking Glass, MET NYC
China Looking Glass, MET NYC
China Looking Glass, MET NYC

No Ordinary Exhibit

Covering 30,000 square feet, the meticulous attention to detail not only left you breathless, but made it clear that an extraordinary amount of hours had been spent in the planning and creation of every aspect of this exhibit.

The carefully curated pieces were impeccable as was the placement throughout the exhibit. Just when you thought you had seen it all in one room, another took your breath away and left you wondering,

“What more could they possibly show me that could top this?” 

China Looking Glass, MET NYC
China looking Glass, MET NYC
China Looking Glass, MET NYC
China Looking Glass, MET NYC
China Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET
CHina Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET

Moon In The Water

Then this room happened. And all I could do was cry.

It was then I realized I had been holding my breath in since my uncle had gotten sick, much in the same way you sharply inhale when you’re shocked, but I had forgotten to exhale again.

We were losing him and all this time I didn’t want to believe it.

China Looking Glass, NYC MET
China Looking Glass, NYC MET

Walking into this part of the exhibit, beautifully named Moon in the Water, brought me a peace I hadn’t known for months. Between the sound of water and the gentle prayer music playing, my body simply exhaled. Finally.

This was the moment that I accepted, I grieved and I let go.

In hindsight, I am glad that my friends convinced me to go. While it did provide the distraction I yearned for, it also gave me the release I didn’t know I desperately needed. 

We lost my uncle two days later. 

Rather than feeling angry with life for making him sick and now taking him away, I accepted that he had been in pain and now was finally at peace. I was heartbroken of course, but thankful that I was able to release so much negativity before seeing him one last time.

 

China Looking Glass, MET NYC

Grand Finale

The showstopper of the entire exhibition was in a room all on its own, surrounded by serenity and Buddha. 

The Lotus Gown, a spectacular strapless gown created by the Chinese designer, Guo Pei, left everyone that stepped into the room in complete awe. It felt like looking at a gold shimmering sunrise on a black lacquer platform. 

The gown’s bodice and hem were described to resemble the lotus petals of Buddhism.

China Looking Glass, MET NYC

Art, in whatever form that may encompass, has a way of speaking directly to the soul. The Costume Institute achieved this and so much more. 

This exhibit turned out to be exactly what I needed during one of the toughest times in my life. 

I will never forget it for as long as I live. 

Special Extras

To commemorate this spectacular exhibit, The MET worked with Vogue magazine to create a 10-page spread for the May publication featuring dresses from the actual exhibit. 

China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread
China Looking Glass Vogue Spread

China: Through the Looking Glass
Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 7 – September 7, 2015