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Extreme Fashion On View in New York


Yves Saint Laurent, pret-a-porter, spring-summer 2001

Yves Saint Laurent Prêt-à-Porter, spring-summer 2001, Evening ensemble with bustier, designed by Tom Ford
Photo: Firstview.com

Staff Report

New York, 8 December 2001 - Over time and across cultures, extraordinary manipulations of the body have occurred in a continuing evolution of the concept of beauty. Entitled Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed and on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until 3 March 2002, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see fashion as the practice of some of the most extreme strategies to conform to shifting concepts of the physical ideal.

Various zones of the body—neck, shoulders, bust, waist, hips, and feet—have been constricted, padded, truncated, or extended through subtle visual adjustments of proportion, less subtle prosthesis, and often deliberate physical deformation.

Costumes in the exhibition—ranging from a 16th-century-style iron corset to Jean Paul Gaultier's notorious "Madonna" bustier—will be augmented by anthropological and ethnographic examples and by paintings, prints, and drawings, including caricatures by Cruikshank, Daumier, Rowlandson, and Vernet.

Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Manhattan, New York
6 December 2001 - 3 March 2002

Extreme Beauty
BOOK TIP : Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed
By Harold Koda
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Yale University Press; New Haven and London 2001
168 pages, 225 illustrations (more than 150 in color)
Available in cloth or paper.

The tea-tray supporting bustle of an 1880s French visiting dress; the bound feet and caged nails of aristocratic Manchu women; the neck-extending chokers of the Masai, of Edwardian beauties, and John Galliano's designs for Dior; or the waist suppression of the sixteenth-century iron corsets and the cinches of early nineteenth-century dandies are some of the images in the book published in conjunction with the exhibition Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed

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