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“Death Becomes Her” Opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Death Becomes Her” Opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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What might be sad is actually quite sartorial.

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, opens Tuesday (10/21/14) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This exhibit, which explores mourning fashions of the 19th and 20th centuries, is The Costume Institute’s first fall exhibition in seven years, and is on view through February 1, 2015.


Grieving required quite the get-up!  Shown to a soundtrack of Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem,” this fashion feature of some 30 ensembles — including two for men! — reveals not only the evolution of bereavement with high-fashion social standards, but also the remarkable growth of the 19th century mourning industry.

“Elaborate standards of mourning set by royalty spread across class lines via fashion magazines,” according to Jessica Regan, Assistant Curator, “and the prescribed clothing was readily available for purchase through mourning ‘warehouses’ that proliferated in European and American cities by mid-century.”


High fashion silhouettes, and mourning gowns worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra, are accompanied by fashion plates, jewelry and accessories.   Examples of restrained simplicity are shown alongside those with ostentatious ornamentation.

Mourning as a fashion phenomenon: It’s not morbid… it was just à la mode.