No venue more could be more suitable for the current exhibition of the MET 'Heavenly Bodies - Fashion and the catholic imagination' than the the Medieval Museum part of the The Metropolitan Museum in NYC, THE CLOISTERS !
This museum is overlooking the Hudson River in uptown NYC and is dedicated to the Decorative Arts, architecture and gardens of medieval Europe. What is unusual is that it consists literally of parts, or even entire buildings, of 12th century Europe, as you can appreciate with the variety of columns above. A very successful patchwork of building elements of the same period, a fact that ties it all together.
The chapels, cloisters, cornerstones, and corbels, even entire abbeys, have been sourced in France after they had fallen into disuse, mainly after the French Revolution, and were reassembled and preserved in their new home in America.
With its quiet gardens and courtyards, The Cloisters evoke monastic life and with extensive courtyards, sprinkling fountains and abundant greenery, provide instant respite for the wary modern day traveler. A very special destination in NYC and well worth the subway ride.
But not only is the medieval grouping of buildings inviting, the permanent collection also holds great attractions.
What particularly caught my imagination was another 'Unicorn' tapestry series.
After having seen "The Lady and the Unicorn" in Sydney recently, I was completely captivated. Following it up so soon with this very similar collection of six tapestries was a unique opportunity to compare both.
Here the skill seems equally as unparalleled, they were both produced in Flemish workshops of the same period and are both shrouded in mystery as to their origin and exact meaning.
I just felt The Cloisters 'Hunt of the'Unicorn' is very sad as the unicorn is captured and slaughtered; this being a metaphor for Christianity conquering paganism.
The ' Lady and the Unicorn', that is normally housed in the Musée de Cluny in Paris and was lent to Sydney, is an allegory of a lover being captured in form of a unicorn. Indeed a version I much prefer!
The Unicorn lives on in modern fashion
But this blog is about dyeing, or at least Haute couture and fashion, so let me show you some highlights of the more restrained part of the 'Heavenly Bodies' exhibition ...
Inspiration for the ‘Wings’ in Handmaid’s Tale?
see next two images below
This image gives you an idea how well the exhibits were integrated into their surroundings.
Valentino outfit, description above.
Monastic, dramatic and regal
There is another high priestess of monastic fashion - Claire McCardell (1929) whose fashion I can't show you because unfortunately her pieces were impossible to photograph in their display cases due to strong reflection. But her dresses were amazing and worth mentioning, especially since her work still lives on in patterns. Her signature style evokes an aesthetic of austerity and simplicity, timeless designs to be worn in perpetuity. (Her 'Cloister dress' was adapted in' Folkwear' patterns).
I hope you enjoyed your little excursion to the Cloisters -Met or you might have gained some inspiration for your next trip.