You might not expect that a Metropolitan Museum of Art fashion exhibit would be named after the cult film Death Becomes Her. Strange as it seems, the passing of fashion legend Oscar de la Renta, fashion and All Hallows Eve have converged at The Met. This new exhibition explores the evolution of funeral attire from 1815 to 1915 with some 300 dresses worn during the mourning period that was once a part of life after death. The cultural implications will be illuminated through mostly women’s clothing and accessories, showing the progression of appropriate fabrics from mourning crape to corded silks, and the later introduction of color with shades of gray and mauve. The social implications of the day, from the distance of the early 21st century, seem bizarre. Curator Jessica Regan says;
“The veiled widow…(was) a woman of sexual experience without marital constraints, she was often imagined as a potential threat to the social order.”
Featured in the show is the dress worn by Queen Victoria to mourn Prince Albert I. She worn mourning clothes for the rest of her life, btw. THAT is love – and fashion – and tradition, all rolled into one royal.
Death Becomes Her; A Century of Mourning Attire opens today at The Metropolitan Museum‘s Anna Wintour Costume Gallery and runs through February 1, 2015