Historical fashion made my day

May 26, 2024

Last week I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I couldn’t resist this exhibition.  I love historical fashion.  Or any fashion at all.

This particular event was a “reanimation”  of some of the Met  Costume Institute’s “masterworks.” More than 200 designs are featured in the exhibition, and while I don’t present them that way here, they are visually arranged by nature themes to reinforce the transience of fashion.

So come along with me and enjoy some of these beauties:

It’s easy to imagine someone wearing this gown at the court of Marie Antoinette

And while almost 200 years separate these two designs, they seem to go together, don’t they?

This was exquisite. The color, the design.. all of it. A kind of butterscotch color that really worked. Lovely.

I would’ve thought this was from the 1800s in America. But then again, fashion did reach the U.S. later. Just not THAT much later. The cut really looks like Civil War era, but the fabric rings true for the 1700s.


Another gorgeous design that defies era, at least to me. And that color! It wouldn’t work for me but as a work of art? Magnificent.

That tiny waist!

This looks like the era to me.


So Edwardian, you can imagine someone on Downton Abbey wearing this piece.


This one had me stymied. It was the only one that seemed…casual…in the exhibition. But it did bring me back to the first half of the 20th century. I feel like I’ve seen it before. Or maybe I’ve seen the design on feed bags. Well, actually, seed packets. But still.


Dior has always made beautiful gowns.

An inverted tulip. Its structured bodice is very much of its time. Couldn’t you envision Lana Turner wearing it?


These two black pieces are meant to be reminiscent of butterflies coming out of their chrysalis.

And speaking of nature, some flowers, in these two dramatic gowns:

Not my thing, but interesting, pretty pieces of flower art.

This is Yves St. Laurent from 1988. It’s called Irises, of course.

So I call this one The Birds, as it reminds me of the Hitchcock film. Maybe that was his inspiration, I don’t know.


Of all of the fashions I saw, I loved this one best. It was the most “me.” Yes, the hoop skirt is ridiculously impractical, but the color, the cut and the design made me long to wear it. It’s a Belgian designer.

Rodarte is an interesting LA design house that started in 2005. I do like some of its designs. Not all.

Interesting. That’s all I have to say about this one. It’s a work of art, for sure.

No, not out of focus. It’s the way this fabric was printed and the blur made me step closer just to make sure.

And that’s it for this post. I hope you enjoyed the gorgeous historical fashion. If you’d like to see and learn a bit more, here’s a video from the Met’s website. It’s about 20 minutes and you see many different parts of the exhibition much closer up and in vibrant, beautifully rendered images. Don’t miss it!

6 comments on “Historical fashion made my day
  1. Bonnie Moore says:

    Love these! I’m old enough to remember many relatively recent fashion trends – from the hoop skirts we wore in the mid-50s to the currently popular torn jeans. My daughter was a designer and seamstress for exquisite Elizabethan and 19th century clothing. She got her start making costumes for the Renaissance Faire.

  2. Beth Havey says:

    Carol, such fun. I don’t have a favorite…some I could see wearing, others What???

  3. Laurie Stone says:

    OMG. Love them all. So shapely and gorgeous. So feminine. I’d love to try them on. Of course, in Marie Antoinette’s day, they were probably all size 2.

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