Glamourous Fashion at the MOCA
Today I visited the two mini-exhibitions on fashion at the Museum of Chinese in America in NYC. They are small, but as the saying goes, perfectly formed. Radiating elegance and style, the pair creates the sense of the old and the new, and also highlights a thread of sartorial sense Chinese-style across decades and continents.
Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s takes a look at Shanghai fashion at the beginning of the 20th century, by presenting a selection of dresses, accessoires, printed media, and short clips from movies (including a Chinese version of Lady Windermere’s Fan). Through eloquent and to-the-point descriptions, the visitors comes to understand the world of these new women, from sparkling socialites to free-spirited students to actresses and hostesses. There are also intriguing glimpses into the changesin fashion introduced by some leaders of the set – such as the “trimming” of the qipao – as well as the glamorous life of the international set, and the influence of Western dress on the Chinese style, as well as the Western fascination with the allure of the Chinese dress.
Front Row in contrast focuses on contemporary Chinese American designers living and working in New York – famous names such as Anna Suy, Derek Lam, Philip Lim and Vera Wang are present and accounted for. The display is eclectic and well-illuminated and set against a white background; there are also videos of catwalk shows, featuring some of the pieces on exhibit, and the experience is accompanied by the soundtrack of the designers’ interviews, who speak about their life in one of the most vibrantly artistic cities in the world.