An on-line news service devoted to museums and exhibitions in New York City and vicinity. John Hammond, Editor Emeritus • Jonathan Slaff, Publisher

The Museum Gazetteer


Fashion Queens are at the MET.

The Model as Muse Catalogue Cover.

Can models be the muses of the designer, creating themselves the fashions for their generation? This is the theme of the summer exhibit at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, open until August 9, 2009.

Peter Lindbergh (German, b. 1944). Naomi Campbell in Geoffrey Beene, Vogue, June 1990. Courtesy of Peter Lindbergh.

On opening night, top super -models of the world like Cindy Crawford, Gisele Bündchen, Claudia Schiffer, and Kate Moss attended, there was a lot of fanfare.

Let's discover what is really exhibited at the most glamorous exhibit of the year.

Exploring the reciprocal relationship between high fashion and evolving ideals of beauty, "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion" focuses on iconic models of the twentieth century and their roles in projecting, and sometimes inspiring, the fashion of their respective eras. "The exhibition examines a timeline of fashion from 1947 to 1997 through the idealized aesthetic of the fashion model," said Harold Koda, Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute.

Each room of the exhibit presents the main style of each decade in the last 50 years.

From left to right: Louis Vuitton (French, founded 1854). Marc Jacobs (American, born 1964). Ensemble worn by Natalia Vodianova, Spring/Summer 2008. White techno silk lab coat; multicolored silk tie-dyed dress
Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.
Dresses by Dior (French, founded 1947) by John Galliano haute couture Fall/Winter 2005-2006, at "The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion."

We begin with the elegance of the '50s. An excerpt from the film "Funny Face" was shown behind the mannequins. You can discover what is most characteristic of the style. In the '50s, women wanted to be chic and elegant, wearing Christian Dior. The strict look of Coco Chanel also was popular. Hepburn became the muse of Givenchy in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

The '60s were a revolutionary phase in the history of fashion. The fussiness of women in the 50's was outmoded and style transformed into more geometric and flat silhouettes. Freedom and youth arrived on the fashion podium. The trapeze dress was made famous by Pierre Cardin.

Style was resolutely Hippie for the '70s. The bohemian look of Yves Saint Laurent was all the craze. The hippie punk and disco movement were very present during those years and bell-bottom trousers became the fashion symbol of the decade. New designers like Kenzo, Thierry Mugler and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac arrived on the fashion scene.
Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, and
Cindy Crawford in tops, 1990, by Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (American, born
Italy, 1933 1989). British Vogue, January 1990. Photograph by Peter Lindbergh (German, born 1944)
Photograph courtesy of Peter Lindbergh.

The new thing about the '80s was the arrival of world-known models like Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. Fashion reached a larger audience, swallowing all the media and advertising. The 80's look was an awesome mix of colors, details and motifs. At the same time, the "new wave" boom inspired a rock chic and a sexy appearance.

Installation of the '90s room at "The Model as a Muse." Photo by Suzanne Trouve Feff.

Julien d'Ys, the French hairstylist who worked on the mannequins at the exhibit, made a fantastic mural representing the grunge and street style of the '90s, including old sneakers with holes and torn-up jeans. Background music is by Nirvana. The gallery also includes amazing photographs of top models of the '90s.

"The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion" is a very interesting exhibit about fashion history, with more of an historic than an artistic statement. Each room represents perfectly the atmosphere of each decade, its style, its colors, its music and of course its muses. [Suzanne Trouve Feff]


Metropolitan Museum of Art
Facade of the MET Museum on Fifth Avenue, New York. Photo by the MET Museum.

Adress: 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
Opening Hours:
Tuesday–Thursday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 9:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Sunday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Contact :212-535-7710
Price: Suggested Admission:
Adults $20
Seniors (65 and older) $15
Students $10
Official website:

View Larger Map



Suzanne Trouve Feff, a native of Paris, is a contributor to the Museum Gazeeter.