Chinese exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum attracts record 815,992 visitors

China: Through the Looking Glass, looking at Chinese aesthetics' impact on Western fashion, included decoration of 1950s Dior dress inspired by Chinese calligraphy about stomach ache

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2015, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 September, 2015, 6:41pm

A New York exhibition exploring Chinese influence on Western fashion attracted a record 815,992 visitors during a four-month summer run that ended on Monday in a sign of China’s growing clout in the United States.

“China: Through the Looking Glass” was the most visited show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and the fifth most popular show at the entire museum overall.It broke the Institute’s previous record set by a 2011 show celebrating the late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, which went on display shortly after his death, the museum said.

Nearly 816,000 visitors flocked to the China exhibition, compared with 661,509 for McQueen

The exhibition, which had opened on May 7, explored the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China fuelled the fashion imagination for centuries.

It juxtaposed some of the world’s finest haute couture with jewellery and works of Chinese art, focusing on Imperial China, 1920-40s Shanghai and the People’s Republic of China.

The exhibition also included a Chinese court transformed into a moonlit pool where John Galliano dresses appeared to float over the surface.

In one of the most humorous comparisons, the decoration on a 1951 Christian Dior French silk dress was shown to be inspired by Chinese calligraphy drawn from a poem complaining about a stomach ache.

China was also the theme of this year’s Met Ball, which kicked off the exhibition and acts as the Institute’s annual fundraiser, the most glittering event in New York high society.

The Costume Institute reopened last year, named after Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who has raised more than US$125 million for the centre since becoming trustee of the Met in 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is New York’s most visited museum, welcoming 6.3 million people last year.

The US Department of Commerce projects visitor growth from China will increase by 172 per cent to 3.1 million by 2019.