It’s fitting that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute new exhibit opens this month just in time for Halloween. The Costume Institute is displaying over 30 historical mourning outfits along with pictures and paintings from the 100 year time period. Appropriately called Death Becomes Her, it’s the first fall exhibit in over seven years.
The Institute examines the social and cultural effects of mourning clothing from 1815 to 1915. Mourning fashion was set by European nobility and American social elite. Heavy black crepe was the fabric of choice for most women because it readily absorbs light. Queen Victoria’s and Queen Alexandra’s wardrobes are included among the morbid yet high fashion frocks.
The exhibit chooses to end its display in 1915 because mourning clothing went out of fashion once World War I hit. Fabric became scarcer while the amount of deaths were too large to mourn properly. There’s a corner in the exhibit dedicated to jewelry, hats and other accessories worn to accent mourning clothing. The exhibit runs October 21, 2014 to February 1, 2015.