The Harold Koda Gift

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Honoring Harold Koda 
In January 2016 Harold Koda retired after fifteen years as Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During his tenure Harold elevated fashion as a legitimate and meaningful form of artistic expression by organizing intellectually challenging and conceptually provocative exhibitions. If you were to ask Harold how he would want to be remembered, however, he would respond without hesitation “the collection,” which he helped expand exponentially through a number of significant acquisitions.   Upon Harold’s retirement, Metropolitan Museum Trustee Anna Wintour and Curator in Charge Andrew Bolton approached more than thirty designers to donate works from their archives in honor of Harold’s unrivaled contributions to the study, exhibition, and appreciation of fashion. Presented here are selections from those gifts, all of which Harold had long coveted for The Costume Institute’s permanent collection. Each was included in the 2016 exhibition Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion.  
Dress, spring/summer 1983, Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel
In his first collection for Chanel in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld demonstrated his respect for the tradition of its founder, Coco Chanel (1883–1971), as well as his ability to bring new life and contemporary relevance to her work. This design from that first effort cites one of her favored looks, a black dress adorned with a mass of costume jewelry. Lagerfeld’s embroidered trompe l’oeil baubles, executed by the specialist House of Lesage, are a witty take on Chanel’s embrace of fake jewelry.
Hat, spring/summer 2000, Philip Treacy
With his superbly crafted and highly original designs, London- based milliner Philip Treacy has challenged conventional notions of what a hat should be. Keenly aware of historical precedent, he works with traditional millinery adornments, such as floral blooms, and transforms them into dramatic sculpture. This hat in the form of an orchid blossom captures the flower’s subtle translucence and curling outer petals, which are fashioned from printed and glazed silk crepe.
Ensemble, fall/winter 2014-15, Raf Simons for House of Dior
Raf Simons, as creative director at Dior, infused the house’s iconic designs with a modern aesthetic. The nipped-in waist and full hip of this ensemble echo the 1947 “New Look” silhouette advanced by the house’s founder. The cut of the coat and waistcoat, along with the elaborate multicolored embroidery, make direct reference to the lavish suits worn at the court of Louis XVI (1754–1793) and imitated throughout Europe, a nod to Paris’s enduring status as a fashion capital. The overt historicism is reconciled with a modern design vocabulary through the introduction of a contemporary slim- cut trouser and blouse.
Dress, fall/winter 2012, Iris van Herpen
Recognized for her inventive sourcing and manipulation of materials as well as for her interdisciplinary collaborations with artists, architects, scientists, and engineers, Iris van Herpen has provided an innovative model for fashion in the twenty-first century. This ensemble from her “Hybrid Holism” presentation was inspired by her frequent collaborator Philip Beesley’s responsive architectural installation Hylozoic Ground (2010). Van Herpen riffed on the theory of hylozoism—the notion that all matter contains life—to imagine a future in which garments have the potential to emulate nature and evolve in responsive ways. Although the shiny strips of PVC that form the flexible outer shell of this garment are entirely synthetic, they effortlessly echo the biomorphic shapes that characterize the rest of the collection.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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