Saturday, September 5, 2020


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#InPursuitOfFashion @MetMuseum

As a teenager visiting New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art with her future husband (Sherwin) in tow, Sandy Schreier declared that her collection would one day grace the halls of the museum. The vision of one of America's foremost collectors of fashion is realized in the Costume Institute's current exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection at the MET Fifth Avenue. Curated by Costume Institute Head Curator Andrew Bolton, Associate Curator Jessica Regan and Assistant Curator Mellissa Huber, the exhibit includes 80 of a total 165 pieces Schreier has promised to gift to the MET in honor of its 150th anniversary. Keep reading for a look inside...

Installation View: In Pursuit of Beauty: Origins of a Collection

While designers and artists are often celebrated, collectors are rarely given a dedicated exhibit. This tight edit of a truly exceptional assemblage of attire comes to fruition 7 years after initial discussions and many trips to Schreier's home in Detroit. To complement the exquisite (and some very rare) pieces, visual elements emphasize Schreier's love of movies and the artistic nature of the selections. Movie production designers Shane Valentino and Nathan Crowley (The Dark Night, The Prestige, The Lake House) encase the installation in stark white with an architectural Art Deco feel. Stephen Jones headpieces complete the "look" of each mannequin. 

Head adornments throughout the exhibit designed by Stephen Jones

Sandy Schreier starts her collection of roughly 15,000 pieces in the mid-twentieth century, before fashion was considered "art." As a child, she was introduced to fashion by her father, a furrier at Russeks Department Store in Detroit. Often accompanying him to work, she admired the wardrobes of her father's clients--most of whom were wives of Detroit's automotive moguls. Sensing a penchant for fashion, these women began sending gifts to a very young Schreier, thinking she could use their seldom or never-worn gowns for play. Schreier never wore these pieces, and instead began collecting them. 

Installation view: The Past Recaptured: Fortuny and Gallenga

Four sections chronicle the beginnings of Schreier's collecting and go on to feature gowns from the interwar era and cheeky conversation pieces. In Pursuit of Beauty: Origins of a Collection, tells of Schreier's childhood at Russeks and exposure to Hollywood films inspire and shape her perception of 'beauty.' The Past Recaptured: Fortuny and Gallenga illustrates how visits to the Detroit Institute of Arts cull Schreier's interest in fashion and later translates into her appreciation of fashion as an artform. Pieces by Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo and Maria Monaci Gallenga are among the first designers collected by Schreier. L'Esprit Nouveau: The Interwar Era showcases evening wear from the 1910s, 20s and 30s. Changes in culture (e.g, 19th Amendment, granting a women's right to vote) amount to an evolution of women's fashion--a reduction in layers, and shorter garment cuts and lengths. Women designers led the pack during this time and some of those pieces are included in the exhibit. Lastly, the "voice" of contemporary clothing as "narrative driven design" is apparent in The Message is the Medium: Fashion That Speaks; the clothing speaks volumes. Standout pieces include Karl Lagerfeld's dress on a hanger and eggs dress with big yellow "yolk" buttons.

Gilbert Adrian dresses

In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection will be on display at the Met Fifth Avenue's Costume Institute until September 20th. Timed tickets are required, click here to reserve a time to visit.
The "Swan Dress"

Installation view L'Esprit Nouveau: The Interwar Era

Boué Soers by unknown artists

Dresses from The Message is in the Medium: Fashion That Speaks

[L] Bes-Ben lobster hat by Benjamin Green-Field (c. 1946)  // [R] Swarm of Butterflies hat by Philip Treacy (Spring 2003)

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