Almost two years in the making, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibition China: Through the Looking Glass, opening on May 7, promises to be a feast for the senses; a high-impact multimedia exploration of the ways in which Chinese aesthetics have influenced western fashion throughout history. Over 140 haute couture and ready-to-wear creations by the likes of Cristóbal Balenciaga and Coco Chanel will be on show, as well as contemporary pieces by designers including Dries Van Noten, John Galliano and Giambattista Valli – expect to see 15th-century Ming vases juxtaposed with Roberto Cavalli evening gowns, or an emperor’s robe set beside a canary-yellow gown by Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent.
But the glamour also extends to the gift shop, where a collection of luxurious objects and accessories – bracelets, scarves, candles, clutches – has been specially created to celebrate the exhibition and is available in limited editions exclusive to the Met. Highlights include avant-garde Vertebrae cuffs (from $945, second picture) by Los Angeles jeweller Jennifer Fisher, sumptuous scarves by Mary Kantranzou ($595), Alexander McQueen ($595, third picture) and De Gournay Temple Newsam and Porden ($1,750, fourth picture) and pagoda minaudières by Judith Leiber ($6,795) – each of which channels a chic Asian aesthetic. Small but no less stylish are De Gournay’s scented porcelain butterfly candles ($275) and art-deco notelets by Cartier ($95).
Also worth looking up are Marc Alary’s Micro Monkey earrings ($1,845-$2,995, first and fifth picture) embellished with jade dragons and rich, red-lacquer fans and vases, a series of Dries Van Noten evening purses ($950-$1,000) accented with gold and silver birds, Irene Neuwirth’s sparkling aquamarine and fire-opal rings ($3,670-$4,050) and milliner Stephen Jones’ Openwork Floral headband ($195, sixth picture), which is a wonderfully playful piece.