China: Through the Looking Glass

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China: Through the Looking Glass at Metropolitan Museum of Art with fashion inspired by Chinese opera

China: Through the Looking Glass was a fashion and art exhibition held from May 7 through August 16, 2015, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art focusing on the impact of Chinese design on Western fashion over the centuries. It was curated by Andrew Bolton with support from Harold Koda). Nathan Crowley was responsible for production design.[1][2] [3][4]

Consisting of over 140 examples, each piece of this exhibit is said to embody "haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear alongside Chinese art."[5] Alongside the exhibition, China was portrayed in cinematic forms to reveal how perceptions of the country are shaped by pop culture. The exhibit was extremely popular in New York City and resulted in record attendance for the museum, drawing more visitors than that of the previous record holder among popular Costume Institute exhibitions, Savage Beauty.[6] Originally scheduled to run from 7 May to 16 August, it was extended through September 7 and stayed open through the night on its final weekend.[7]

The exhibition inverted Orientalism, choosing to focus on "the East as authentic".[3] The show "aims to readdress Edward Said's notion of Orientalism—a criticism of the West's depictions of the East as patronising and inauthentic."[8]

A documentary film about the exhibition, The First Monday in May, was released in 2016 and is available on Netflix outside of the US.[9][10][11]



  1. ^ "From Chanel to Valentino, a First Look at the Dresses in the Met's "China: Through the Looking Glass"". Vogue. 2015-04-23. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  2. ^ "China: Through the Looking Glass - the Metropolitan Museum of Art".
  3. ^ a b Givhan, Robin (5 May 2015). "The fantasy of China: Why the new Met exhibition is a big, beautiful lie". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  4. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (4 May 2015). "Met's China: Through the Looking Glass show presents a fantasy of the far east". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  5. ^ "China: Through the Looking Glass - the Metropolitan Museum of Art". Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  6. ^ "China: Through the Looking Glass show breaks Metropolitan museum record". The Guardian. Agence France. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  7. ^ Greenberger, Alex (27 August 2015). "Met To Remain Open Until Midnight for Final Weekend of 'China: Through the Looking Glass'". ArtNews. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  8. ^ Michalska, Julia (5 May 2015). "The Met launches China show, using a Western lens". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  9. ^ Murphy, Mekado (22 February 2016). "Tribeca Film Festival Opening With Look at Met's Costume Show". New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  10. ^ Cox, Gordon (22 February 2016). "Tribeca Film Festival to Open With Met Museum Documentary 'The First Monday in May'". Variety. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  11. ^ "The First Monday in May | Netflix". Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  12. ^ "China: Through the Looking Glass". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2015-12-20.
  13. ^ "China: Through the Looking Glass". The Metropolitan Museum of Art.