Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire


This October, The Costume Institute’s first fall exhibition in seven years, Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, will be on display in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center. From October 21, 2014 through February 1, 2015, the exhibition will explore the aesthetic development and cultural implications of mourning attire in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The thematic display will be organized chronologically, featuring mourning fashions drawn primarily from The Costume Institute’s collection. Supplemented with historic photographs and daguerreotypes, the exhibit will display pieces of restrained simplicity alongside those of ostentatious ornamentation, revealing evolving mourning customs and societal standards.


Mourning Ensemble,1870-1872

Mourning Ensemble, 1870-1872. Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Karin Willis

Within the Anna Wintour Costume Center’s Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery, Death Becomes Her, will open with a collection of fashion plates, jewelry and accessories. The exhibit continues in the main Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery where the Museum will demonstrate the evolution of mourning wear through the progression of high-fashion silhouettes, proper fabrics, appropriate colors, and accepted etiquettes.

Approximately 30 ensembles, including mourning gowns worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra, will address the influence of high-fashion standards on the clothing attire of bereavement rituals as they evolved over a century.

The Museum’s website, http://metmuseum.org/deathbecomesher, will feature information on the exhibition and related programs.

Photo: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Related articles