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100 Dresses: The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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An irresistible look into more than 300 years of fashion through an exquisite collection of designer dresses What woman can resist imagining herself in a beautiful designer dress? Here, for the first time ever, are 100 fabulous gowns from the permanent collection of the renowned Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of which is a reminder of the ways fa An irresistible look into more than 300 years of fashion through an exquisite collection of designer dresses What woman can resist imagining herself in a beautiful designer dress? Here, for the first time ever, are 100 fabulous gowns from the permanent collection of the renowned Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of which is a reminder of the ways fashion reflects the broader culture that created it. Featuring designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, Madame Grès, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and many others, this one-of-a-kind collection presents a stunning variety of garments. Ranging from the buttoned-up gowns of the late 17th century to the cutting-edge designs of the early 21st, the dresses reflect the sensibilities and excesses of each era while providing a vivid picture of how styles have changed—sometimes radically—over the years. A late 1600s wool dress with a surprising splash of silver thread; a large-bustled red satin dress from the 1800s; a short, shimmery 1920s dancing dress; a glamorous 1950s cocktail dress; and a 1960s minidress—each tells a story about its period and serves as a testament to the enduring ingenuity of the fashion designer’s art. Images of the dresses are accompanied by informative text and enhanced by close-up details as well as runway photos, fashion plates, works of art, and portraits of designers. A glossary of related terms is also included.


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An irresistible look into more than 300 years of fashion through an exquisite collection of designer dresses What woman can resist imagining herself in a beautiful designer dress? Here, for the first time ever, are 100 fabulous gowns from the permanent collection of the renowned Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of which is a reminder of the ways fa An irresistible look into more than 300 years of fashion through an exquisite collection of designer dresses What woman can resist imagining herself in a beautiful designer dress? Here, for the first time ever, are 100 fabulous gowns from the permanent collection of the renowned Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, each of which is a reminder of the ways fashion reflects the broader culture that created it. Featuring designs by Paul Poiret, Coco Chanel, Madame Grès, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and many others, this one-of-a-kind collection presents a stunning variety of garments. Ranging from the buttoned-up gowns of the late 17th century to the cutting-edge designs of the early 21st, the dresses reflect the sensibilities and excesses of each era while providing a vivid picture of how styles have changed—sometimes radically—over the years. A late 1600s wool dress with a surprising splash of silver thread; a large-bustled red satin dress from the 1800s; a short, shimmery 1920s dancing dress; a glamorous 1950s cocktail dress; and a 1960s minidress—each tells a story about its period and serves as a testament to the enduring ingenuity of the fashion designer’s art. Images of the dresses are accompanied by informative text and enhanced by close-up details as well as runway photos, fashion plates, works of art, and portraits of designers. A glossary of related terms is also included.

30 review for 100 Dresses: The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui N

    A collection of gorgeous dresses (for the most part) that represent the most beautiful and elegant of their time. I take exception to the handful of later dresses which I feel are more experimental and should not have been included in the collection (i.e., the airplane dress, the staircase dress -- good luck walking down the street in that -- Galliano's "Creation" dress of a work in progress and its pincushion bracelet, and a few obvious others). Another frustrating thing about this book is the A collection of gorgeous dresses (for the most part) that represent the most beautiful and elegant of their time. I take exception to the handful of later dresses which I feel are more experimental and should not have been included in the collection (i.e., the airplane dress, the staircase dress -- good luck walking down the street in that -- Galliano's "Creation" dress of a work in progress and its pincushion bracelet, and a few obvious others). Another frustrating thing about this book is the limited views of a lot of the dresses...often only showing a side or a back view. Sooo...what does the dress look like from the front??!! I would like to see a companion book to this one of 100 more dresses, but brought down a notch on the financial scale. Leave out the haute couture, and show mid-level fashion that your grandmother might have worn when she was younger, or your great aunt Gertrude who was a world traveler, etc...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angelica Garcia

    I really liked this book and how it showed the history about the dresses. This book grave me lots of cool designs for dresses that I can make. Most of the designers of the dresses were inspired from Greek history. I would recommend this book to future fashion designers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Havens

    Beautiful pictures of fashion pieces at The Costume Institute at the MOMA. I felt that the descriptions of why these particular pieces were chosen was informative and appropriate, although I could have done with 1-2 less Galliano pieces. Loved looking at all the fashion through the years!! (Late 17th century to 2010-ish)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    Interesting, quick read. The book features 100 dresses, each in a 2 page spread. One page is the photo of the dress. The other page contains a short description/background and sometimes a related photo or piece of art. The textiles span from the 1700s to the present. The designers appear to be (at a quick glance) English, British, French, Italian, and Japanese. Most of the dresses are evening/formal wear. There are some more casual dresses. It's a look at beautiful fabrics, incredible detailing, a Interesting, quick read. The book features 100 dresses, each in a 2 page spread. One page is the photo of the dress. The other page contains a short description/background and sometimes a related photo or piece of art. The textiles span from the 1700s to the present. The designers appear to be (at a quick glance) English, British, French, Italian, and Japanese. Most of the dresses are evening/formal wear. There are some more casual dresses. It's a look at beautiful fabrics, incredible detailing, and a shifting silhouette.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lovekitty

    I received this book for Christmas one year, and today, now and again I flip through the pages and admire. This book makes me want to go the Metropolitan more and more every time I open it up. I love the assortment, and the photographs. The only thing that I would have like to see was more from those particular eras, especially the 70's. Anyway, I enjoy this book; it's one of the things that fuels the fire that is my imagination. Marlas. I received this book for Christmas one year, and today, now and again I flip through the pages and admire. This book makes me want to go the Metropolitan more and more every time I open it up. I love the assortment, and the photographs. The only thing that I would have like to see was more from those particular eras, especially the 70's. Anyway, I enjoy this book; it's one of the things that fuels the fire that is my imagination. Marlas.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Benita

    Lovely book of dresses from The Costume Institute’s collection at The Met. As a fan of fashion and history, I really enjoyed reading about these amazing dresses. I only wish there was more than a couple paragraphs on each one, especially the early dresses. I could have used a bit more explanation on their history and time period. Also, while the photos are gorgeous, I would have liked better angles and full body shots of some that were not included in favor of more artistic angles. In any case, Lovely book of dresses from The Costume Institute’s collection at The Met. As a fan of fashion and history, I really enjoyed reading about these amazing dresses. I only wish there was more than a couple paragraphs on each one, especially the early dresses. I could have used a bit more explanation on their history and time period. Also, while the photos are gorgeous, I would have liked better angles and full body shots of some that were not included in favor of more artistic angles. In any case, I’m happy to have received this book as a gift and will enjoy flipping through it again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lídia

    Amazing exposition at the MET. The coverage from the XIX century until now in dresses from designers such as Christian Dior, Christian Delacroix, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Lauren and many more, makes this evolution of fashion and history worth being in a book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Book Buying With Katie

    Gorgeous dresses. Just stunning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Arlie

    Pieces of art. It was fun to look through some beautiful dresses spanning the last few centuries.

  10. 5 out of 5

    WORN Fashion Journal

    There is subliminal magic built into the fabric of a luxurious dress. It has a way of oozing romance, elegance, and the possibility of something extraordinary occurring on an otherwise simple evening. A dress can also speak its own language and, as 100 Dresses shows, the tongues are endless. A white lace gown, like the 1901 dress worn by Manhattan aristocrat Winifred Sprague Walker Prosser, brings to mind a traditional white wedding. In Winifred’s time however, the high-necked, mutton sleeved be There is subliminal magic built into the fabric of a luxurious dress. It has a way of oozing romance, elegance, and the possibility of something extraordinary occurring on an otherwise simple evening. A dress can also speak its own language and, as 100 Dresses shows, the tongues are endless. A white lace gown, like the 1901 dress worn by Manhattan aristocrat Winifred Sprague Walker Prosser, brings to mind a traditional white wedding. In Winifred’s time however, the high-necked, mutton sleeved beauty was nowhere near elaborate enough for such an occasion, and was instead worn as a simple day dress. 100 Dresses takes readers through the expansive permanent gown collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a collection generally seen by a privileged few. The pages are laden with covetable dresses ranging from a Mantua frock worn in the late 17th century, a time before design houses (as we know them today) existed, to a House of Dior creation from the Fall 2006 collection. The two-page prologue is written by the celebrated curator of the Costume Institute, Harold Koda. Koda takes readers through the history of the collection, which began as the Museum of Costume Art in the 1920s — its own entity separate from the Met. Originally used as a costume resource for the New York City Playhouse’s productions, the collection was a modest aggregation of historic and regional garments. By 1937, it had grown both in size and in curatorial importance, was pulled from theatres, and deemed worthy of preservation. In 1946 the Museum was began operating under the umbrella of the Met, and became its own department in 1959. It was then that the Museum of Costume Art began gathering its “Masterworks collection” of the world’s most rare and iconic frocks. Today the museum is home to over 35,000 costumes and accessories, but only a select few can be shown at any given time due to their quick deterioration. Koda explains the challenge of deciding which 100 dresses to include in the book: “Establishing a standard for inclusion of one beautiful or elegant dress over another presents, whatever its date or provenance, the same objectivity that operates whenever we judge others by what they are wearing.” In the end, he admits, the dresses seen in the book are simply the favorites of various museum staff members. As a result, this textbook-like paperback was born. Each dress has a two-page spread: one side dedicated to a photograph of the dress itself, and the other to short paragraphs detailing where the dress might have been worn, who first designed it, and how and where it was made. Often close-ups of the beading or lace are also pictured and in some cases, photos of women modeling the particular style (occasionally the original owner) are included as well. Two-page photo spreads are littered throughout the book, showcasing archival images of dresses from different eras. On page 66, five flappers walk through London in 1925, decked out in pleats, long strands of pearls, and dropped waists. Jump ahead to page 152 and you’ll find a Dennis Hopper photo of model Mary Leon Bing modeling a Rudi Gernreich ensemble from 1966. Although vastly different, every gown offers something unique and beautiful — I couldn’t seem to hold in my gasps and sighs with every turn of the page. Full of dreamy classics and modern marvels, the photographs in this collection turn these dresses into what they truly are: works of art (review by Alyssa Garisson)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Celine

    The book is made up of article-like descriptions for each dress. Some of the descriptions for the dresses are all over the place, usually using vocabulary that felt forced and over the top, almost snooty sounding. For example "While his creations are generally apolitical and ahistorical-the result of an intuitive, primarily visual synthesis...." I'm not saying they should dumb it down, but if they want to hold the readers attention, then they should adjust the writing style. I liked that the dre The book is made up of article-like descriptions for each dress. Some of the descriptions for the dresses are all over the place, usually using vocabulary that felt forced and over the top, almost snooty sounding. For example "While his creations are generally apolitical and ahistorical-the result of an intuitive, primarily visual synthesis...." I'm not saying they should dumb it down, but if they want to hold the readers attention, then they should adjust the writing style. I liked that the dresses were ones I hadn't seen before, but sometimes that made it almost boring because they wouldn't explain the history of it and that left me to think "Then what's the point of show casing this dress?" I would just use this as a coffee table book: meant to be skimmed through but not actually read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Di

    This book was incredable! It showed me several differant dress styles. Because of this book, I learned a great amount about the history of vintage clothing. The pictures are wonderful:you can see every unique detail on the dresses. Covering the history of the dresses, this books also gives the account of the designers as well.In short, I believe every historian should read this book because it gives more than what is expected. This book was incredable! It showed me several differant dress styles. Because of this book, I learned a great amount about the history of vintage clothing. The pictures are wonderful:you can see every unique detail on the dresses. Covering the history of the dresses, this books also gives the account of the designers as well.In short, I believe every historian should read this book because it gives more than what is expected.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula Mckinley

    I have a love for fashion since I first read Nina Garcia's books and thought nothing would ever inspire me the same way. That is until I read this book. At first I thought it would be a mic epicure book for me to look at. However it is so much more. Clothes, fashion and design are saturated with meaning that summons us back to the Hellenic periods, ancient India and China. Fashion is the way we, as humans, reshape and sculpt the body. Aesthetics, designs, what is beauty are all hung on the human I have a love for fashion since I first read Nina Garcia's books and thought nothing would ever inspire me the same way. That is until I read this book. At first I thought it would be a mic epicure book for me to look at. However it is so much more. Clothes, fashion and design are saturated with meaning that summons us back to the Hellenic periods, ancient India and China. Fashion is the way we, as humans, reshape and sculpt the body. Aesthetics, designs, what is beauty are all hung on the human canvas in a vernacular art. Pictures are stunning, words though few are thought provoking. This was one I checked out at the library and now am defiantly going to buy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    April Helms

    This was a Christmas gift from my li'l sis. I thought it was nice from the description, but it was even better than I imagined! A good way to start off the year. This includes a selection of 100 dresses from The Costume Institute, ranging from the late 17th century to 2006. Included is a description of each dress and why it is significant. It also goes into the designers (when they are known) of the garments. The photos are lovely and high quality, and the dresses range from elegant and extrava This was a Christmas gift from my li'l sis. I thought it was nice from the description, but it was even better than I imagined! A good way to start off the year. This includes a selection of 100 dresses from The Costume Institute, ranging from the late 17th century to 2006. Included is a description of each dress and why it is significant. It also goes into the designers (when they are known) of the garments. The photos are lovely and high quality, and the dresses range from elegant and extravagant to the bizarre. A really nice reference to add to my fashion history shelves. The glossary of terms in the back is a nice touch.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    This is a very cool book! My favorite of the 100 dresses by far was the Charles Frederick Worth dress from the turn of the last century. It's simply amazing as are a lot of the dresses I've seen from The House of Worth. There was also a quote that I really liked from Valentina, "Simplicity survives the changes of fashion...Fit the century, forget the year." 100 Dresses is a wonderful book and there is a perfect balance between captions/descriptions and photographs. I highly recommend it to anyon This is a very cool book! My favorite of the 100 dresses by far was the Charles Frederick Worth dress from the turn of the last century. It's simply amazing as are a lot of the dresses I've seen from The House of Worth. There was also a quote that I really liked from Valentina, "Simplicity survives the changes of fashion...Fit the century, forget the year." 100 Dresses is a wonderful book and there is a perfect balance between captions/descriptions and photographs. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves fashion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jan Polep

    Well, I could kick myself. I've been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art but missed seeing the dress collection represented in this great 2009 book. From the 17th century to 2006, each photo and one page description is glorious. Tidbits about the styles, stitching, designers, owners...all give a layer of history that helps you understand why each dress was chosen out of a collection of 35,000 costumes and accessories from 5 continents. It's historical fashion eye candy and would make a great book Well, I could kick myself. I've been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art but missed seeing the dress collection represented in this great 2009 book. From the 17th century to 2006, each photo and one page description is glorious. Tidbits about the styles, stitching, designers, owners...all give a layer of history that helps you understand why each dress was chosen out of a collection of 35,000 costumes and accessories from 5 continents. It's historical fashion eye candy and would make a great book discussion book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A beautiful collection of dresses displayed at their best, and short (but informative) texts on them. (Perhaps it would have been nice to have a somewhat wider selection of 20th century designers than was presented in the book - Christian Dior was important, of course, but 12 of the dresses of these 100 were made by him or House of Dior in this collection. It could have been nice to give some space to perhaps names slightly less well known just to give a bit more width to the collection here pre A beautiful collection of dresses displayed at their best, and short (but informative) texts on them. (Perhaps it would have been nice to have a somewhat wider selection of 20th century designers than was presented in the book - Christian Dior was important, of course, but 12 of the dresses of these 100 were made by him or House of Dior in this collection. It could have been nice to give some space to perhaps names slightly less well known just to give a bit more width to the collection here presented.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maria K.

    100 Dresses provided a bird's eye view of fashion development for the last two-three centuries. The dresses in question are creme de la creme of the Costume Institute's vast collection, the pieces that best represent their respective time periods and designers. In addition to striking designs, fabrics, and workmanship, one can trace some of the old-fashioned elements that survived through centuries of sartorial development and are still prominent in the work of today's designers. 100 Dresses provided a bird's eye view of fashion development for the last two-three centuries. The dresses in question are creme de la creme of the Costume Institute's vast collection, the pieces that best represent their respective time periods and designers. In addition to striking designs, fabrics, and workmanship, one can trace some of the old-fashioned elements that survived through centuries of sartorial development and are still prominent in the work of today's designers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I really didn't want this book to end; I loved looking at each new incredible ensemble as I turned the pages. The text could possibly be a bit more accessible to the average reader (although my late discovery of a glossary in the back would assist in this). I would have also loved to see more examples of dresses made prior to the 20th century, as the vast majority featured are not. Overall, though, I really enjoyed perusing this and learning a lot as I read along. I really didn't want this book to end; I loved looking at each new incredible ensemble as I turned the pages. The text could possibly be a bit more accessible to the average reader (although my late discovery of a glossary in the back would assist in this). I would have also loved to see more examples of dresses made prior to the 20th century, as the vast majority featured are not. Overall, though, I really enjoyed perusing this and learning a lot as I read along.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ita

    Good pictures on high quality paper, but... there was usually only one (1!!) picture of the dress! No front, back *and* side view! In a few instances there was a nice closeup of great embroidery. The text accompanying each dress was usually a little bit about the designer and a description of the unusual features of the dress. This is a nice book to peruse, but not particularly useful for costumers, IMO. I LOVE libraries because they allow me to check out books I might buy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    Amazing photographs, lovely gowns, mostly modern, but some of the pre-1920 dresses are gorgeous. The colours are beautiful, each gown very unique -- and the green gown from the 1700's made my jaw drop from the sheer intensity of it. This is one that clothing junkies will love, all presented by the current curator of the Costume Institute of the Met, Harold Koda. Amazing photographs, lovely gowns, mostly modern, but some of the pre-1920 dresses are gorgeous. The colours are beautiful, each gown very unique -- and the green gown from the 1700's made my jaw drop from the sheer intensity of it. This is one that clothing junkies will love, all presented by the current curator of the Costume Institute of the Met, Harold Koda.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jann

    This book is pictures and descriptions of 100 dresses at The Met Museum. I loved looking at the photos and reading about why the dresses are important to history and fashion. After reading, Laura, Ian, and I all chose our top 10 dresses. We also chose our ultimate favorite dress. I was surprised at how different our choices were and for what reasons.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erin Chute

    I loved this book!! Each page has a dress and a description of it. the book was set up in chronological order based on time period and style. I loved this book because I love dresses and old things. Like my family says, I was totally born in the wrong time period. I recommend this book to anyone who has a love for dresses and old things as much as I do!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    Oh how I love this book. I found it at Barnes and Noble and studied some of the images, and knew I simply had to purchase it. As the foreward by Koda states, these were 100 dresses chosen by the staff who picked their favorites from the vast collection at the Metropolitan Art Museum Costume Institute. This was a visual feast and banquet of exquisite materials, patterns and styles.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    Absolutely dreamy dresses that got me and my daughter through another cold winter's day... Absolutely dreamy dresses that got me and my daughter through another cold winter's day...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mirian

    For Mickey Sue...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caren Nelson

    Fabulous, gorgeous pictures of dresses through the decades. A must-read for fashionistas, costumers and anyone who loves beautiful design.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Legustafson

    I have always like the design aspect of fashion. These dresses embody the best of design in "fashion." Plus its a great way to get little girls to count to 100. I have always like the design aspect of fashion. These dresses embody the best of design in "fashion." Plus its a great way to get little girls to count to 100.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Can I say how much I love fashion books!? This one was so much fun, loved the pictures.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about period gowns. Was very interesting seeing the progression of these beautiful gowns.

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