The Met Unveils Highly Anticipated “Sleeping Beauties” Exhibition

Heralded by the Met Gala, the Costume Institute Unveils Its Retrospective of Exquisitely Delicate, Rarely Seen Fashion Treasures

The Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled today the Costume Institute’s spring 2024 exhibition
Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion. Running from May 10 to September 2, 2024, the exhibition features 220 garments and accessories that are brought to life through primary research, conservation analysis, and diverse technologies. These masterworks span four centuries and are visually connected by themes of nature, symbolizing the cyclicality and ephemerality of fashion.

The exhibition aims to engage visitors’ sensory perceptions through various encounters, from
artificial intelligence and computer-generated imagery to traditional formats like x-rays, video
animation, light projection, and soundscapes. A series of “sleeping beauties” – extremely fragile
garments that can no longer be dressed on mannequins – will be displayed in glass cases,
allowing visitors to analyze their states of deterioration.

Organized into three sections focused on earth, air, and water, the galleries present individual
case studies exploring different themes inspired by nature. These immersive environments
juxtapose historical fashions with contemporary counterparts to engage visitors’ senses of sight,
smell, touch, and hearing.

Designers featured in the exhibition include Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hattie Carnegie, Lilly Daché,
Hubert de Givenchy, Deirdre Hawken, Stephen Jones, Guy Laroche, Madame Pauline,
Mainbocher, Elsa Schiaparelli, Sally Victor, and others. The galleries also feature a coat by
Jonathan Anderson for Loewe, planted with oat, rye, and wheat grass that will gradually die
during the exhibition.

Notable exhibits include a “hobble skirt” by Jeanne Hallée from 1913–14, brought to life using
the Pepper’s ghost illusion technique, and two examples of Charles James’s “Butterfly” ball
gown, one in pristine condition and the other extensively damaged, showcasing rare duplicates
in the collection.

Visitors are invited to explore and engage with the sensory qualities of the exhibits, including
feeling the form and floral decoration of the “Mini Miss Dior” dress through an enhanced 3-D
printed maquette and experiencing the rich embroidery of a 1615–20 waistcoat through
interactive embossed wallpaper.

Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, Anna Wintour, and Zendaya will co-chair The
Costume Institute Benefit – better known as The Met Gala – on the evening of May 6. The gala
serves as the primary source of annual funding for the department’s exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements. The dress code for the evening is “The
Garden of Time,” with Shou Chew, Chief Executive Officer of TikTok, and Jonathan Anderson,
Creative Director of Loewe, serving as honorary chairs.

After the event, the decorative centerpiece showcased in the Museum’s Great Hall will be open
to the public until Tuesday, May 7.