Perhaps it was the macabre spirit of Halloween, or a need to break away sartorial classicism, but this year fashion is taking an unexpectedly unearthly direction. Eschewing the punk and pop of the past, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's fall costume exhibit is "Death Becomes Her", and the somber yet sophisticated display opens Tuesday, October 21. No, the museum isn't installing an exhibit of Tim Burton's design inspiration; "Death Becomes Her" is in fact a selection of mourning garb worn by royalty, political figures, and other lauded figures of decades past from 1815 to 1915.
Before you recoil at the thought of entering into an exhibit chock full of pitch-black garb, you may recall that ebony wasn't always the color of lamentation. In fact, sprinkled throughout the exhibit are gowns so dazzling with gold and purple embellishment that a modern celebrity might wear one to the Oscars. From constrictive and dark traditional widows weeds to simple black columns, the gowns and ensembles on display create an intricate sartorial timeline of mourning attire and therefore historical cultural attitudes towards the loss of life.
Queen Victoria, whose choice to sport dark attire following her husband's passing influenced generations, is a central presence in the exhibit, as are ensembles worn by Queen Alexandra and other luminaries of the time.
If you're looking for a more culturally stimulating way to spend your Halloween than enjoying a haunted hayride or indulging in sweet treats — and indeed, both are completely laudable pastimes — try popping over to the Met's exhibit. After all, black is always the new black.