NY exhibit "Models as Muse" looks at beauty ideals

Tue May 5, 2009 12:08am EDT
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The new "Models as Muse" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates some of the world's most beautiful women yet it shows how ideals of beauty have evolved to include the rest of women as well, its curator said on Monday.

Opening this week at the museum's Costume Institute, the exhibit traces high fashion and its models from post-World War Two haute couture to grunge and minimalism of the 1990s, with iconic photographs, magazine covers, advertisements, clothes, music and film clips to illustrate each distinctive era.

The show explores the power of clothing, fashion photography and models to project images of beauty over the years, its curators said at a preview for the media.

Its timeline begins in the golden age of sophisticated haute couture, which gave way to the youth-oriented 1960s, followed by the glamorous supermodel era that ended in grunge, the antithesis of glamour.

That last shift shattered earlier conceptions of beauty, leaving today's ideals more diverse and inclusive than ever before, said Kohle Yohannan, guest co-curator.

"In the end we're reassembling the pieces, like a post-modern jigsaw puzzle," he said, adding: "Women are more included in the visual culture today, all races, all ages.

"I think this show will encourage women to take a bow, each and every type that they are, each and every race, each and every size," he said.

Yohannan, an author and cultural historian, curated the show with Harold Koda, curator in charge of The Costume Institute.   Continued...

<p>(L-R) Actress Kate Hudson, designer Stella McCartney, actress Liv Tyler, and actress Kate Bosworth arrive for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, "The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion" in New York, May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>