Met Museum celebrates China with annual gala

Updated: 2015-05-05 08:59

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

Met Museum celebrates China with annual gala

Actress Gong Li arrives for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 2015 celebrating the opening of China: Through the Looking Glass, in Manhattan, New York May 4, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

The worlds of Hollywood, fashion, and China converged to celebrate China's influence on Western fashion designers last night at the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, which featured both Chinese and American A-listers for one of the biggest nights in fashion.

The benefit - better known as the Met Gala or Met Ball - was held to celebrate the opening of the Met's latest exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass. American stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Rihanna were in attendance, as well as Chinese actress Gong Li and others.

The gala was hosted by Hong Kong apparel tycoon Silas Chou, and co-chaired by Jennifer Lawrence, Gong Li, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, businesswoman and socialite Wendi Murdoch and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

The exclusive gala was by invitation only and cost $25,000 a ticket.

The China-themed exhibition will be open to the public from May 7 through Aug 16. It will be presented throughout the Met's Chinese galleries, as well as in the Anna Wintour Costume Center.

"The exhibition's point of departure was the fashion created in the West in response to the changing notions of the East, beginning in the 18th century and coming down to the present," said Maxwell Hearn, chairman of the museum's department of Asian art.

"In telling this story, the curatorial challenge has been to work back from these objects to discover the sources of that inspiration: what did the designers see? What did they respond to?" he said.

Acclaimed Chinese director Wong Kar-wai served as artistic director of the exhibit, editing Chinese movie clips that inspired designers and coming up with a soundtrack for the exhibition.

"We hope through this exhibit that American audiences can better understand Chinese culture," Wong said in remarks on Monday during a press preview of the exhibition.

"Putting together this show has been a truly remarkable journey for myself and everyone involved," he added.

Work by Vivienne Tam, a New York-based Chinese-American fashion designer, was featured in the exhibit. Tam said that she was "honored" for her work to be on display in the museum. "Together with all those other amazing international designers, I'm glad to have my work featured alongside theirs," she told China Daily.

The exhibition was co-sponsored by Yahoo. The Met declined to reveal the amount of Yahoo's contribution, but it has cost about $1 million in the past, according to the New York Times. Yahoo CEO Mayer said during the press preview that her company "couldn't be more thrilled to be sponsoring this iconic exhibition and event, and amplifying the efforts of the talented artists."

Chinese donors also helped sponsor the exhibition, though the Met declined to name them. Fosun Group, China's biggest privately-held conglomerate, was a sponsor of the gala and the exhibition, the company announced, though a spokesperson for the company declined to disclose how much money the company contributed.

"This exhibit is about Chinese culture," said Patrick Zhong, senior managing director of Fosun Group.

"The Metropolitan Museum is a shrine for American culture, so to be able to tell China's story here - how the world sees China through the lens of its culture - is particularly meaningful, I feel, so Fosun has to support an undertaking like this."

"This is bringing Chinese culture to an international audience because China is part of the world," he added. "This is really important, so Fosun contributed money to the exhibition."

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