Its latest exhibit, "blog.mode: addressing fashion," opens today, boasting 65 garments and accessories bound together only by their provocative designs — i.e., nary an LBD or pair of basic blue jeans in sight — accompanied by a "blog bar," a station of eight computer terminals where visitors are encouraged to post responses to the items on display. (Net surfers can also access the blog via the museum's Web site.)
For curator in charge Harold Koda and curator Andrew Bolton, an interactive exhibition has been a long time coming. Fashion-related Web sites like the Sartorialist have proven that these days everyone has an opinion on style and, for better or worse, feels compelled to share it. "Until the Eighties, it was macho for men not to form an opinion on women's wear, but now things have changed," Koda explains. "Men buy clothes for their girlfriends. That kind of indifference is no longer cool."
To inspire spirited reactions from the public, Koda filled the display with unique or iconic items like a Donna Karan jersey jumpsuit from the Eighties, a Yohji Yamamoto muslin wedding dress, an 18th-century velvet men's blazer and a 19th-century lace bonnet.
"Each of these pieces was selected because it raises a lot of questions," explains Koda of the motley collection.
And for all his hard work, the curator is not looking for paltry one-word responses. "We don't want, 'Oh, look at this — can you imagine that?' Ideally, we'd like at least three sentences." After the exhibit closes in April, the pair plans to publish the blog posts in a book, to be distributed by Yale University Press.
Indeed, it seems Koda has set himself up to be the first blogger. Asked his favorite item in the show, he hesitates before pointing out a pair of thigh-high fetishist stiletto boots from the Twenties. Do tell. "Blog.mode: addressing fashion," The Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute. Open through April 13.