Oh What a Beautiful Mourning – “Death Becomes Her” at the Met, Opening October 31

On the evening of October 31, a somber shadow shall fall over the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

For the first time in 15 years, the Costume Institute will be opening “Death Becomes Her,” an exhibition focusing soul-ely on 19th century dress, specifically mourning attire, displaying gowns, veils, jewelry, and the other historic trappings of bereavement.

The show’s opening night will feature dramatic readings from Edgar Allen Poe, an illusionist demonstration, drawing sessions, and a tour of the exhibition. Costumed attendees are welcome and encouraged to pose as live models for the drawing session.

I can’t think of anything more perfect than dressing up in mourning to go to an exhibition opening at the Met in NYC, and believe me, if I were not on the West Coast, I would be there in a flash (and furiously sewing to get an appropriately melancholy gown done just for this!). It literally pains me, just right there in my ribs, that I can’t go to this.

So if you are anywhere even remotely close to New York, go to the opening! Please!

For more information and to RSVP (costumed attendees), contact [email protected]
And now, to get into the spooky spirit of it all, some mourning gowns from The Met:
The Met, 1894-95 – hrm, wonder who this one belonged to…?
The Met, 1848
The Met, 1883 – detail showing the incredible jet beadwork, cut velvet, and buttons. Click through for a view of the whole gown.
The Met, 1867 – American. This is a great example of “widow’s weeds,” full mourning. It was not glamorous or shiny, but a dull, “dead,” crepe
The Met, 1895 – a great example of the mourning veil, and enormous crepe veil a lady would wear over her face (you can see another example at the top of this post)
The Met, 1850, American
There are many many pieces of mourning attire in the Met’s collection, which you can search on their excellent website, or even better – go to the “Death Becomes Her” exhibition and see these incredible, fascinating gowns for yourself.


  • Cassidy

    October 25, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    I'm so excited to go! I don't have the opportunity to attend many events. It's too bad you won't be there; I hope to have the opportunity to meet you someday even though we're on opposite sides of the continent.

  • Unknown

    October 31, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    I'm on my way to NYC now, hemming my dress… I'll be attending in my new silk taffeta mourning gown, this was a great add on to attending parent day at FIT tomorrow 🙂

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