Miami Beach's Bass Museum mounts "Vanitas: Fashion and Art" exhibit

A mash-up of haute couture and avant-garde art is going on at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach.

The exhibit “Vanitas: Fashion and Art” takes on the ephemeral aspects of life and includes contemporary artists’ works alongside pieces by designers Isaac Mizrahi, Manolo Blahnik, Elsa Schiaparelli, Yohji Yamamoto and Iris van Herpen.

“Vanitas [refers] to still lifes of the 16th and 17th centuries in Holland,” explains Silvia Karman Cubina, Bass’ executive director and chief curator. “And it’s a Latin word that sort of translates into something about the meaninglessness of earthy life and the transcendence of everything that is of the earth.”

So the Bass Museum commissioned Harold Koda of New York’s Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to interpret that theme. Koda subdivided the installation according to allegorical imagery often found in vanitas works: skulls, butterflies and poppies.


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“I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but there’s a dress made out of butterflies,” Cubina says. “That’s all I will give you.”

“Vanitas: Fashion and Art” will run through July 20 at the Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Ave., in Miami Beach. Museum hours are noon-5 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and noon-9 p.m. Fridays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students. Call 305-673-7530 or go to BassMuseum.org.