We Celebrate Harold Koda As He Steps Down from His Post at The Costume Institute

                                                                                                             Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan

Harold Koda first arrived on the scene as a fashion intern at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the mid-1970’s, working under the late Richard Martin for four years. He was then asked to return in 2000 to reign over the Institute, where he quickly became known for many successful exhibits such as "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” in 2011, and “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” in 2012, just to name a few.

Now, after 15 years, Harold Koda will retire from his post as Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute on January 8th.

In a recent interview with Introspective magazine Koda fondly remembers one of his first projects at the Costume Institute – working on the sleeve of an 18th-century dress which didn’t match, and had always caught his eye as he walked past. “I was told to create the second sleeve but to do it with polyester taffeta, and I couldn’t dye it to the same tone.  It had to look close but different,” he recalls “So I’ve wanted to change it forever. Our new conservator has finally done it, and it’s perfect.  And it was done by machine!”

His career has seen many exciting peaks, such as dressing mannequins in “seraphim” dresses with Diana Vreeland on the 1976 exhibit “The Glory of the Russian Costume”, and how wanting to do a show based on the 1980’s led him to an exhibition on the style of Jacqueline de Ribes.  Koda sums up his career by telling Introspective “My whole career has been based on the idea that you can set up an object — put it up and have it tell its own story — or you can refine it to the point where people are interested in the story.”

Koda heads out on a high note, passing the torch of Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute to Andrew Bolton, who took the lead on “China: Through the Looking Glass”, which ended this past fall after seeing record breaking attendance at the Costume Institute.  When asked about his post-retirement plans he replied “I have the possibility of several projects, but most of them are unlikely to come to anything, because they relate to things I do here.  My position has always been that when I retire, I’m not going to do what I did here, because why would I do it anywhere else?” Why indeed!

We wish Harold Koda the best of luck in retirement!


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