The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and Vogue know you've missed the Met Gala. But with an open, vaccinated world (hopefully) on the horizon, they're ready to bring back their annual fashion exhibition — and make up for lost time.
The Costume Institute's 2020 show, "About Time," did go on, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, though its opening was postponed to the fall and the accompanying party on the first Monday in May canceled. Typically the theme for the following year's exhibition is teased months ahead of time, but both the Museum and Vogue had been quiet about their plans for 2021 (and whether there would even be a gala) — until Monday, when they announced that the show would go on in a slightly different timeline.
This year's marquee fashion exhibition will center on American fashion, and will be sponsored by Instagram. It won't debut until later this year and it will actually be broken into two parts: The first, titled "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," will open on September 18, 2021, to close out New York Fashion Week — and yes, there will be a gala ("pending government guidelines," the Met noted, in a press release); the hosts have yet to be announced. The second, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion," will go up on May 5, 2022 and have its own opening fête. Visitors will be able to see the full show through September 5, 2022.
Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, told Vogue that the museum landed on this theme because "the American fashion community has been supporting us for 75 years, really since the beginning of the Costume Institute, so I wanted to acknowledge its support, and also to celebrate and reflect upon American fashion."
"I think that the emphasis on conscious creativity was really consolidated during the pandemic and the social justice movements," he continued. "And I've been really impressed by American designers' responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and I'm just finding their work very, very self-reflective. I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a Renaissance. I think young designers in particular are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers."
"In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" will be set up almost like a house within the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met, Bolton explained to Vogue, where each room reflects a specific feeling or emotion — "so for the porch, which is warmth, the idea would be to have perhaps Bonnie Cashin's blanket coat that we pair with André Walker's coat made from Hudson Bay blankets," he offered as an example — accompanied by a film by Melina Matsoukas that will run throughout the exhibit. Then, "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" will center on the history of American fashion in relation to larger societal and cultural issues and questions, staged through the museum's American Wing, with "a series of three-dimensional cinematic 'freeze frames' produced in collaboration with notable American film directors," according to a press release.