The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City has announced the theme of the 2020 Met Gala and the accompanying Costume Institute exhibition: “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”
The exhibition — which will be part of the Met’s 150th anniversary celebrations — will trace the history of fashion from 1870 to the present, along what the museum calls a “disruptive timeline.”
Borrowing from philosopher Henri Bergson a concept called “la durée” — time that flows, accumulates, and is indivisible — the show will explore the connection between fashion and time through the lens of the writings of the late Virginia Woolf, which will act as a “ghost narrator.” The catalogue will include a new short story by Michael Cunningham, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, “The Hours,” which was inspired by Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway.”
The concept of time, therefore, will inform the sartorial choices of the fashion world’s biggest night of the year, the annual invite-only gala fundraiser that is traditionally held before the exhibition opens. The exhibition itself will run from May 7 to September 7, while the gala will be held the evening of May 4.
“This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” Max Hollein, director of the Met, said in a statement. “As such, the show will present a nuanced continuum of fashion over the Museum’s 150-year history.”
“Fashion is indelibly connected to time,” Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition, said in a statement. “It not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times, serving as an especially sensitive and accurate timepiece. Through a series of chronologies, the exhibition will use the concept of duration to analyze the temporal twists and turns of fashion history.”
Some 160 pieces will feature in the exhibition, and some will offer a connection between eras or generations. For example, a black silk faille princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995. Famed British stage designer Es Devlin is in charge of the show’s design.
The gala will be co-chaired by Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, and Anna Wintour.
Last year’s theme was camp, while the prior year’s was Catholicism.
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