The Met Gala Announces 2020 Theme: About Time: Fashion and Duration

The annual exhibition will challenge the way that we see fashion history

Taking place the first Monday of every May the Met Gala is the biggest night in Fashion. Designers, models, celebrities, muses, and icons all come together for the annual fundraising event.

Andrew Bolton the man behind the Met (Head Curator of the Costume Institute) is responsible for some of the most successful exhibitions in the museum’s history. 2017’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” attracted 1.6 million visitors in just five months. The 2011 Alexander McQueen retrospective, “Savage Beauty” was also hugely popular. Past exhibition themes have included China, Punk and last year’s hit, “Camp: Notes on Fashion.”

Camp was inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp and for next year’s event, the Met is again looking to the literary world. A”bout Time: Fashion and Duration” is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s time-traveling novel Orlando. The show is about “reimagining of fashion history that’s fragmented, discontinuous, and heterogeneous” said Bolton. Designers will be juxtapositioned against one another challenging the way that we think about fashion history. Showcasing a century-and-a-half of fashion the exhibition will question what’s timeless, what’s new and what can we recreate from the past. “This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” commented Max Hollein, director of the Met.

Bolton explained that the idea for the exhibition also came from Sally Potter’s 1992 movie adaptation of the book. “There’s a wonderful scene,” he says, “in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th-century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it her clothes change to mid-19th-century dress, and she re-emerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.” The show will be designed with Virginia Woolf acting as a “ghost narrator,” quotes from her books will appear throughout. “What I like about Woolf’s version of time is the idea of a continuum. There’s no beginning, middle, or end. It’s one big fat middle. I always felt the same about fashion. Fashion is the present.” The exhibition will feature key pieces from, Chanel, Alaïa‎, Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, and McQueen. Bolton is collaborating with artists and stage designer Es Devlin to create the space. “I’ve long admired her work and wanted to collaborate with her. She’s done several of what she calls mirror mazes and she often refers to the complexity of time with her design process.”

The 2020 Met Gala will be co-chaired by Nicolas Ghesquière, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Meryl Streep. The exhibition About Time: Fashion and Duration will run from May 7 to September 7, 2020.

Check out the 1992 trailer for Orlando below.

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