Fashion

The Met Gala Will Return in September with a 2-Part Exhibition Focused on American Fashion

The Met Gala is returning in 2021, but it won't be on the first Monday in May.

After the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue's annual fashion event was indefinitely postponed — and ultimately canceled — in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art confirmed the gala will be back — in two parts.

The museum's next exhibition will include a series of events celebrating American fashion. Part one, titled In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, will debut on September 18, 2021 and run through September 5, 2022 to "celebrate The Costume Institute's 75th anniversary and explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion," the release states.

Part two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, will open on May 5, 2022 and "will explore the development of American fashion by presenting narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of those spaces." It will also close on September 5, 2022.

To kick off the part one opening, "a more intimate" Met Gala is set to take place on the second Monday in September (Sept. 13, 2021) "pending government guidelines." While the 2022 Met Gala celebrating part two will adhere to the First Monday in May timing, set to take place on May 2, 2022.

In late March 2020 it was announced by Vogue that the Costume Institute's 2020 exhibition, "About Time: Fashion and Duration," which normally opens in May, would be postponed until late October and run until early February 2021. The star-studded ball which kicks off the exhibit each year was canceled.

Last May, there was still no rescheduled date for the 2020 Met Gala. "The timing of the 2020 Met Gala is still under discussion," Nancy Chilton, the chief external relations officer of the Costume Institute said in a statement to The Cut. "As we have shared, the Museum will remain closed to the public and staff until July 1, based on what we are hearing from the CDC and city, state, and federal leaders."

However, as the pandemic still remained widespread by the end of 2020, the annual fashion event was never rescheduled. The 2020 Met Gala was set to be co-hosted by Louis Vuitton artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, Vogue's Anna Wintour, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone and Meryl Streep and center around the theme, "About Time: Fashion and Duration."

For the two new exhibits, part one will be held in The Costume Institute's Anna Wintour Costume Center and will focus on 20th- and 21st-century fashion. "Designs by pioneers of American sportswear will be displayed alongside works by a diverse group of contemporary designers to illustrate a shifting emphasis in American fashion defined by feelings of fear, delight, comfort, anxiety, well-being, loneliness, happiness, belonging, self-reflection, and self-representation among other qualities," the release states.

Part two will be housed in the American Wing of the museum and will feature "women's and men's historical and contemporary dress dating from the 18th century to the present."

"Over the past year, because of the pandemic, the connections to our homes have become more emotional, as have those to our clothes. For American fashion, this has meant an increased emphasis on sentiment over practicality," Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, said in a statement. "Responding to this shift, Part One of the exhibition will establish a modern vocabulary of American fashion based on the expressive qualities of clothing as well as deeper associations with issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Part Two will further investigate the evolving language of American fashion through a series of collaborations with American film directors who will visualize the unfinished stories inherent in The Met's period rooms."

The exhibitions will also celebrate the strides American fashion has made and the response designers have shown amid social and political movements.

"I think that the emphasis on conscious creativity was really consolidated during the pandemic and the social justice movements," Bolton told Vogue. "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."

The first Met Gala was held in 1948 as a benefit dinner, and was not pegged to a particular exhibition. From 1948 to 1971, it was held offsite at the Waldorf Astoria or the Rainbow Room, according to CNN. It was canceled in 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and again in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks.

Today the Met Gala is the Costume Institute's primary source of annual funding for "exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations and capital improvements."

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