Everything’s coming up American fashion! The first Monday in May has always been known as “Met Gala Day,” when the most elite of the elite come out dressed to impress and preview the exquisite annual costume exhibit hosted by Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This year, the duo has announced that contrary to popular belief, American fashion is not dead, and have revealed that there are plans for not one, but two large interconnected Costume Institute shows—one opening in September to close out NYFW and the second in May 2022, according to The New York Times.
2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the Met’s Costume Institute, and Bolton wanted to curate a collection that would honor the surrounding community that has long supported it. According to Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, “the museum equivalent of working from home is working from your own collections. Approximately 80 percent of the clothes in the show will come from the Met’s holdings.”
Rather than trying to change the stereotypes that exist around American fashion, Bolton is trying the shift the narrative and widen the perceptions. In doing so, he hopes to quell the growing conversation about fashion, particularly American fashion, and its demise. The first show, “In America, A Lexicon of Fashion,” will draw from contemporary designers on a much larger scale than it has in the past. Like other years, the exhibition will be held in the Anna Wintour Costume Center which will be set up like a “house” with each room depicting a different emotion.
The exhibit will connect designers such as Claire McCardell and Collina Strada and their interpretations of “well-being,” and Patrick Kelly and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss and the meaning of “devotion,” reports the Times.
The second show (May 2022), “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” will be spread out across 21 of the museum’s American period rooms and focus on fashion spanning 300 years of personal and political narratives. Names like Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass are some of the more well-known names on the list, but others are a bit more abstract, like Fannie Criss, a turn-of-the-20th-century dressmaker and child of former slaves.
In an effort to shift away from the overwhelmingly white planning committee—and general whiteness of fashion—Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List, has been named one of the collaborators alongside Bradford Young (Selma, When They See Us) for the second show. And while the list of celebrity hosts has not yet been announced, there are a few rumors circulating that Amanda Gorman will play a role in the first Met Ball, but nothing has been confirmed.
As exciting as it is to have the Met Ball back in arms reach, there are still many steps—and months—to get through before the first show opens in September.
“We very consciously wanted this to be a celebration of the American fashion community, which suffered so much during the pandemic,” said Mr. Bolton, “...I think American fashion is undergoing a renaissance, with young American designers at the vanguard of discussions around diversity, inclusion, sustainability and conscious creativity. I find it incredibly exciting.”