The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met, for short) announced the theme of next year’s Costume Institute exhibit will be “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”
Inspired by Virginia Woolf and the 20th-century French philosopher Henri Bergson, the exhibit will look back at the timeline of women’s fashion from the last 150 years (dating from 1870 to today) to coincide with the Met‘s 150th anniversary. Woolf will serve as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibit.
Most of the 160 items in the show will be taken from the Costume Institute‘s extensive collection. By contrasting black and white outfits, the exhibition will move away from a traditional, chronological order that breaks fashion history down into a history of silhouettes.
The black outfits will follow a linear progression from 1870 – the year the Met was founded – to the present. Juxtaposed ensembles in white, made before or after the black pieces but sharing a motif, silhouette, material or technique, will offer a counterpoint and a connection. A section at the end of the exhibition will look forward to the future of fashion, examining issues around sustainability.
The Met Gala
For a more specific image, Sally Porter’s 1992 film Orlando, based on Virginia Woolf’s time-travelling novel of the same name, served as the main inspiration for the 2020 theme. Starring Tilda Swinton, the movie’s fashion spanned from 18th-century Marie Antoinette-inspired style to 19th-century dressing. In other words, prepare to see some grandiose, “let them eat cake”-worthy looks on next year’s Met Gala red carpet.
“Fashion is indelibly connected to time, it not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times,” Andrew Bolton, the curator of the Costume Institute, told the New York Times.
Given the range of a 150-year timeline of fashion, it may be one of the most abstract and eclectic Met Gala red carpets ever—with celebrities being able to time-travel back through several centuries of fashion. Or, of course, they technically could opt for something that’s “timeless.”
The co-chairs of the 2020 Met Gala are Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nicolas Ghesquiere of Louis Vuitton (the luxury brand will be a sponsor for the event). Most excitingly, it will mark the first-ever Met Gala attendance for Streep.
Last year the exhibition and Met Gala theme were based around the American writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp. The 2020 Met Gala will be held on May 4 at The Met and the exhibition will open to the public on May 7, 2020.