Just a month ago, there were still no concrete plans as to whether or not there’d even be a Met Gala in 2021—even though it’s the 75th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. But today, the Met announced their plans for not only the 2021 edition but the 2022 event as well. The first will be particularly star-studded: Hosts include Timothée Chalamet and Billie Eilish.
For the first time ever, the two exhibits will be interlinked with a unifying theme. Whereas the past two year’s themes, “About Time” and “Camp,” were more open to interpretation, these are more straightforward: “American Fashion.” The first exhibit will be entitled, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which will have a contemporary focus and reflect the recent social change in the country. The second exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” will go all the way back to 1670. But enough about the exhibitions—it’s always about the gala, and in this case, the return of the red carpet. Stay up to date on everything we know so far, here.
Why double up?
“We very consciously wanted this to be a celebration of the American fashion community, which suffered so much during the pandemic,” Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, told the New York Times. Though, the event is also a major source of fundraising for the Costume Institute. It missed out on its chance to raise roughly $15 million last year, and did not want to completely sit out 2021 either. In any case, who doesn’t want to party after more than a year cooped up indoors?
What’s the difference between the two?
The first, which takes place on September 13 to coincide with New York Fashion Week, will apparently be “more intimate.” The accompanying exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, will get deep, exploring 20th- and 21st-century fashion’s ties to equity, diversity, and inclusion. It’ll also include two centerpieces: a mini American home with transparent walls, and a projection of a film by Beyoncé favorite Melina Matsoukas.
The second gala, which isn’t until 2022, marks a return to the traditional first Monday in May. Its accompanying exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” spans from 1670 to 1915, in the museum’s American Wing. Period rooms like a 19th-century parlor will play host to pieces by designers like previous Met Gala honoree Charles James. (There’ll also be a look back at the legendary face-off between French and American designers known as the Battle of Versailles.) An array of American film directors will take charge of the displays. Bolton has so far chosen Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, and Bradford Young, the cinematographer behind Selma, partly out of recognition that all of the Costume Institute’s curators are white.
Last year’s were supposed to be Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nicolas Ghesquière, and this year’s are equally star-studded, albeit much younger. None other than Timothée Chalamet and Billie Eilish, plus inaugural youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman and the Women’s Tennis Association’s no. 1 star Naomi Osaka. (The latter recently broke into fashion with a Louis Vuitton campaign and a swimsuit collab with Frankies Bikinis.) It’ll be all four’s first time appearing on the Met Gala red carpet. Rounding out the headliners are honorary chairs Tom Ford, Anna Wintour, and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri.
Who will attend?
Anna Wintour will no doubt invite her most loyal devotees (and most generous donors), particularly for the more intimate gala in September. It’s unclear just how much they’ll whittle down the guest list, which in past years has surpassed 500. It could be a first for Streep, as well as an unlikely celebrity: Mark Zuckerberg. (As the Times points out, Instagram is one of the show’s main sponsors.)
What will they wear?
There will be an emphasis on American designers, of course. Perhaps Wintour herself will likely take a break from her usual Chanel. (And perhaps replace with a typically staid option like Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera.) Much of fashion Twitter is already calling for attendees to wear Black designers, from the influential Willi Smith to contemporary favorites like Christopher John Rogers and Telfar Clemens. Though don’t expect the European houses, who are often major financial supporters, to completely sit out the event either—particularly Prada, given Chalamet’s involvement.
What about the pandemic?
The Costume Institute seems to have learned from experience. Bolton cautioned the closest date, September 13, is “pending government guidelines.” Presumably, the same will go for the IRL fashion shows the CFDA plans for the week prior.
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