the 2020 met gala theme has just been announced
Keep an eye on your clocks: the first Monday in May is fast approaching.
Okay, picture this: it’s the first Monday in May 2020, in New York. Rihanna -- the last one on the carpet, naturally -- steps out of her car to the sound of fans shrieking. Her face is painted with the hands of a grandfather clock striking six o’clock. She’s standing, poker straight, in a couture wooden box with a swinging pendulum on the front, teetering down the carpet in a pair of clogs. The paparazzi go wild. It’s instantly iconic.
The above scenario is highly unlikely, mostly because Rihanna’s looks are impossible to predict, but do be prepared to witness at least some celebrities misreading the invite and turning up to the 2020 Met Gala in Cogsworth cosplay, because next year it’s all “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. And before you ask: no, this is not an elaborate homage to the Richard Curtis rom com starring Rachel McAdams.
Sound like an obscure theme? Well, in an interview with Vogue, the Met’s Chair of the Costume Institute Andrew Bolton referred to the exhibition as “a reimagining of fashion history that’s fragmented, discontinuous, and heterogeneous”. So, no - not obscure at all! They’ve enlisted Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep and Emma Stone to co-chair.
The key reference point, apparently, is Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation of Orlando, Virginia Woolf’s several century-spanning, gender-shattering novel. “There’s a wonderful scene in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th century woman’s robe à la Francaise,” Andrew told Vogue, “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.” Apparently she’s the show’s “ghost narrator” in the same way Susan Sontag’s work helped shape 2019’s Notes on Camp theme.
While the past few editions have seen designers interpret camp, punk and Chinese culture with interesting results, the 'About Time' theme asks attendees to consider fashion as something cyclical and ever-changing. The 2020 gala, along with the exhibition which it marks the launch, is trying trying to force us to think differently about the timeline of fashion. As Bolton told Vogue, he aims to change the way we “look back at [its] history with homogenous eyes”. In a statement, the Met’s director Max Hollein added that the exhibition “will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical”.
The best way to describe the exhibition, and thus the theme for the gala itself, is to imagine a throughline between 19th and 21st century designers: Madeleine Vionnet designs sat alongside a modern Margiela by Galliano piece. But how will the guestlist interpret it? Answers on a postcard, please: we’ve got less than five months until the whole affair kicks off.
Featured image courtesy of Sally Potter