American fashion will be the theme of the Costume Institute’s highly anticipated two-part Met Gala, the first of which will take place this September following last year’s cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Met Gala has become the fashion Oscars, and is traditionally hosted by a well-dressed public figure. Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old inaugural poet who recited her poem at Joe Biden’s inauguration, is rumoured to be this year’s co-host alongside Met Gala chairwoman and Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and the US designer Tom Ford.
Gorman became a fashion fixture when she wore a sunshine yellow Prada hairband and coat to the inauguration. She appeared on the May cover of US Vogue wearing Louis Vuitton and Dior. The Costume Institute did not deny the rumours, but said they “had not yet announced gala co-chairs”.
The Institute’s blockbuster fashion exhibition, which opens at the end of New York Fashion week, is also the opening night of the annual exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This year’s event is called In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, and will open on 18 September. The second part is called In America: An Anthology of Fashion, and will open – as is tradition – on the first Monday of May in 2022.
The theme will celebrate American designers, as well as political, cultural and social events from the past year. “I think that the emphasis on conscious creativity was really consolidated during the pandemic and the social justice movements,” Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, told Vogue.
Inspired by the Canadian writer Witold Rybczynski’s Home: A Short History of an Idea, an extended essay which looks at the evolution of domestic living, comfort and culture, Bolton will transform the Anna Wintour Costume Center into an imaginary house. The corresponding pieces will vary from Bonnie Cashin blanket coats and tracksuits from sportswear pioneer, Claire McCardell, to Taylor Swift’s floral Oscar de le Renta gown and athleisure from the socially-conscious label Collina Strada.
Pending pandemic guidelines, the celebrity-studded red carpet benefit – which generates the majority of the Costume Institute’s funding – will be smaller but starry nonetheless. Outfits by designers such as Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, a Black designer who has used the catwalk to address the erasure of African American narratives in popular culture, will likely appear alongside those of Prabal Gurung, whose 2020 show “Who gets to be American?” addressed social inclusivity. Other designers whose work will appear on the benefit red carpet as well as the exhibition include Virgil Abloh, Ralph Lauren and 70s label Halston.
The last time the Met Gala addressed solely US designers was in 1998’s American Ingenuity, a decade dominated by labels such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. It’s thought this year’s theme is an attempt to show a more diverse and varied landscape.
“I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a renaissance,” said Bolton. “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.”