Surreal, David Bailey, 1980. Photo by David Bailey. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About Time: Fashion and Duration
On view: May 7th – September 7th, 2020
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave. New York, NY

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the theme for their Costume Institute exhibition coming in 2020, called About Time: Fashion and Duration. A century and a half of fashion history will be on view, coinciding with the amount of time The Met has been open. The timeline of the display will be disruptive as a way of giving homage to philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée, meaning time that is indivisible and constantly accumulating. Time and fashion are deeply connected, as it’s nearly impossible to examine the influence of a trend or describe the importance of a certain style without also examining the period of time in which the style exists. From the corsets of the late 19th century to long A-line dresses of the ’40s, to miniskirts, this exhibit will allow viewers to learn more about the history of fashion through the lens of the concept of duration. Unlike many books, documentaries, exhibits, and photograph collections, this exhibition moves away from the tendency to narrow fashion down to decade-defining silhouettes, and instead focuses on how clothes from different decades relate to each other through shape, material, or pattern.

Max Hollein, Director of The Met, claimed “This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical. As such, the show will present a nuanced continuum of fashion over the Museum’s 150-year history.” 160 examples of women’s fashion will be included starting from 1870, the beginning of the decade in which a standardized time system was developed. Fashion is constantly changing, but those who visit the museum might be surprised to see how many similarities are present in the trends that supposedly defined different eras. The goal is to show fashion and time as seamlessly connected, and open up conversations of longevity and sustainability.

The exhibition will open on May 4th of next year with the Costume Institute Benefit, more commonly known as the Met Gala. This is an opening night party and fundraiser for the annual fashion exhibit curated by the Costume Institute and the museum’s fashion department. Both the Gala and the exhibit are usually major highlights of the year for the Met, as they consistently draw large crowds and bring in an impressive amount of revenue. If you don’t have $30,000 to spend on a ticket and an invitation from Anna Wintour herself for the Gala, your best bet is to see the exhibit before it ends next September. Get tickets on their website.


Where Art, Fashion & Culture Collide

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