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Alanna Martine Kilkeary / Her Campus

The Return of the Met Gala

The Met Gala is finally back! After taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been announced that the upcoming Met Gala will be held on September 13, 2021. It will be the first of a two-part exhibition focused on American fashion. On September 18, 2021, the Anna Wintour Costume Center will house “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Then, the gala will return to the first Monday in May in 2022 with “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” opening in the period rooms of the American Wing of the museum on May 5, 2022.

The Met Gala is to fashion as the Oscars is to film, the Grammys is to music and the Super Bowl is to football. It marks the openings of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not only is it an incredible party and red carpet event filled with the most fashionable stars in their most outrageous (on-theme) looks, but the Met Gala is also the benefit where the Costume Institute raises most of its funding. Each year, the dress code for the gala coincides with the theme for that year’s exhibit, which is picked by Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute. 

Bolton decided to do a two-part exhibition to honor the museum’s 150th anniversary, which was celebrated last year, as well as the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary, which takes place this year. While both of the themes chosen stem from the idea of American fashion, they each tell their own distinct story. 

“In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” focuses on how American designers, young designers especially, have been leading and responding to social change. They use their fashion to respond to the political climate of the time, focusing on diversity, body inclusivity, sustainability, gender fluidity and more. Young American designers utilize their designs to encourage conversation and tell stories. Additionally, to display the garments, the Anna Wintour Costume Center will be transformed into an imaginary house inspired by the Witold Rybczynski book Home: A Short History. Just as the book focuses on the qualities of rooms in a home rather than their functionality, each room in the exhibit will be divided into different rooms that each represent an emotion, with corresponding fashion, and be occupied by an ancestor.

Additionally, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” will turn toward the subject of inclusivity and the question of “Who gets to be American?” In the museum’s period rooms, the exhibit will examine the history of fashion in the context of race, gender, and materiality. While exploring these unfinished American stories, the exhibition will also take into consideration those who were able and those who were barred from inhabiting those spaces in history. To tie it all together, “freeze-frame” vignettes made by noted American directors will be on view in the rooms.

Coupled, the “In America” exhibitions will present a chance for celebrities, fashion lovers, museum-goers and Americans in general to explore the intersectionality between fashion and identity, and it will be exciting to see the conversations that arise as a result.

Gabi Kurzer

Northwestern '24

Gabi is a freshman from Miami, FL studying journalism at Northwestern University. She is an amateur fashion designer who loves to design and sew her own clothes. In her free time, Gabi enjoys traveling, watching Netflix, and spending time with her family and friends.
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