The Met Gala is undoubtedly the most extravagant affair in the fashion calendar. The themed event enables the invitees to communicate a concept through a curated outfit whilst attending a rather clandestine dinner and exhibition. The theme for 2020 – About time: Fashion and Duration.
Andrew Bolton, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute curator, found inspiration for this exhibition from the 1992 Sally Potter film entitled Orlando, which was based on a Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. He tells Vogue “there’s a wonderful scene in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th-century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it, her clothes change to mid-19th-century dress, and she reemerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.” Additionally, Bolton was largely influenced by the French philosopher Henri Bergson and his la durée – time that flows, accumulates and is indivisible. “What I like about Woolf’s version of time is the idea of a continuum,” Bolton says. “There’s no beginning, middle, or end. It’s one big fat middle. I always felt the same about fashion. Fashion is the present.”1
Indeed, the concept of déjà vu is one very familiar to the fashion world as trends are constantly being recycled and reimagined into new eras. But this theme goes beyond the return of low-rise jeans and invites a wealth of periods to be explored, going as far back as the 18th century. Met Gala invitees are often criticised for not embracing the theme or doing so in a half-hearted manner. This event never fails to separate the imaginative risk takers from those who like to play it safe. The theme for this year is particularly exciting as it accommodates both parties. Those wanting to play it safe could channel familiar eras such as the 90s, whereas those willing to take it a step further could find themselves in 18th century exaggerated skirts and tailcoats, or perhaps even combining different periods.
So, what are we expecting to see on the carpet this year? First of all, Rihanna. But in terms of the outfits, a lot of vintage luxury brands, such as Chanel and Versace. Perhaps a homage to Virginia Woolf, the inspiration for the exhibition. And inevitably an array of the development of fashion over time.