Highlights of the Met’s America-Themed Fashion Exhibitions
The Costume Institute’s In America is a two-part fashion exhibition that explores both modern and historical fashion in the United States. The first part, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, was primarily the celebration of the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. The second part, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, is all about the complex journey of fashion in the United States, from its inception as a colony to its recent past, aptly set in the American Wing period rooms.
Like every year, the two parts were supported by the annual Met Gala. For the first part, the Gala took place last year, and for the second part, the Gala took place this year on the first Monday of May.
If you’re planning to visit the exhibitions, which are open till September 5th, 2022, here are some highlights you should know about:
The Period Rooms
The In America: An Anthology of Fashion exhibition is set in the period rooms of the American Wing, which in and of themselves are an exhibition, carefully curated to transport visitors to another era of American domestic life. But the interiors of these rooms aren’t merely an exhibition of home decor; rather they are a narrative of social, cultural, and political changes the country has seen.
The presentations in these rooms have been directed by eight directors, including Tom Ford, Radha Blank, Janicza Bravo, Sofia Coppola, Autumn de Wilde, Julie Dash, Regina King, Martin Scorsese, and Chloé Zhao. So there’s an undeniable cinematic quality to these rooms.
Tom Ford Directed Panorama Room
As if the Vanderlyn Panorama room wasn’t interesting before, during this year’s exhibition, it saw the magic of Tom Ford. The showcase “Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles” captures the battle between French and American designers, a fundraiser that took place in Versailles in 1973 to help restore Louis XIV’s palace.
It’s not to be missed as the mannequins have been set in such a way as if they are actually battling each other.
Virgil Abloh’s Gown
The late designer and visionary Virgil Abloh was working on a custom commission for the anthology part of the exhibition. However, due to logistical issues, it was taken out of the roster of garments to be displayed. Nevertheless, the refresh of the first part of the exhibition saw the gown enter the exhibition in all its glory.
It’s a white cotton-based gown with probably a million ruffles that serve as a commentary on the importance of cotton in American fashion history.
Right at the beginning of the exhibition lie some truly historical garments worn by some of the biggest political figures of America. You’ll witness a coat worn by George Washington and a Brooks Brothers jacket that Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated. Some of the missing pieces from that coat were given to mourners, so it’s not exactly how it was originally designed. Nevertheless, these garments are worth paying attention to.
Contemporary Native American Designers
The revived first part of the exhibition now features over ten pieces by Native American designers, evidencing more inclusivity in this year’s exhibitions. These designers include Jamie Okuma, Evan Ducharme, and Margaret Roach Wheeler.
Featured alongside big names like Halston, these contemporary designers’ work is no less than that of the greats in American fashion. Even though they were absent from the original presentation, the Costume Institue included these pieces just in time when the foot traffic increased, thanks to the opening of the second part of the exhibition.
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