The theme for the next blockbuster Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute exhibition has been revealed. After honoring Alexander McQueen in a posthumous exhibition, comparing the works of Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli, looking to Chinese fashion, and taking over various institutions in New York for a examination for Catholic costume, the Met says that it will take on … time.
As first reported by the New York Times on Thursday, next year’s big exhibition, which will debut in May, as heralded by the annual Met Gala – which raises some $15 million in a single night to fund the fashion and costume-specific department of the Met – will be entitled, “About Time: Fashion and Duration.” According to the Times’ Vanessa Friedman, this year’s theme is “inspired in part by the novels of Virginia Woolf and the theories of the early-20th-century French philosopher Henri Bergson, whose admittedly somewhat obscure but also important musings on time posited it as a constantly mutating stream rather than a series of discrete moments.”
“Fashion is indelibly connected to time,” Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, told the Times. “It not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times.” The show – one that Friedman says “may be the most conceptually abstract blockbuster the Costume Institute has attempted, toggling between what Mr. Bolton calls the ‘objective’ time of the calendar and the ‘subjective’ time of creativity – will take the form of 160 pieces of women’s fashion created over the past 150 years.
So far, Bolton has given some ideas as to what attendees can except come next spring, saying that he wanted to “address minimalism in the 1990s and thought Jil Sander would be perfect,” and will work with British designer Georgina Godley to create a new piece inspired by her influential “Lumps and Bumps” collection. Bolton also referenced works of “John Galliano from his Dior days” and “iconic pieces of Helmut Lang.” Given that Louis Vuitton is underwriting the exhibition, it is safe to assume that garments and accessories from the brand will be given prime placement.
The Times notes that the show, itself, will be designed by Es Devlin, who was responsible for the sets for Beyoncé’s “Formation” tour, as well as many Royal Opera House productions.
In recent years, the annual Costume Institute show has routinely broken the famed New York museum’s attendance records, in many cases, prompting the museum to extend the closing dates. The museum revealed that for 2018, it saw an increase over the 7 million it reported for 2017. Burgeoning attendance was due, in large part, the museum stated, “to the record-breaking attendance for the Costume Institute Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, which attracted 1,659,647 visitors.
The number of visitors that hurried up the steps of the Met to take in the Heavenly Bodies show, which was on show from May 10 to October 8, put an end to the long reign of the museum’s sweeping 1978 King Tutankhamun-focused “Treasures of Tutankhamun” exhibit, one that had held the title of most-visited.