As the Met Gala sets its return to the first Monday in May, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced plans for the 2022 spring exhibition themed “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.”
The Met curators, led by Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute, have enlisted eight film directors —- Janicza Bravo, Sofia Coppola, Julie Dash, Tom Ford, Regina King, Martin Scorsese, Autumn de Wilde and Chloé Zhao — to help bring the exhibition to life.
“Anthology” is the second of a two-part presentation saluting designers and dressmakers who worked in the United States from the 19th to the mid-late 20th century. It follows Part One, titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which opened in September 2021.
“Part Two, which explores the foundations of American fashion in relation to the complex histories of the American Wing period rooms, serves as a preface to the concise dictionary of American fashion presented in Part One,” Bolton stated in a release announcing the project.
Presented in collaboration with The Met’s American Wing, this second installation will feature approximately 100 examples of men’s and women’s dress within the American Wing’s historical interiors.
Each director will design cinematic vignettes, or “freeze frames,” to accompany each period room’s theme. Bravo will create work for the Rococo Revival Parlor and Gothic Revival Library; Coppola in the McKim, Mead and White Stair Hall and Worsham-Rockefeller Dressing Room; Dash in the Greek Revival Parlor and Renaissance Revival Room; Ford in the gallery showcasing John Vanderlyn’s panoramic 1819 mural of Versailles that will reportedly touch on fashion’s own Battle of Versailles; King will design the vignette in the 19th-century parlor from Richmond, Va.; Scorsese in a 20th-century living room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; de Wilde in the Baltimore and Benkard Rooms; and Zhao in a Shaker Retiring Room from the 1830s.
“Whereas ‘Lexicon’ explores a new language of American fashion, ‘Anthology’ uncovers unfamiliar sartorial narratives filtered through the imaginations of some of America’s most visionary film directors,” Bolton explained. “It is through these largely hidden stories that a nuanced picture of American fashion comes into focus — one in which the sum of its parts are as significant as the whole.”
Dash previewed her vignette for “Vogue,” which announced the details of the installation.
“Creating cinematic displays inside the Greek Revival Parlor and the Renaissance Revival Room for the exhibition is a challenge and an excellent opportunity to work with Andrew Bolton and the Met curators as we dive headfirst down into strange and wonderfully intimate conversations with the fashion icons Mdm. Eta Hentz and Ann Lowe,” Dash said.
Parts one and two will be open concurrently. “Lexicon” is currently on display in the Anna Wintour Costume Center and celebrates The Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary; “Anthology” will open on May 7 with the full exhibition to close on Sept. 5, 2022.
Designers whose work will be featured in “Anthology” include: Bill Blass, Marguery Bolhagen, Brooks Brothers, Stephen Burrows, Fannie Criss Payne, Josephine H. Egan, Franziska Noll Gross, Halston, Elizabeth Hawes, Eta Hentz, L.P. Hollander & Co, Charles James, Anne Klein, Ann Lowe, Claire McCardell, Lucie Monnay, Lloyd “Kiva” New, Norman Norell, Madame Olympe, Oscar de la Renta, Nettie Rosenstein, Herman Rossberg and Jessie Franklin Turner.
“’In America: An Anthology of Fashion’ traces the emergence of a distinct American style, revealing underlying stories that often go unrecognized,” stated Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “As a whole, this ambitious two-part exhibition ignites timely conversations about the tremendous cultural contributions of designers working in the United States and the very definition of an American aesthetic.”
Part Two is organized by Bolton; Jessica Regan, associate curator of the Costume Institute; and Amelia Peck, the Marica F. Vilcek curator of American Decorative Arts and supervising curator of the Ratti Textile Center, with the support of Sylvia Yount, the Lawrence A. Fleischman curator in charge of the American Wing.
Stated Yount: “The American Wing is excited to collaborate with The Costume Institute on a project that aligns with our department’s commitment to presenting more expansive and inclusive narratives, particularly by women and artists of color, through our evolving collection.”
Film production designer and LAMB Design Studio’s Shane Valentino oversaw both parts with The Met’s design department. Cinematographer Bradford Young (“Selma,” “Arrival,” and “When They See Us”) worked with Valentino on the lighting, while film executive and The Black List founder Franklin Leonard acted as advisor on the exhibition. Further information can be found on metmuseum.org.
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