Just a few years ago, the Met Gala themes were as simple as the name of a label, like Comme des Garçons, or a style, like punk. But those days seem to be in the past. Even though celebrities interpreted this past year’s theme, camp, with varying degrees of success, the Metropolitan Museum of Art appears to be sticking with complexity: On Thursday, it announced that next year’s Costume Institute exhibition will be titled “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”
Abstract as that may be, it certainly fits in with the fact that the Met will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020. Oddly enough, though, that doesn’t seem to have factored very much into the Costume Institute’s decision-making. Andrew Bolton, its lead curator, told the New York Times he was simply looking for “something that connects to the zeitgeist, and what people are talking about now.” And what’s more timely than time?
The exhibition will cover 150 years of fashion, and apparently take a “nuanced and open-ended” approach. “It’s a reimagining of fashion history that’s fragmented, discontinuous, and heterogeneous,” Bolton said.
As for inspiration, Bolton is looking to the theories of Henri Bergson, a 20th-century French philosopher, as well as both versions of Orlando—the 1928 novel by Virginia Woolf, and the 1992 film adaptation by director Sally Potter, which center on a person who suddenly transforms into a woman after spending hundreds of years living as a man.”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 re-emerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from,” Bolton said. (Swinton recently turned to Orlando for inspiration herself, when curating her first-ever art exhibition.)
Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, and Emma Stone will take over as co-chairs. Of course, as she’s wont to do, Streep has already managed to stand apart: Her appearance at the 2020 edition will mark her first-ever Met Gala.
Luckily, celebrities have plenty of, well, time to figure out how to interpret the theme between now and May 2020. Will Taylor Swift take up the chance to bring one of her cats—Benjamin Button—to the red carpet? Will Streep go the more serious route, and bring back the once omnipresent pins for Time’s Up? Will a book lover like Emma Roberts nod to Proust by snacking on some madeleines? Only time will tell, but some references, like Elsa Schiaparelli’s collaboration with Dalì and Alice in Wonderland, seem all but guaranteed to show up—as does Katy Perry, wearing the fall/winter 2009 Jeremy Scott dress in the shape of a grandfather clock.