The upcoming Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition “About Time: Fashion and Duration” explores how clothes generate temporal associations.
The fashion exhibit made possible by Louis Vuitton will trace more than a century and a half of fashion, from 1870 to the present, along a disruptive timeline, as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th-anniversary celebration. Employing philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of “la durée” – time that flows, accumulates and is indivisible – the exhibition will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate the past, present, and future.
In celebration of the opening, The Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 4, 2020. Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director Nicolas Ghesquière will co-chair the event along with Emma Stone, Lin- Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, and Anna Wintour.
Virginia Woolf will serve as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibition.
A linear chronology of fashion comprised of black ensembles will run through the exhibition reflecting the progressive timescale of modernity, and bringing into focus the fast, fleeting rhythm of fashion. Interrupting this timeline will be a series of counter-chronologies composed of white ensembles that predate or postdate those in black, but relate to one another through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995, and a black bustle ensemble from the mid-1880s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons “Body Meets Dress—Dress Meets Body” dress from 1997.
The exhibition will conclude with a section on the future of fashion, linking the concept of duration to debates about longevity and sustainability.
The exhibition is made possible by Louis Vuitton, with additional support provided by Condé Nast.
“Fashion is indelibly connected to time. It not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times, serving as an especially sensitive and accurate timepiece,” Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, said in a press statement.