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Hollywood will have a strong presence at this year’s Met Gala — and not only on the red carpet. A group of top film directors including Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Regina King and last year’s Oscar winner Chloé Zhao will be a key part of the Costume Institute exhibit launching the gala in May.
Star curator Andrew Bolton on Tuesday announced the list of eight directors who will create what he called “cinematic vignettes” in the period rooms of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The other four are Janicza Bravo, Julie Dash, Autumn de Wilde and Tom Ford, the celebrated fashion designer who is also a film director.
The latest exhibit — In America: An Anthology of Fashion — is actually the second part of a major two-part show exploring the roots of American fashion. The first part opened in September along with a pared-down “mini-gala,” one of two galas planned within one year as the Costume Institute grapples with pandemic restrictions, like every other arts institution.
This exhibit, to open along with what the museum hopes will be a full-sized gala on May 2 — a return to the traditional first Monday in May — will feature about 100 examples of men’s and women’s fashion from the 19th to the mid-late 20th century.
Whereas Part One, which will remain on display in the rooms of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, explores “a new language of American fashion,” Part Two looks at “unfamiliar sartorial narratives filtered through the imaginations of some of America’s most visionary film directors,” Bolton said in remarks Tuesday.
In addition, some of the garments that have been on display in Part One will be rotated out next month, to include other designers not yet featured. That exhibit attempts to focus on themes of social justice, diversity and inclusivity and body acceptance. And youth: A majority of its garments come from younger designers, many of whom have never had their creations shown in a museum, Bolton said when it opened in September.
On Tuesday, Bolton and museum director Max Hollein told a press gathering at the museum that each of the eight directors would create their own “fictional cinematic vignettes, or ‘freeze frames,'” within specific American Wing period rooms. The exhibit would focus, they said, on key individuals shaping American fashion through history, most of them women, and many of them overlooked by history — not just designers but tailors and dressmakers, for example.
Bolton said Scorsese would show his work in a 20th-century living room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and King in a 19th-century parlor from Richmond, Virginia.
De Wilde will show hers in the Baltimore and Benkard Rooms; Zhao in a Shaker Retiring Room from the 1830s; Bravo in 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; and Ford in the gallery showcasing John Vanderlyn’s panoramic 1819 mural of Versailles.
Bolton also explained that six “case studies” will appear in the galleries, offering an in-depth look — “almost forensic analyses,” he said — at historical garments important to the history of fashion. Examples, he said, would include outfits believed worn by Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
The celebrity co-chairs of the May gala have yet to be announced. In September, they were actor Timothée Chalamet, musician Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
The Met Gala is a huge money-maker for the museum, and provides the Costume Institute with its main source of funding. In America: An Anthology of Fashion opens to the public May 7, five days after the May 2 gala, and runs until September 5, along with Part One.
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