It may be time to get out those fairytale ballgowns. The theme of the next Met Gala has been unveiled: “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”
The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art revealed the theme of its spring 2024 exhibit, which is launched by the huge party known as the Met Gala, on Wednesday. Yet to be announced: the celebrity hosts of the May 6 affair.
The “sleeping beauties” referred to in the title of the show are actually treasured garments in the museum’s collection that are so fragile, they need to be housed in special glass “coffins,” curators said. Garments will be displayed in a series of galleries organized by themes of nature.
“Using the natural world as a uniting visual metaphor for the transience of fashion, the show will explore cyclical themes of rebirth and renewal, breathing new life into these storied objects through creative and immersive activations designed to convey the scents, sounds, textures, and motions of garments that can no longer directly interact with the body,” the museum said in a statement.
The Met Gala, traditionally held the first Monday in May, is one of the biggest pop culture spectacles of the year with fashionable stars like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Billy Porter and Rihanna wearing elegant outfits addressed to the night’s theme. Last year’s gala honored late designer Karl Lagerfeld, but other years have opted for broader themes like punk, American fashion, camp or another recent selection: “Gilded glamour.”
Curator Andrew Bolton, who masterminds all the Met Gala exhibits, explained that the upcoming show includes both rare historical garments and corresponding contemporary fashions.
“When an item of clothing enters our collection, its status is changed irrevocably,” Bolton said in the statement. “What was once a vital part of a person’s lived experience is now a motionless ‘artwork’ that can no longer be worn or heard, touched, or smelled. The exhibition endeavors to reanimate these artworks by re-awakening their sensory capacities.”
About 250 garments and accessories spanning four centuries will be on view. The exhibit will unfold in a series of rooms, each displaying a theme inspired by the natural world, “in an immersive environment intended to engage a visitor’s sense of sight, smell, touch, and hearing.”
Examples will include a space decorated with the “insectoid embroidery” of an Elizabethan bodice, or a ceiling projecting “a Hitchcockian swarm of black birds” surrounding a black tulle evening dress from before the outbreak of World War II.
The exhibit will run May 10-Sept. 2, 2024.
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