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The Costume Institute celebrates American fashion during 2021 and 2022

April 16 2021

The Costume Institute announces a two-part exhibition on the theme of American fashion during 2021 and 2022, in two areas of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The first exhibition, which usually inaugurated during the Met Gala, is called this year “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” will open in the Anna Wintour Costume Center on September 18, 2021, and will remain on display. The second part is titled “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” opens on May 5, 2022 in the period rooms of the American Wing.

Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator of the Costume Institute, settled on the theme for two reasons: “The main one was the fact that the American fashion community has been supporting us for 75 years, really since the beginning of the Costume Institute, so I wanted to acknowledge its support, and also to celebrate and reflect upon American fashion.” The decision to revisit the subject was based on industry change, in response to the political and social justice movements of the last several years.

Over the past year, because of the pandemic, the connections to our homes have become more emotional, as have those to our clothes. For American fashion, this has meant an increased emphasis on sentiment over practicality. Responding to this shift, Part One of the exhibition will establish a modern vocabulary of American fashion based on the expressive qualities of clothing as well as deeper associations with issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Part Two will further investigate the evolving language of American fashion through a series of collaborations with American film directors who will visualize the unfinished stories inherent in The Met’s period rooms,” Bolton said.

Fashion is both a harbinger of cultural shifts and a record of the forces, beliefs, and events that shape our lives,” said Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “This two-part exhibition will consider how fashion reflects evolving notions of identity in America and will explore a multitude of perspectives through presentations that speak to some of the complexities of history with powerful immediacy. In looking at the past through this lens, we can consider the aesthetic and cultural impact of fashion on historical aspects of American life.

Awaiting the next government guidelines, a smaller celebration is planned for September 13, 2021, coincident with the close of the New York Fashion Week. The event will then return to regular scheduling the first Monday in May, in 2022.

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“In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”
September 18, 2021
Anna Wintour Costume Center

“In America: An Anthology of Fashion”
May 5, 2022
American Wing Period Rooms

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
10028 New York

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Photo: "VEIL FLAG" by S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA., 2020. Courtesy of Sterling Ruby Studio. Photography by Melanie Schiff.