Fashion

Met Gala 2020: everything you need to know about fashion’s biggest party

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The ‘Oscars of fashion’ are still six months away, but the theme of the party and the co-hosts have already been announced.

Fashion fans, mark 4 May in your calendar now.

That’s the first Monday in May next year, and therefore the date upon which the 2020 Met Gala will fall. This will be the night that the ‘Oscars of fashion’ take place, an evening when some of the biggest names in Hollywood, design, sport and music descend upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to fete the latest sartorial exhibition at the gallery.

It’s ostensibly a fundraising evening – and it certainly raises funds. (The 2019 Met Gala raised a record-breaking $15 million for the museum, bringing total contributions from the annual balls to more than $200 million.) But it’s also a chance to see your favourite celebrities dress up according to each year’s theme. Some will rise to the occasion – Rihanna, Zendaya, Billy Porter, Sarah Jessica Parker, gold stars all round – while others will not. The famous red carpet-clad stairs at the Met Gala never fail to entertain. 

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What is the theme of the 2020 Met Gala? 

Naomi Campbell at the 2019 Met Gala.

The theme of the 2020 Met Gala is ‘About Time’, inspired by the exhibition staged by curator Andrew Bolton at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that will be launched by the ball.

Speaking to Vogue, Bolton explained that he drew on the works of Virginia Woolf and, in particular, the 1992 Sally Potter film adaptation of Woolf’s Orlando. Themes of time, history and gender will be present in the exhibition, which happens to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art itself.

Guests at the Met Gala will be invited to meditate on the notion of the fluidity of time and the ways in which fashion and dress have evolved throughout the centuries. “There’s a wonderful scene [in Orlando] in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th century woman’s robe a la Francaise,” Bolton told Vogue, “and as she runs through it, her clothes change to mid-19th century dress and she reemerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea from.” 

 What will be in the ‘About Time’ exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art? 

Met Gala: Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas
Met Gala: Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas.

Some 160 items of clothing will be exhibited as part of ‘About Time’, separated into two sections of the exhibition. The idea behind this delineation, Bolton explained, was to give a clear sense of a timeline in the evolution of dress.

The first section will be comprised of entire black garments running from 1870 to 2020 – “the timescale of modernity,” Bolton said. The second section will be largely made up of white outfits with a few pops of colour. These pieces will not be arranged in chronological format, and will serve as points of debate and conversation to the earlier black pieces.

Sponsored by Louis Vuitton, the exhibition will be an examination of the ways in which history repeats itself. Similarities between designers – Alaïa‎ and Vionnet or Poiret and Galliano – will be explored. Other pairings, like Chanel and Patou, seek to show how in particular eras one designer might rise, while the other falls.

“This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical,” Max Hollein, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said in a press release. The exhibition will run at the gallery from 7 May 2020 until 7 September 2020. 

Who are the co-chairs of the 2020 Met Gala?

Miranda Priestly is the best character in The Devil Wears Prada

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time: Meryl Streep! The Oscar-winning actor will join Anna Wintour – editor in chief of Vogue US and the woman upon whom Streep’s The Devil Wears Prada character Miranda Priestly was based – at the top of the Met’s towering, notorious stairs next May as co-chair and host of the gala.

Joining Streep as co-chairs are Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, Emma Stone and Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

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Ghesquière and Stone, the face of Louis Vuitton, were shoe-ins for the job, considering the involvement of the brand with the exhibition. Miranda’s most famous work, the smash-hit musical Hamilton that he wrote, directed and starred in, took a historical figure and reexamined him through a modern lens, riffing on themes outlined in the exhibition. Plus, as a born-and-bred New Yorker, Miranda grew up with the Met in his life.

And Streep? Well, aside from the Wintour-Priestly connection, don’t forget that she starred in The Hours, the Oscar-winning film that spliced a biopic of Virginia Woolf with an adaptation of her most famous work Mrs Dalloway. Given that the author’s canon is the inspiration for the entire exhibition, Streep’s choice as co-chair seems particularly apt. 

The 2020 Met Gala will take place on 4 May 2020.

Images: Getty, The Devil Wears Prada

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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