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The Met Gala is looking for America

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The Met Gala is looking for America

The oldest piece on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s new exhibit, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, is not a garment, but a 19th century quilt borrowed from the museum’s American Wing collection. Adeline Harris Sears was the maker of this piece, who was wealthy and a successful owner in Rhode Island of a textile mill. When she was seventeen years old, she began to send silk scraps out to writers, artists and abolitionists. She then asked them for their signatures on the fabric so she could create a massive tapestry. Sears’ venture was extraordinary. While autographomania was a popular pastime for wealthy teenagers, it was not a common one. Over the next two decades she collected scraps of personalities such as Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Alexander von Humboldt, Julia Ward Howe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and seven presidents, including “Yr. Friend and Servant Abraham Lincoln. ”Editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who published Godey’s Lady’s Book, raved about Sears’ Quilt in one of her editorial letters. Hale wrote that “Who knows, maybe your work will be compared to the Bayeux Tapestry” in the future. “Not only as a marvel of the ingenious and intellectual industry of women; but as an idea of ​​the civilization of our time. “

The Met show features the quilt – the first part of a year-long, two-part exploration of American design. It is ostensibly to reflect the diversity of American fashion. Andrew Bolton, curator of the Institute, opened Monday’s preview by quoting Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention’s assertion that America wasn’t a cohesive blanket but a quilt. He said that America was more like a “thread” and that it is woven together with a common thread. This is a common obsession among celebrities. The gala, which is held every May, but has been delayed more than a decade by the pandemic. It’s both a crazy vanity project, like Sears quilt, and a labor-intensive masterpiece of the star tussle, with lots of silk cut.

Channing Tatum, in Versace.Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / GettyYara Shahidi, in Christian Dior.Photo by Jeff Kravitz / Getty

The fashion theme this year was “American Independence”, but early that evening it became clear that most of the participants were treating this assignment as a carte blanche. Gucci, Versace and Dior dominated the show – Prada, Dior Vuitton Prada, Valentino, Versace, Dior, Dior, Vuitton and Vuitton were just a few of the well-known European labels. Channing Tatum wore a simple Versace tuxedo that, as he told actress Keke Palmer (one of the host of the livestream for the Vogue event), vaguely reminded him of a photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. Actress Yara Shahidi wore a strapless beige Dior number in homage to Jazz Age entertainer Josephine Baker, an American who headed to Paris to reinvent herself. Rihanna was fashionably late, wearing a tailored, puffy black dress by Balenciaga with a touch of Rei Kawakubo and Folies Bergère. A $ AP Rocky was however wrapped in a voluminous, quilted coat made by a Californian brand, which most closely resembles American folk arts traditions.

Timothée Chalamet, in Haider Ackermann and Rick Owens.Photo by Nancy Rivera / GettyNaomi Osaka, Louis Vuitton.Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty

There were fewer iconic American archive pieces than I expected – where was that Halston? Donna Karan in the eighties Marc Jacobs from the eighties? Stephen Burrows? Some guests knew that this assignment was an opportunity to show off American designers. Jennifer Lopez was dressed in a Ralph Lauren fur-kinned saddle brown dress and a weathered Cowboy hat. Jeremy O. Harris was a screenwriter and playwright. He wore a Tommy Hilfiger cyber yellow ensemble that was inspired by Aaliyah’s style. Kim Petras, a pop singer from Korea, presented a tribute to Collina Strada in New York. The outfit was adorned with a rubberized horse head and an extravagant horse head.

Jennifer Lopez, in Ralph Lauren.Photo by John Shearer / Getty

If the occasion was anything “American” throughout, it was the breathless emphasis on youth. The four chairs of this year’s event – tennis star Naomi Osaka, singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothée Chalamet, and poet Amanda Gorman – ranged in age from late teens to mid twenties. Osaka is the Louis Vuitton brand ambassador. What’s more American than corporate sponsoring?Osaka, wore a Vuitton item co-designed by Mari Osaka as a tribute to her mixed Japanese/Haitian heritage. She also wore an obi belt in cherry-red. Eilish transformed into a Hollywood star in Oscar de la Renta. Chalamet, who is known for being a mischievous fashionista, wore a casual Haider Ackermann suit. Gorman wore a Vera Wang foamy blue dress. Gorman placed it somewhere between the Statue of Liberty, and a professional figure skater. Internet influencers Emma Chamberlain, Addison Rae and others walked the red carpet. While their presence is certainly a scourge to high fashion snobs and is undoubtedly a slap in the face to the power of social media in spreading and creating trends, it was an intentional nod to the importance of social media.

Amanda Gorman, in Vera Wang.Photo by Getty

An opulent charity ball can hardly be expected to be a revolutionary event, but given our current national vortex, it was surprising how few people interpreted the American issue as a call for political statements. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Brooklyn-based black designer and activist Aurora James, of Brother Vellies, wore a custom white dress with the words “Tax the rich” printed on the back in red. Nothing on the red carpet was as exciting as what I witnessed earlier in the day at a press preview for the Costume Institute show. There are over 100 pieces from American designers in the exhibition, including some well-known brands like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors. Every outfit is accompanied by a matching headgear, such as esprit. vitality. and self-determination. What could be more American than reciting the self-help mantra? But the show provided real joys when it interacted with designers still in the early stages of their careers. Some of them had no warning that their pieces would make it to the market.

Jeremy O. Harris, in Tommy Hilfiger.Photo by Jeff Kravitz / GettyAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in Brother Vellies.Photo by Kevin Mazur / Getty

Aaron Potts, of A. Potts label, said he only suspected a woolly yellow blanket coat from his fall 2021 collection would be on the show because the museum requested the garment and didn’t send it back. His inclusion was welcomed by “a young Black designer” he stated. Claude Kameni, a young LA designer, walked alongside Sears’ quilt. His stunning gown in an African wax print, which reflected her Cameroon roots, was displayed next to Sears’ piece. “It’s impossible!” Flapping her hands, she said this to her phone camera. Designer Susan Cianciolo from another hall, whose black dress is from 1999, was in a sigh because Claire McKinney (a brand called SC103) and Sophie Andes Gascon (another Pratt student) had placed it on the stage. They made it with an avantgarde weave.

The entire Costume Institute showed a relaxed and sociable vibe due to the emphasis on offspring. Becca McCharen Tran, who designs provocative swimwear and bodysuits in her Chromat brand, wore combat boots with green eyeshadow to match her neon ponytail. She said that the curators wanted a size 14 for her black lycra swimsuit, which has anti-chafing straps. She said, “It’s not for people whose legs touch.” She reached for the glass cabinet to take the zipper off the swimsuit. “Hey, my alarm didn’t sound, so I guess it can be done,” she replied. This is a small act American independence.

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