Inside The Met's In America: A Lexicon of Fashion

March 28, 2022, 10:10.19 pm ET  

Gallery View, Fragility Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art                             

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has unveiled its second iteration of In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Through rotating nearly 70 percent of the works on view in the first iteration, the new installation expands on the modern vocabulary of American fashion that began with the exhibition’s opening in September 2021.

[Gallery View, Desire Dress, Laquan Smith (American, born 1988), fall/winter 2022–23; Courtesy Laquan Smith. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

The exhibition welcomes more than 70 new works and 35 new designers, including 30 emerging designers. Together, these additions further reflect on the vitality and diversity of American fashion.

[Gallery View, Wonder Dress, Wiederhoeft (American, founded 2019), Jackson Wiederhoeft (American, born 1993), fall/winter 2020; Courtesy Wiederhoeft. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

The garments are organized into 12 sections that explore defining emotional qualities of American fashion. The sections are “Nostalgia,” “Belonging,” “Fragility,” “Joy,” “Wonder,” “Affinity,” “Confidence,” “Strength,” “Desire,” “Assurance,” “Comfort,” and “Consciousness.” The individual garments reflect various expressions of these sentiments, conveyed in word-bubble headpieces. Nineteen new words have been added to build upon these sentiments: recollection, attachment, fragility, buoyancy, delicacy, purity, lightness, ethereality, hopefulness, tenderness, gentleness, certainty, command, magnetism, facility, relief, nurturance, attentiveness, and symbiosis.

[Gallery View, Wonder Left: Dress, Batsheva (American, founded 2016), Batsheva Hay (American, born 1981), spring/summer 2021; Courtesy Batsheva. Right: Dress, Prabal Gurung (American, born Singapore, 1979), spring/summer 2022; Courtesy Prabal Gurung. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, said: “The second rotation of In America: A Lexicon of Fashion introduces many new garments as well as many new designers to further examine the expressive qualities underpinning American fashion. The show’s yearlong timeframe has allowed us to experiment with a new methodology that reflects the concept of fashion as a living, breathing art form, one that speaks powerfully to the zeitgeist. It has enabled us to engage directly with current conversations—both artistic and cultural—that are directing and defining the future of fashion, reflecting The Costume Institute’s ongoing ambition to present ‘fashion history in the making.’”

[Evening dress, Stephen Burrows (American, born 1943), 1973; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Anne Markley Spivak, 1985 (1985.379.4a, b). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/In America: An Anthology of Fashion]

The exhibition is now open in the Anna Wintour Costume Center and will remain on view when Part Two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, opens on May 7. Parts One and Two will close on September 5, 2022.

[“Butterfly” ball gown, Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978), ca. 1955; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2013 (2013.591). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/In America: An Anthology of Fashion]

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