The Metropolitan Museum of Art will host “About Time: Fashion and Duration” for its annual spring Costume Institute exhibition. Taking place from May 7, 2020 until September 7, 2020, the show will also aid in the museum’s ongoing celebration of its 150th anniversary, as it illustrates 150 years of fashion history.
The Costume Institute’s spring 2020 exhibition will trace more than a century and a half of fashion—from 1870 to the present—along a disruptive timeline, as part of The Met’s 150th anniversary celebration. Employing Henri Bergson’s concept of la durée (duration), it will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present, and future. Virginia Woolf will serve as the “ghost narrator” of the exhibition.
A linear chronology of fashion comprised of black ensembles will run through the exhibition reflecting the progressive timescale of modernity, and bringing into focus the fast, fleeting rhythm of fashion. Interrupting this timeline will be a series of counter-chronologies composed of white ensembles that predate or postdate those in black, but relate to one another through shape, motif, material, pattern, technique, or decoration. For example, a black princess-line dress from the late 1870s will be paired with an Alexander McQueen “Bumster” skirt from 1995, and a black bustle ensemble from the mid-1880s will be juxtaposed with a Comme des Garçons “Body Meets Dress—Dress Meets Body” dress from 1997.
The exhibition will conclude with a section on the future of fashion, linking the concept of duration to debates about longevity and sustainability.