In America: An Anthology of Fashion is the groundbreaking exhibition behind this year’s Met Gala theme

Visitors will journey from 1805 to 1915, with the exhibition taking place across a series of period rooms: including a Shaker Retiring Room from the 1830s (Shakers were a Protestant sect that set up communal settlements); the Richmond Room, a grand parlour room from early-19th-­century Virginia; and a 20th-century sitting room designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

While the rooms themselves present snapshots of ‘American domestic life’, newly-created within these settings are a number of cinematic freeze frames, masterminded by a series of influential American directors (think Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Autumn de Wilde, Tom Ford and Julie Dash). Populated by costumed mannequins, each vignette delves into the role fashion has played in ‘shaping American identity’, presented in dialogue with the history of the room itself.

Sophia Coppola told American Vogue that the vignettes are intended to ‘bring the museum to life’, inviting viewers to ‘get lost in the moment of each space.’ The settings for each director have been chosen carefully to relate to the individual and their work. Autumn de Wilde, for example, has staged her mise-en-scène, featuring two romantic early 19th-century dresses, within the Baltimore Dining Room – dating back to the same period as Jane Austen’s Emma, which De Wilde adapted for the big screen in 2020. Meanwhile Julie Dash, who made her directorial debut with 1991’s Daughters of the Dust, has shone a light on the work of early-20th-century designer Ann Lowe in her opulent reimagining of the American Wing’s Renaissance Revival Room.


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