On the 8th of November, the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute revealed the theme of the exhibition for their annual fundraiser: ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’. According to Vogue, the exhibit will be centred around 50 historically significant pieces, some of which are far too fragile ever to be worn again.

It had been rumoured in recent months that the theme this year would revolve around a central universal idea to bring those in entertainment, politics and fashion together and avoid the controversy which has stalked recent Met Gala exhibitions and events.

Last year’s ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’ was met with heavy criticism, as Lagerfeld is a divisive and controversial figure in the fashion world. Such issues tend to arise when the theme is a person, rather than a concept. It seems the Costume Institute has realised this and is seeking to avoid the controversy that last year’s exhibit attracted.

The doors of the Costume Institute’s permanent collection will be opened and 250 items will be released. Pieces from Schiaparelli, Givenchy, Dior and Alexander McQueen will be exhumed from the extensive Met vault and put on show.

Photo by Yogendra Singh: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-model-in-a-fashion-show-5185596/
Photo by Yogendra Singh: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-model-in-a-fashion-show-5185596/

Some of these pieces will be the “Sleeping Beauties” which will be brought to life through light projection, augmented reality, AI, and CGI, with the collection interweaving both sustainability and technology to show the beneficial relationship between the two.

The human senses will be engaged through this restorative and revolutionary technology. “By appealing to the widest possible range of human senses, the show aims to reconnect with the works on display as they were originally intended – with vibrancy, with dynamism, and ultimately with life.” According to the curator in a press statement. The exhibition, paying tribute to sustainability and the natural world, will be divided into three zones, ‘Land, Sky and Sea’.

Each zone will be a celebration of the natural materials used to create the garments to highlight the relationship between fashion and the physical world of nature.

“It is very much an ode to nature and the emotional poetics of fashion,” museum curator Andrew Bolton said.

It appears that sustainability will remain a constant theme throughout the entire exhibition. This could either be interpreted as the Met’s attempt to stay clear of accusations from climate change activists or to genuinely influence change in the multibillion-euro industry.

The 2024 Met Gala, ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’, will take place on the first Monday in May in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition will last from May 10th to September 2nd, 2024.

John O’Connor – Contributor