Met Gala 2024 – Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion – “Open Sesame,” Unearthing the Fashion Heritage

Met Gala 2024 – Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion – “Open Sesame,” Unearthing the Fashion Heritage

As customary, prior to stepping into the new year, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced the official theme for the most magnificent fashion exhibition on the planet – “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

Met Gala 2024 – Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion – “Open Sesame,” Unearthing the Fashion Heritage
Met Gala 2024 – Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion – “Open Sesame,” Unearthing the Fashion Heritage

It is no exaggeration that while award ceremonies gather the presence of many top celebrities, rarely does any fashion red carpet garner as much anticipation as the Met Gala. Each year, it is one of the most prestigious halls where we have the opportunity to witness the appearance of a host of famous stars, donning unique designs, and how they collectively ascend the legendary red-carpeted stairs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to interpret the dress code puzzle in a creatively rich manner. After the fashion exhibition themed “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” concluded, the fashion world is increasingly excited about the next guiding stories. And we now have the answer to those awaited months. In the early morning of November 9th (Vietnam time), the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the official theme for the Met Gala 2024: “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

However, if you thought this theme revolves around the stories of Disney princesses in familiar fairy tales or anticipated Zendaya’s transformation into Cinderella, then you were wrong and your anticipation was in vain. Because the exhibition space of the Met Gala 2024 – “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” is the journey to unearth the fashion heritage, reviving the classic masterpieces in the history of the fashion world. In this deep dive into these timeless treasure troves, the fashion world will not only stroll through and glance at the displayed artworks on mannequins but will also be guided by advanced technological effects and the allegory of nature. From there, “we will perceive many aspects of a design, learn more about its history, and ultimately appreciate its beauty more deeply,” as the museum shared.

“Using the natural world as a visual metaphor for the temporality of fashion. The exhibition will be an exploration of the cyclical nature of rebirth and innovation in fashion. To breathe life into the inherently fragile, untouchable archived designs, we have infused them with compelling, creative effects from scents, sounds, and fluid motions,” the museum stated in a social media post.

This imaginative and innovative art, fashion exhibition will debut on May 10th and run until September 2nd, 2024. Thanks to the advancement of new technology, precious and rarely disclosed fashion designs will be revealed, and sensory experiences surrounding them will be vividly awakened. Andrew Bolton, the mastermind behind all Met Gala exhibitions, said, “Fashion is one of the most emotionally rich art forms because it has a connection to the body. It is not only felt through sensations left on the skin but also permeates memory and emotions. That is also what I hope this exhibition will activate in perceiving fashion through all senses.”

Andrew Bolton shared with the media that about 250 clothing and accessory designs spanning four centuries will be exhibited to the public. They will be displayed in rooms inspired by the elements of nature such as earth, water, and sky, as these are conditions that directly influence craftsmanship and the selection of fashion materials. Bolton further shared, “it is very much like a poetic ode to the nature and emotional essence of fashion. Nature also serves as a broader metaphor for the fragility and transience of fashion, as well as its societal, ephemeral nature and ideas of innovation, rebirth.”

True to the literal sense of “Sleeping Beauties,” the rare and precious fashion masterpieces will be showcased in transparent glass cases with microscopes to aid close observation. Throughout 400 years, the Met Gala exhibition will once again feature a late 19th-century evening gown by the House of Worth, a World War II-era evening gown by Madeleine Vionnet, and archived works of Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, and Alexander McQueen,… all of which are rare vaults that few can unlock. The Elizabethan corset from the 17th century or iconic works by Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy will also appear in the exhibition. Alongside the historical fashion designs, centuries-old, is the interweaving of contemporary breath from the creative lenses of emerging young designers such as Collina Strada, Conner Ives, Phoebe English, Stella McCartney, and Connor Ives. The museum noted, “In each space, the historical and modern contexts of fashion will be juxtaposed in a vibrant environment for viewers to fully sense from olfactory, visual, tactile to auditory.”

Like the scenery surrounding the beds that Disney princesses fall into a deep sleep, the backdrop outside the transparent glass cases holding the precious gowns will feature artificial motion effects as well as dynamic presentation methods and high-quality sound to stimulate the viewers’ senses. Among them, the most notable is the technique of virtual image projection called “Pepper’s ghost” – often used in theaters to recreate the peak era of that design in the past. The exhibition space will also be correspondingly transformed; for example, flora and fauna from Elizabethan embroidery will appear on the walls, “a Hitchcockian flock of birds” surrounding a black tulle evening gown from before World War II will be projected onto the ceiling; meanwhile, the floor will come alive with animated serpents inspired by the sequined collar lines of early 20th-century dresses.

Nick Knight, the founder of SHOWstudio, serves as the creative image presentation consultant. In addition, fragrance artist Sissel Tolaas, known for her work with Demna at Balenciaga, has developed suitable scents for each scene in the exhibition. Meanwhile, the spatial layout of the exhibition will be designed by the architectural firm Leong Leong in collaboration with The Met’s Design Department. It is known that TikTok will be the official partner of this year’s Met Gala, along with other sponsorship from Loewe. Though not yet the official dress code, the fashion world hopes that this interesting theme will be skillfully and delicately dissected by the guests on the red carpet of the Met Gala 2024, excavating the vaults of famous fashion houses with reverence, rather than hastily like Kim Kardashian with Marilyn Monroe’s dress.

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