Ahead of the Met Gala next Monday, considered by many to be the biggest night on the fashion calendar, Vogue is pumping out all kinds of exclusive content to drive anticipation. This, after all, is their party. Not officially, of course, since technically it’s the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But since Anna Wintour has presided over this event for years, and is credited with making it the cultural spectacle it’s become, Vogue naturally has the lead on coverage.
While most of us know the Met Gala as a fashion show, its intended purpose is to support the Costume Institute and showcase the annual exhibit. There are two exhibits running concurrently with the 2022 Met Gala this year – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which debuted last September, and In America: An Anthology of Fashion that will premiere next week. For the “Anthology”, nine directors will be presenting vignettes at the museum that tell a story from the history of American fashion. One of those directors is Tom Ford, also a Met Gala honorary chair this year. His film will be about the Battle of Versailles of 1973 and yesterday Vogue published a long piece about that iconic night when the Americans went to Paris and “won” the style war, according to the media, and in the process revolutionised attitudes about fashion.
With that in mind, consider the theme of this year’s Met Gala. “In America” seems pretty broad, although the invitations specify that it’s to be “gilded glamour, white tie” which basically means half of the attendees will show up in Age of Innocence cosplay – bows, pearls, feathers, ruffles, lace, corsets.
The hope, however, is that there will be a few standouts who go deeper with the interpretation, mine the history of it like the Battle of Versailles, for example, and really stand out among the petticoats and the opera gloves. Like when Sarah Jessica Parker for Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, the theme for the Met Gala in 2016, instead of looking like a robot and wearing metallic, rocked up Hamilton-inspired outfit and took everyone to school. She was our Best Dressed at the Met Gala that year.
Speaking of SJP, Vogue also yesterday posted an exclusive with her as she revisited some of her most memorable Met Gala looks and shared the inspiration and the WORK behind creating them. As she said:
“Whenever I go to the Met, I don’t understand how everyone else didn’t spend 7 to 10 months working on it. The assignment is the theme, and you should interpret it. It should be labor-intensive and challenging.”
I don’t always agree with SJP, but when it comes to the Met Gala, you can’t really fight her – because she reliably attends in service of the theme. She’s not there to make the MiniVan Majority’s Best Dressed List, it’s never, ever the goal to simply look good; for her the priority is to honour the spirt of the Costume Institute’s exhibit, even if it means wearing something that some, or most, don’t “get”.
Like in 2015, when the theme was China: Through the Looking Glass, and she wore the most extravagant headpiece inspired by the headpieces worn by traditional Chinese brides:
I didn’t pick up on it at the time but look at those jade bangles on both her wrists! There’s another example of how thoroughly she and her team researched, and the care they put into the details, without getting into appropriation.
But the headpiece was mocked in the moment. As is often the case where SJP and the Met Gala is concerned, her looks appreciate over time. I really hope we see her on Monday.
Yours in gossip,