2021’s Met Costume Institute Exhibition Will Focus on American Fashion’s History

The two part exhibition includes "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" and "In America: An Anthology of Fashion."

Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner at the 2019 Met Gala celebrating Camp. Mike Coppola/MG19/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute exhibition and corresponding Gala inevitably produces divisive incidents of celebrity fashion. In 2019, the “Camp” theme resulted in shapeshifting Lady Gaga looks by Brandon Maxwell, a rather basic Chanel outing from Kristen Stewart and Katy Perry literally dressed as a candelabra. In 2020, of course, the “About Time: Fashion and Duration” Gala had to be called off due to the coronavirus. In 2021, however, it looks like things will be resuming: on Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that the Costume Institute’s next major exhibition will commence on September 18th 2021, and it will be entitled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.

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Additionally, this means that the Met Gala corresponding to the exhibition will actually be taking place twice: the first, “more intimate” celebration will be taking place on September 13th of this year, and a larger one will take place on May 2nd, 2022. “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” is actually the first of a two-part exhibition; the second part, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” will open in the Met’s American Wing period rooms on May 5th 2022. “A Lexicon of Fashion” will “explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion,” according to the museum, while “An Anthology of Fashion” will “explore the development of American fashion.”

“Fashion is both a harbinger of cultural shifts and a record of the forces, beliefs, and events that shape our lives,” Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said in a statement. “This two-part exhibition will consider how fashion reflects evolving notions of identity in America and will explore a multitude of perspectives through presentations that speak to some of the complexities of history with powerful immediacy.”

When it comes to what the celebrities will be wearing to these divided events, expect two-part looks that will unfold cohesively between the two different parties. Perhaps a more modern, classical look for the first event, with a more archival choice for the second. In any case, there’s a huge wellspring of recognizably iconic American items to choose from.

2021’s Met Costume Institute Exhibition Will Focus on American Fashion’s History