We’re a month and change away from the first Monday in May, and the Met Gala is back on its usual schedule. On May 2, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will present In America: An Anthology of Fashion, the second chapter of its two-part exhibition on American fashion to follow up last year’s In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. This year’s theme, New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman shared on Twitter, is Gilded Glamour.
The event’s co-chairs are actress and filmmaker Regina King, actress Blake Lively, actor and Lively husband Ryan Reynolds, and actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda. (This year’s co-chair foursome is a bit of a departure from last Gala’s Gen Z contingent of actor Timothée Chalamet, singer Billie Eilish, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and poet Amanda Gorman.) American designer Tom Ford, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour will continue their roles as the Gala’s honorary co-chairs; Ford and King are among a group of filmmakers, which also includes Sofia Coppola and Chloé Zhao, who created cinematic vignettes for the exhibition.
And for a bit of historical context on the theme: Gilded Glamour is a reference to America’s Gilded Age, the period of rapid industrialization and massive economic growth during the roughly three decades that preceded the turn of the century. This age also saw the end of Reconstruction in 1877, prohibiting many Black Americans from participating in or benefiting the economic boom. (The era got its name from the Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, a satire of post-Civil War America and its rising industrialist class.)
In turn, An Anthology of Fashion will center the laborers of the era, highlighting individual designers and dressmakers who worked in the U.S. from the 19th century to the mid-late 20th century. Given the theme, there’s a good chance the ensembles will be even glitzier, or more political, or both, than usual.
The new exhibition will span a series of installations in the period rooms of the American Wing inside the museum, and both A Lexicon and An Anthology will remain on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan through September 5.