In America: a lexicon of American fashion arrives at the Met


“In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion” arrives at the Met

The first of a year-long two-part extravaganza, “In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion” is organized into 12 sections that seek to define the emotional qualities of American style.

While the past themes covered by the Met Museum’s Costume Institute shows ranged from the fantastic to the esoteric, this year’s deep dive into fashion in America was not only timely, but necessary as well. American fashion has long been considered more commercial and pragmatic than its European counterparts, but the exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion” proves that fantasy and emotion are also well-established qualities in fashion. on this side of the pond.

The first of a year-long two-part extravaganza, “In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion” opens with an exhibition of 100 garments dating from 1940 to the present day, in an installation design inspired by a patchwork quilt. Referencing an 1856 quilt in the American wing of the museum created by Adeline Harris Sears with diamond-shaped white silk squares signed by some of the most famous Americans of the time, the exhibit is made up of cases white muslin – a three-dimensional patchwork quilt – each containing a specimen of American fashion history.

Organized into 12 sections that seek to define the emotional qualities of American fashion, such as nostalgia, belonging, joy and strength, each exhibit is accompanied by a helmet designed by Stephen Jones featuring a word summarizing a corresponding sentiment. , thus forming a complete visual dictionary. Most notably, the showcase features a wide range of designers, past and present, of different ages, origins, cultures and genres who capture how colorful American culture is.

“In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion”: defining the style of the United States

    Installation view of the American Fashion Lexicon

Above, installation view, Assurance. Below, installation view, Comfort. Images: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“American fashion has traditionally been described through the language of sportswear and ready-to-wear, with an emphasis on the principles of simplicity, practicality, functionality and egalitarianism,” says Andrew Bolton, chief curator of the Costume Institute. “Generally negated by the emotional rhetoric applied to European fashion, American fashion has developed a vernacular which tends to oppose that of haute couture directly. The first part of “In America” ​​addresses this linguistic imbalance by presenting a revised vocabulary of American fashion based on its expressive qualities. ‘

Met Director Max Hollein adds: “Objects from established designers are showcased alongside emerging talent, whose creations represent over 70% of the works in the exhibition, most appearing in our galleries for the very first time. . The exhibition shows how designers in the United States today focus more on emotion than on [the] practicality we find in the work of previous generations, rekindling a renaissance in American fashion by addressing social, religious and philosophical issues to move fashion culture towards greater plurality and diversity.

The recognition of having been included in such a seminal showcase by such a legendary institution did not escape the show’s participants. Throughout the press preview for “In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion”, designers young and old, emerging and established, could be heard exclaim and profess their disbelief at the idea of ​​seeing their creations – a testament to the uplifting effect that inclusion and recognition can have.

From the Pendelton wool coat by Andre Walker (Comfort) to the flowing dresses of the 2021 Wallpaper * Design Awards judge Christopher John Rogers (Exuberance), with Vaquera (Naivete), a black wool jersey dress from 1989 by Geoffrey Beene (Grace ) and 1986 beaded dresses by Patrick Kelly (Joy), as well as denim patchwork designs by Heron Preston (Yearning) and antique quilts by Bode (Togetherness), the show is a true celebration of creative expression in America and its reach. §


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