Princess Aurora and sleeping beauties everywhere, it's your time to shine.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute has revealed details of its spring 2024 exhibit — thereby unveiling the theme of the next Met Gala, which provides the institute with its primary source of funding.
This year's presentation is called "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion."
While it's not necessarily an ode to Disney princesses, it is a reference to the museum's collection of treasured garments that are so fragile they have to appear in glass "coffins" — à la, sleeping beauties — instead of standing tall on mannequins.
The installation will include 250 pieces spanning 400 years of fashion history, but it will be structured around "15 historically significant and aesthetically beautiful pieces" too fragile to ever be worn again.
These and its other pieces will be shaped around three main "zones" — land, sea and sky — to show how the evolving natural world affects the craft of manipulating materials to create garments.
Designs from Stella McCartney, Elsa Schiaparelli, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and more will all be featured, with some pieces rarely even seen in public.
Designs encased in coffins will be brought back to life using an illusion technique known as Pepper's ghost. Others will use augmented reality, X-rays, video animation, light projection, soundscaping, AI, CGI and other forms of sensory stimulation to help the visitor understand each piece's fabric.
"When an item of clothing enters our collection, its status is changed irrevocably. What was once a vital part of a person's lived experience is now a motionless 'artwork' that can no longer be worn or heard, touched, or smelled" said Andrew Bolton, the institute's curator, in a statement. "The exhibition endeavors to reanimate these artworks by re-awakening their sensory capacities through a diverse range of technologies, affording visitors sensorial 'access' to rare historical garments and rarefied contemporary fashions. By appealing to the widest possible range of human senses, the show aims to reconnect with the works on display as they were originally intended—with vibrancy, with dynamism, and ultimately with life."
Yet to be announced is which celebrity hosts will lead the May 6 Met Gala, and another question involving the stars is how they'll dress the part.
Each year, the event is a spectacle for viewers wondering how attendees will interpret the theme. In years past, some themes have been easier to follow: The 2023 event honored late designer Karl Lagerfeld, with many appearing in tributes to him, but other themes have been more broad, like 2022's "Gilded Glamour" exhibit and 2021 exploring "American Independence."
Next May, stars will likely choose between reinventing a historical piece to wearing archival designs. Some may lean into the technological side of this year's exhibit, potentially using AI or lights to change their look.
But beyond the attendees, if you want to be one yourself — at least, attending the exhibit itself — it will be open at the Met from May 10 to Sept. 2, 2024.
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