“About Time: Fashion and Duration” traces a century and a half of fashion, from 1870 to present.


By Hanna McNeila.

As we can see from the flared jeans, corset tops, and pearls that are floating around our Instagram feeds, fashion trends are never new, they are simply recycled and reimagined. That is what The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s new exhibition “About Time: Fashion and Duration” is all about. The exhibit, which was pushed back from its original opening date May 4 due to COVID-19, explores the idea that time is far from linear when it comes to fashion.

Despite the fact that it was postponed, the show has come at the perfect moment. Since the start of the pandemic, most people have probably noticed time moving a bit differently, whether that be flying by or stuck in place. This is something that Andre Bolton, the museum’s Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Costume Institute acknowledges. “Now because of what is happening, there is such a difference between objective time and your internal time,” Bolton said in an interview with Vogue.

The exhibit, which is sponsored by Louis Vuitton, consists of almost entirely black garments and traces a century and a half of fashion, from 1870 to present. It features two fashion timelines, displayed in neighboring galleries. Each of the timelines include fashion ensembles which are laid out in the formation of a clock face, organized around the principle of 60 minutes of fashion. Virginia Woolf serves as the ghost-narrator with some of her writings read aloud by Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore who starred in the 2002 movie The Hours, based on a Michael Cunningham novel that took inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. In order to illustrate the concept that the past co-exists with the present, garments from different periods of time are styled together. One of the pairings consists of a satin dress with leg of mutton sleeves from the 1890s, and a Commes des Garçons deconstructed ensemble from 2004. The brands selected to feature in the exhibition include Chanel, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Off-White, and more. The exhibit will be open until February 7, 2021.

To accompany the exhibit, eight designers created special items which will only be available to buy in person at the 5th Ave Met Museum. The items include a Gypsie Sport “I Heart NY” bucket hat, t-shirt and hoodie, all of which were made from I Heart NY merchandise found on Canal Street, as well as upcycled bags and jackets crafted by Bode, a silk scarf with a clock themed print by Libertine, ruffled socks by Brother Vellies, and a corset tee by Vaquera. All of the pieces were made of repurposed and recycled materials. The collection also includes COVID-19 masks by Off-White, Gypsy Sport, Bode, Erdem, and Balmain, all of which are available at the “About Time” store.

Images via @metmuseum