Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual The Costume Institute’s exhibition was delayed but opened in September nonetheless. In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, launches a two-part exploration of fashion in the United States in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. It establishes a modern vocabulary of American fashion based on its expressive qualities.
This portion of the exhibition uses the organizing principle of a patchwork quilt. A signature quilt begun in 1856 from The Met’s American Wing collection opens the show, and serves as a metaphor for the United States and its varied cultural identities.
Approximately 100 men’s and women’s ensembles by a diverse range of designers from the 1940s to the present are featured. Enclosed in scrimmed cases that represent three-dimensional “patches” of a quilt, they are organized into 12 sections that explore defining emotional qualities: Nostalgia, Belonging, Delight, Joy, Wonder, Affinity, Confidence, Strength, Desire, Assurance, Comfort, and Consciousness.
Part two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion—opening in the American Wing period rooms on May 5, 2022—will present sartorial narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of those rooms.