On Friday, before the Met Gala (and with the opening of the museum exhibition), I met designer and Impressorio Tremain Emory for tea. The theme of this year’s exhibition In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, And Emory, who designs T-shirts, sweaters and sneakers called Denim Tears, recently learned that her work will be featured on the show. She began to think about the meaning of American fashion – the way it is rarely about design and much more about combining references and style with originality. It’s a kind of rush, you might say.
“Mark and Ralph,” he said, referring to Jacobs and Lauren, respectively, “the ultimate curator. Good at curating, styling.” [West]That’s good too. Curator and storyteller. “
He went on the list: Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Willie Smith. JCPenney! And, of course, Levi’s, with whom she designed her most famous outfit: a matching jacket adorned with a pair of jeans and a cotton wreath – tempting products, but which she described as a shareholder in her family history, and exploiting the black labor of the cotton business. Those pieces are on the show, along with a sweater of David Hammon’s African-American flag.
The inclusion of Emory, who in his early 40s and never did a runway show, suggests that the Met show would approach it a little differently. Over the years, the Costume Institute has embraced great themes such as camps and the Catholic Church, mounting stunning exhibitions of Versace clothing and galliano gowns. For some reason this approach will not make sense this year. American fashion isn’t really about being bold or showing off – the average New Yorker on the subway is wearing crocuses and sweatpants. Even the most skilled American designers, from Claire McCardell to Supreme, are winners for the perfect comfort of their clothes, and the way they create expressive pieces with mostly native forms.
Nevertheless, there was a concern among fashion fans and even designers that the “America” theme could lead the institute, which has been criticized for not adequately illuminating the work of non-white designers, to tell a flashy story of American fashion, a tasteful ballgown. And nifty if sleeping pantsuit. Instead, the show is a silver lining to American fashion, explained by head curator Andrew Bolton, and it provides an impressive aerial view of the current diversity and diversity of American fashion. Row and row designs are presented, each with their own Stephen Jones-designed fascinator whose work has a niche of brevity, and which puts young culture designers like Emory and Eli Russell Linnets with legends like McCardel and Donna Curran.