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Met Gala 2020: History of the Theme and High-End Dresses

Every year, the first Monday in the month of May marks on the fashion calendar as one of the most anticipated events the year. The beloved Met Gala was a place for all of the high-end dresses, new and old, to come to life in an abstract reality. With monumental gala themes each year, it allows for designers, stylists, and celebrities to celebrate some of the most iconic trends, ideas, and designers in fashion history. Had the Met Gala’s 150th-anniversary event not been canceled the theme would have been “About Time: Fashion and Duration”, the reimagining of fashion history that is discontinuous, fragmented, and heterogeneous.

Met Gala Theme:

The inspiration behind this timeless theme was from Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando published in 1928, which was later produced into a major motion picture in the 1990s, bringing the age of romanticism to life. Woolf’s idea of time was thought of as a continuum with no definite beginning, middle, or endpoint. Andrew Bolton, Head Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in NYC, gave more insight into the inspiration behind the theme stating that “there’s a wonderful scene in Orlando which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th-century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it, her clothes change to mid-19th-century dress, and she reemerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.” 

 

Bolton’s idea with the theme was to highlight various folds in time, showing comparisons of different designers from different eras as well as the juxtapositions between two designers who were competitive from the same era, resulting in only one survivor. When Chanel was founded in the early 1900s, their elegance and luxe class was set to a high standard, rising above one of their biggest competitors, Patou. Since then, Chanel’s pieces such as their jewelry and tweed fabrics continue to be timeless essentials in fashion and are just as important today as they were 70 years ago.

“This exhibition will consider the ephemeral nature of fashion, employing flashbacks and fast-forwards to reveal how it can be both linear and cyclical. - Max Hollein, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

Fashion History of High End Dresses:

La Belle Époque, meaning the beautiful era, was a period of French and Western history considered to be the ‘Golden Age” of European civilization where power, politics, and influence were present. During this time, fashion took a new avenue to encompass opulence and extravagance inspired by the luxe lifestyle of royalty. This era was later influenced by designers such as Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga, who were both very much intrigued by this memorable 1870s era leading up to World War I, creating high-end dresses and pieces that exemplified aspects from La Belle Époque. These designer pieces were highly desired by women all over the world due to the fact that these midi skirts and dresses were apart of their everyday wardrobe. 

 

During the 1950s, both Dior and Balenciaga led the fashion industry by storm with their iconic dresses and design concepts, shifting how the world viewed fashion and fashion history. Bringing their own unique touch of couture to the romanticism era, Balenciaga created the “Balenciaga Hem,” which was famously used on high-end dresses, skirts, sleeves, and capes. This special hem offered a puffy skirt look which was controlled by a fitted lining layer, being very comfortable and movable to the wearer. On the other hand, Dior’s New Look was caught on the idea of long skirts, small waists, and extravagantly beautiful fabrics which later became a post World War I cultural symbol of youth, hope, and future.

AMAIÒ’s ‘Golden Era’:

Just as couture designers were heavily influenced by the age of romanticism, AMAIÒ’s aesthetic bedrock was influenced by both the couture designers of the 1950s as well as the Romantic era, reimagining the golden era of French couture for the twenty-first century. Designer Samantha Khoury, who has French-Lebanese roots but now resides in Los Angeles, favors silhouettes from a more glamorous era, with higher rises and leg cuts designed to elongate the figure, remnants of 1950s resort attire. Khoury has not only designed apres swim but has incorporated high-end dresses and skirts into every collection to offer full ready to wear ensembles for the modern belle.

Shop 1950's inspired high end dresses here.

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