The Met Gala and The Gilded Age

The 2022 Met Gala will take place on Monday 2 May in New York City. It celebrates the second volume in a two-part Costume Institute exhibition. The first, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, opened on September 18, and was preceded by the 2021 Met Gala on September 13.” From Vogue magazine, “The 2022 Met Gala theme, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, is built around the tenets of American style and celebrates unsung heroes of US design.

To read about the history of the Met Gala: History of the Met Gala: How It Turned From Fundraiser to ‘Fashion’s Biggest Night’

Review 2021 looks: See All Met Gala 2021 Best Dressed Celebrities on the Red Carpet

I visited the Met in March and walked through the first part of this exhibit.

Vogue: “At the bottom of the Met Gala invitations sent every spring is an inscription small in size but vital in importance: the dress code.”

The 2022 Met Gala dress code is Gilded Glamour.

When I first read about this dress code, I immediately thought of Bridgerton. (The first season was released on Netflix in December 2020. Season two dropped on March 25, 2022.) It turns out that this series is not part of the Gilded Age. “Based on the best-selling book series by Julia QuinnBridgerton takes place in London during the early 1800s, which is commonly known as the Regency Period. It follows the Bridgerton children as they search for true love in a competitive—and equally diverse—marriage market.” from PureWow

photo source

I think we will see red carpet looks inspired by this series even though it takes place in an earlier time period. The two time periods have a lot of overlapping trends in clothing and accessories, including corsets, gloves, hats, hair accessories, large hairstyles, and puff sleeves.

A series to watch that does take place in the correct time period (and location) is The Gilded Age on HBOmax. From HBO, “The American Gilded Age was a period of immense economic change, of great conflict between the old ways and brand new systems, and of huge fortunes made and lost. Against the backdrop of this transformation, HBO’s The Gilded Age begins in 1882 with young Marian Brook moving from rural Pennsylvania to New York City after the death of her father to live with her thoroughly old-money aunts, Agnes van Rhijn and Ada Brook.”

One Gilded Age movie to watch is The Age of Innocence starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. The 1993 movie is based on the novel by Edith Wharton who became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for this 1920 tale about a Gilded Age love triangle. 

The History of The Gilded Age

From the Smithsonian: “Between the 1870s and the dawn of the 20th century, Americans witnessed revolutions in daily life, from what they wore to how they traveled to where they resided to how they spent their leisure time. As the so-called Gilded Age took shape, transformations in technology, culture and politics ushered in modern America, for better and for worse. Mark Twain, who coined the moniker “The Gilded Age” in his 1873 novel of the same name, used it to describe the era’s patina of splendor—gilded, after all, is not gold—and the shaky foundations undergirding industrialists’ vast accumulation of wealth.

Vogue: “For the upper echelon, fashion during that period was one of excess. Thanks to recent innovations of electric and steam-powered looms, fabric became faster and cheaper to produce. As a result, women’s dresses often featured a combination of many textiles, like satin, silk, velvet, and fringe, all adorned with over-the-top textures like lace, bows, frills, and ruffles. (The unofficial edict? The more going on, the better.)”

“Colors were rich and deep jewel tones. Hats were a necessity when going out and often were adorned with feathers. Corsets were commonplace and in the 1870s to late 1880s, women embraced bustles to elongate their backsides—in fact, a commonly repeated conceit was that a bustle should be big enough to host an entire tea service.”

This print shows women wearing dresses with bustles (Library of Congress)

“That’s not to say that all Gilded Age fashion was formal. As leisure activities like bicycling and tennis became popular among the well-heeled set, sportswear, for the first time, became an integral part of one’s wardrobe. Many women adopted a shirtwaist ensemble—or a long skirt paired with a feminine blouse—which allowed for easier movement, as perhaps best exemplified by John Singer Sargent’s 1897 portrait of Gilded Age socialite Edith Minturn.”

Read more about the trends and events of the Gilded Age: The Met Gala 2022 Dress Code? Gilded Glamour BY ELISE TAYLOR

The Met Gala invite list is top secret, so part of the fun of watching the red carpet is checking out who was invited.

How to watch the Met Gala: “Fashion fans can follow all the action on Vogue’s livestream once again for 2022. The stream will start at 6 p.m. E.T. and will be broadcast live across our digital platforms (as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). The livestream will be hosted by Vogue editor at large Hamish Bowles, actor and singer Vanessa Hudgens, and actor and television personality La La Anthony.” 

If you aren’t interested in watching the event, you can see outfit updates on Twitter and Instgram (#MetGala). Follow The Met on Instagram.

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