Coronavirus Impact on Fashion

ALL IN DUE TIME: Like legions of companies, museums and cultural institutions around the globe, initial temporary closings triggered by the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will keep its doors closed to the public until July 1. That shuttering has also pushed back the calendar for the opening of its Costume Institute’s “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”

What was to be a spring exhibition is now scheduled to be unveiled in late October and will run through February 2021. How this time shift will affect the Met Gala remains to be seen. A statement issued by a museum spokeswoman Monday night said, “The timing of the Met Gala is still under discussion. As we have shared, the museum will remain closed to the public and staff until July 1, based on what we are hearing from the CDC and city, state and federal leaders.”

“About Time” was meant to be an anchor part of The Met’s 150th anniversary. While the celebrity-studded extravaganza serves as the leading fund-raiser for the museum, the Met is facing financial challenges. In an interview last week with The Art Newspaper, The Met president and chief executive officer Daniel Weiss said he anticipated the museum to incur a deficit of $60 million in the fiscal year ending on June 30 and an additional $40 million in the following fiscal year, as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The shortfall was first reported by The New York Times. Layoffs are reportedly also in store for the museum’s 2,200-person staff.

With cost cutting already a reflexive action for many companies and corporations to the COVID-19 crisis, philanthropy and sponsorships indubitably will be impacted as well. Another factor in a few months time may be the public’s interest in a high-rolling black-tie event, in the midst of such economic upheaval. Regardless, Louis Vuitton is making “About Time” possible with additional support from Condé Nast.

In the meantime, the Costume Institute’s chief curator in charge Andrew Bolton and his team will continue to execute all that is needed to bring together “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” a century and a half timeline that will feature 120 fashions in two adjacent galleries imagined as enormous clock faces and organized around 60 minutes of fashion. Each minute, so to speak, will feature a pair of garments — the primary work representing the linear nature of fashion and the secondary work showing its cyclical character.

The exhibition employs Henri Bergson’s concept of “la durée,” or duration, and will explore how clothes generate temporal associations that conflate past, present and future. Virginia Woolf will serve as the show’s ghost narrator.

On another front, The Met announced Tuesday #CongressSaveCulture, a campaign to support broader efforts advocating for financial relief for nonprofit arts organizations to be included in the U.S. government’s proposed nearly $3 trillion stimulus package. The Met is calling on the federal government to include at least $4 billion for financially at-risk nonprofit arts organizations.

Read more from WWD:

The Met Gala Has Been Postponed

Met Gala 2019: The Good, the Bad and the Camp

Bridget Foley’s Diary: Met Musing

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