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Inside “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” With Andrew Bolton

Opening the exhibition on the heels of New York Fashion Week helps each garment feel even more alive. So does Bolton’s curation, which focuses on young or emerging designers and runway collections from the past seven-ish years. These are pieces that will still hang in visitors’ memories: Bella Hadid’s 2020 Off-White x Arc’teryx gown, Vittoria Ceretti’s black dress from Tom Ford’s spring 2018 show, the poncho Ariel Nicholson wore in Gabriela Hearst’s fall 2021 video. Bolton says the curation may even change as the exhibition stays on view—American fashion is, after all, a living document.

Gallery View, BelongingPhoto: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gallery View, ComfortPhoto: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

To explore the way clothes make us, as Americans feel, is to engage with the uglier bits of Americanness too. Bolton has contrasted four American flag sweaters in a gallery: Tommy Hilfiger’s and Ralph Lauren’s represent optimism, while Willy Chavarria’s has the flag upside down, stars falling off it, and Denim Tears’s version is of the African American flag. A flag-print dress from LRS closes that section, printed with the words “Stronger Together.”

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