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The Met exhibition was to be dedicated to John Galliano

But many museum members have objected

The Met exhibition was to be dedicated to John Galliano  But many museum members have objected

Before entertainment stars and luxury fashion houses turned the Met Gala into a sort of competition for the best red carpet look, the event was a "simple" dinner inaugurating the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This year, the title of the new project coordinated by Anna Wintour will be Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, but it seems to be a last-minute idea. Until last summer, Vogue US editor-in-chief and Andrew Bolton, head curator at the Met, intended to dedicate the 2024 edition to the artistic legacy of John Galliano, a project that would have finally marked the fashion industry's definitive forgiveness towards the designer who has long been at the center of a serious controversy. The exhibition on the current creative director of Maison Margiela was set aside due to the potential controversies it would have aroused among the public - according to the American publication The Cut, some members of the museum's board reportedly intervened to prevent its realization. Years after the Met's rise in pop culture, from memes about X to Youtube video reviews of the looks, the organization is facing new tensions that could signal its decline.

The idea of ​​making the Met's inauguration an event comparable in scale to the Oscars was Wintour's and Andrew Bolton's, a museum curator at the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Since 2010, the evening has become an unmissable opportunity for luxury fashion houses to raise funds for charity and at the same time gain excellent publicity. Following the success of the Met - which in turn was inspired by Diana Vreeland's stunning exhibitions at the Met in the 1970s - in recent years, countless museum institutions and fashion houses have sponsored immersive fashion exhibitions, from the renowned V+A to Palazzo Reale in Milan, from narrating Coco Chanel's early creations to Gucci's latest ones. There is no doubt that the Met is now a cornerstone of fashion curation, as well as a constant reference point for anyone wishing to create a notable Couture exhibition, but as the audience data from the latest exhibitions show, fewer and fewer people are becoming interested in Bolton's exhibitions. After record-breaking editions (three of Bolton's exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum between 2010 and 2019 are considered the most visited in history), the attendance of New York tourists at the Met has plummeted: last year, the exhibition on Van Gogh's Cypresses attracted more audience than Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, while Wintour raised donations amounting to a staggering $22 million. It could have been precisely the success on the red carpet, among luxury sponsors and celebrities, that initiated a slow self-destruction of the event.

In an interview with the New York Times in 2009, Azzedine Alaïa had said that Anna Wintour "has too much power over the museum." Too much, the designer had implied, in the sense that her decision-making power, driven by the economic capabilities of brands and her favorites, heavily influences the artistic choices of the exhibitions despite others, perhaps more deserving, who do not have enough funds to enter the editor's good graces or who she doesn’t like (including Alaïa). If already in the early 2010s, the Met's exhibitions depended so much on the "favors" of luxury houses towards the institution, we can't even imagine how much their charity for publicity purposes is worth today. The Met has seen some of the most interesting and revolutionary fashion exhibitions ever for the curation sector, from China: Through the looking glass to Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, but it seems that the entertainment empire built around the institution is about to collapse starting tonight. To find out if we are really facing the end of the Met, we will have to wait for the results of the new exhibition.