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met gala theme 2024

Sleeping Beauties: The Dresses That Inspired The 2024 Met Gala Theme “The Garden of Time”

These stunning dresses from The Met Gala exhibit “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” inspired the 2024 Met Gala Theme “The Garden of Time.”

The Met Gala is set to occur on Monday, May 6 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, marking the debut of the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” The star-studded guest list is encouraged to adhere to this year’s theme, “The Garden of Time,” which was inspired by the exhibition. In anticipation of the stunning looks that will adorn the red carpet, we delved into the rare and beautiful garments of the exhibit and they do not disappoint.

“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” Exhibit

The Met Gala theme “The Garden of Time,” is the perfect, poetic ode to The Sleeping Beauties exhibit that will have roughly 250 unique and rare garments and accessories spanning four centuries, all connected through motifs of nature. These elements symbolize the delicacy and transient nature of fashion, exploring themes of rebirth and renewal. To bring these historic items back to life, the exhibit will feature innovative and engaging activations that recreate the scents, sounds, textures, and movements of garments.

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, explained to Vogue that the exhibit includes 50 of the most significant and beautiful pieces from the Met’s permanent collection. “The thing is, they’re too fragile to actually be worn again: “These are the ‘Sleeping Beauties’ of the title,” he said.

The inspiration behind the exhibit comes from an 1877 silk satin ballgown designed by Charles Frederick Worth. This and many other pieces will be displayed next to more modern items, illustrating the evolution of design. With iconic garments covering 400 years of history, many of which have never been publicly displayed before. “It is very much an ode to nature and the emotional poetics of fashion,” he added, noting the emphasis on sustainability and innovation in the contemporary pieces.

In exciting anticipation of this Spring’s Met Gala 2024, here’s a sneak peek of our editors’ top five favorite dresses from the “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” Exhibit. 

Our Favorites

1/5 Robe à la française

A Stunning Display of Baroque Opulence.

We can’t get over the intricate detailing of this breathtaking dress. This mid-century robe à la française exemplifies the lavish style of the era with its hand-painted silk and layers of ornamental detailing. The dress features a rich blend of Orientalism and is a stunning display of the baroque extravagance of the time, highlighted by endless layers of floral adornments and silk flowers that terrace out from the two-dimensional textile.

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

2/5 Dress by House of Paquin

Blooming Poppies with Spanish Flair.

There is something so special about the vibrant display of poppies on this gown. As one of our editors noted, “The sleeves bring just the right amount of drama.” Established by Isidore and Jeanne Paquin, the house of Paquin gained a significant international reputation. In 1936, Ana de Pombo, a former Chanel associate, became the creative director and revitalized the brand by infusing her personal experiences into her designs. Her notable 1937 collection, dubbed “Spanish dancer evening gowns,” featured dramatic lace, layers, and peplum details. A standout dress from this collection, adorned with vibrant poppies, skillfully echoed the tiered ruffles of a flamenco dancer’s costume.

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

3/5 May Dress by House of Dior

A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

While this delicate dress is entitled “May,” we think it’s giving “a Midsummer Night’s Dream” with its ethereal whimsy. When designing this dress, Dior used silk floss to craft blooming grasses and wild clover on organza. This “simple” meadow motif, appearing almost overgrown, is intricately crafted with tiny French knots and precisely executed stitches by skilled hand embroiderers. This suggests that for Dior, true beauty is found in rustic simplicity.

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

4/5 Oriane Dress by Balmain

An elegant resurgence of the 18th century.

We included the “Oriane” dress from House Balmain not only for its understated elegance but also its significance in the dix-huitièm revival in the 1950s which sparked a resurgence of eighteenth-century design elements in modern clothing. This revival was heavily influenced by Christian Dior’s “New Look” silhouette, which was introduced in 1947 and emphasized a romantic, ultra-feminine aesthetic reminiscent of the Rococo and late Baroque styles of the 1700s. Designers like Jacques Fath, Cristobal Balenciaga, and the understated Pierre Balmain each uniquely interpreted this period. For Balmain, known for his subtlety, the eighteenth century was encapsulated in this masterpiece through the quiet opulence of rich fabrics and intricate embroidery. 

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

5/5 Ensemble by Alexander McQueen

One-hundred butterfly wings and counting.

After working alongside Alexander McQueen for fourteen years, Sarah Burton ascended to the role of creative director in 2010 following the untimely passing of her mentor. Burton’s debut collection, which delved into themes of nature, paganism, and English folklore, demonstrated her capability to continue the legacy of artistry and innovation that has been a hallmark of the house since its inception. One standout piece from this collection, an hourglass-shaped dress, showcases an ornate shell of faux butterflies without relying on boning or internal support for its structure. The dress features hundreds of wings meticulously crafted from cut, dyed, and painted feathers, arranged by hand to mimic the iconic pattern of the monarch butterfly. This motif, a recurring symbol within the house, embodies the theme of transformative renewal.

dress inspired met gala theme 2024 the garden of time

The “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” exhibition is on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from May 10, 2024 to September 2, 2024. Until then, we await the iconic looks at the 2024 Met Gala.