When the Met Gala Carson Wentz Wentzington DC Shirt makes its return. To 5th Avenue on the first Monday in May, expect a great deal of glitz and turn-of-the-century glamour. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute announced it will stage “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” as the second installment of September 2021’s Met Gala “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” But New York Times’ Chief Fashion Critic Vanessa Friedman revealed earlier this week that this year’s theme could be interchangeably called “Gilded Glamour.” Two words have never inspired much speculation as visions of Gilded Age attire have left the internet divided between literal interpretations of the era’s patina of luxury and more historical references. The period was deemed gilded, not golden. That is, thinly veiled with grand delusions. This American epoch (derived from Mark Twain’s 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today) spanned the years between the Civil War and the turn of the twentieth century. It was a period of corruption, income inequality, and laissez-faire capitalism obscured by excessive materialism and ostentatious displays of vanity. Fashion, as a self-reflection, was a seamless extension of one’s wealth.
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Though family names like Carson Wentz Wentzington DC Shirt Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie are most often associated with the “robber baron” monopolists of that time, women of the same lineage are significantly linked to America’s fashion history. And their status was on full display at the Vanderbilt Ball of 1883. Rumored to have cost USD 250,000 (approximately $7 million today, or CAD 8.8 million), the ball welcomed New York’s glitterati by the hundreds in their most delicate garments, hosted by Alva Vanderbilt, granddaughter-in-law to family patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt. It resembled today’s Met Gala with grand surroundings, a socialite-centric crowd, and costumes by coveted designers demanding attention. While Alva posed with live doves dressed as a Venetian princess, family member Alice Vanderbilt wore a golden “Electric Light” ensemble embroidered with a lightning bolt and starburst motifs. Designed by the “father of haute couture,” Paris-based Charles Frederick Worth, Alice’s costume conveyed a deeper meaning. Accessorized with a battery-powered torch in hand, her getup screamed wealth, privilege, and status at a time when few households had access to Thomas Edison’s light bulb invention.