The Old Gateway by Thomas Edwin Mostyn

On February 15, Vogue announced the co-chairs for The Met Gala 2024 with a video of an iMessage group chat. The video features this year’s co-chairs, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Zendaya, and Anna Wintour, discussing their availability and inspiration for The Met Gala.

“Hello. Are you all free, Monday, May 6th?” Anna Wintour says in the video to exclamation point reactions. After everyone says they’re in (come on, Chris. We don’t keep Anna Wintour waiting), Bad Bunny sends some questionable inspo for the “The Garden of Time” theme in an AI-art-style album cover reimagining of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” Her response? “Not quite.” Met Gala veteran J Lo is on top of it, though, sending a dreamy Victorian oil painting of a garden scene. With a “Yes!” from Anna, we are Met Gala approved.

But what is this painting and what does it tell us about “The Garden of Time” or The Met Gala 2024 dress code? We dug in to find out about this high fashion inspo to give you all of the details.

Titled “The Old Gateway,” the painting was created by Thomas Edwin Mostyn. An English impressionist, our friend Thomas is known for his romantic garden scenes and portraits created during the late Victorian era and early 20th century. While he is not a painter that your average viewer will immediately recognize like Van Gogh or Picasso, Mostyn made a success of his art during his lifetime, exhibiting paintings at the Royal Academy and holding solo exhibitions in London. Among his contemporaries were Monet, Degas, Cassatt, and Morisot.

The era of Impressionist art was known for natural light and beauty. We see this in paintings of rolling fields and vibrant Victorian gardens. Sotheby’s auction house highlights the composition of Impressionist paintings. “While the content of Impressionist paintings was not all that radical, the composition was. The boundary between figures and background were blurred, making the figures a part of an overall view rather than the main subject, and the figures appeared to be captured in a single moment – as a snapshot – rather than posed.” This is not dissimilar from The Met’s description of the forthcoming Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion exhibit which is supported by The Met Gala. Sleeping Beauties will feature four centuries of fashion on view. The approximately 250 artifacts will be “visually united by iconography related to nature, which will serve as a metaphor for the fragility and ephemerality of fashion.”

Water Lilies by Claude Monet

Nature, life, death, and capturing movement in the everday are often what is to be appreciated in the tranquility of Impressionist paintings like Monet’s “Water Lilies” or Degas’ paintings of ballerinas. Looking at “The Old Gateway,” we can see many of these things, the vibrance of the flowers in the garden and the way they shape the world around the woman in a blue dress standing in the gateway. She looks out into what appears to a dark forest beyond the garden. Looking out, the light disappears, and the world is reduced to darker, less defined shapes, more mystery. Crossing the boundaries of time, Sleeping Beauties will be a kind of “old gateway,” bringing forth old fashions to be experienced by modern viewers in ways that transcend the ability for designs to stay in or out of style or for fabric to unravel and decay.

Looking at “The Old Gateway” as inspiration, we can see the ways that “The Garden of Time” aims for The Met Gala 2024 to not only be a celebration of cutting-edge or avant garde fashion and new technology but also a nod to the life left in fashion’s history. We hope that some of the designs worn by this year’s celebrity guests will feature the sleeping beauties of fashion, cultural moments, textures, styles, and displays of natural beauty that may have otherwise been forgotten to time. How can we balance Victorian florals with the sharp edges of today’s technology or the shapelessness of Impressionism with an intense desire for modern individualism? This theme will put that to the test of the designers.

The Met Gala 2024 will take place at The Met Fifth Avenue in New York City Monday, May 6.

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.