Get ready for a major Met Gala in six months’ time, as the Costume Institute just announced the theme of its annual fashion exhibition for 2020. While we knew the idea would incorporate the museum’s 150th anniversary, what exactly they would come up with was a mystery for months, and it’s about time we found out.
But really, it’s about time. “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” which sounds a bit like all the fashion theory I read in college, will explore the museum’s century-and-a-half of history by presenting clothing from its archive in a disruptive format. Read: this is not your typical chronological history, but a reimagination that juxtaposes different eras. Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator, in part took inspiration from 1992’s Orlando film, when Tilda Swinton enters a maze in 18th-century garb, then switches to 19th-century dress and reemerges in the corresponding era. With all the nostalgia in fashion, one can only imagine the connections that will arise.
What we’re all really waiting for, though, is the Met Gala, which will kick off the exhibition and simultaneously present the most over-the-top looks of the year. Rihanna, who has become the unofficial queen of this event but missed out on “Camp: Notes on Fashion” because duty (read: her Fenty Beauty empire) called, has promised to make her grand return, so anticipation is high for what she might wear. And with such a broad theme, there are so many ways she could interpret the concept of time to steal the show yet again. From referencing her own archive to playing with iconic clocks (Cogsworth!), here are seven predictions for what Rihanna will wear to the Met Gala.
Photo via Instagram / @badgalriri
When the Bad Gal made her last appearance at fashion’s biggest night in 2018, she embodied the year’s catholicism theme in the most regal way, literally arriving as the pope in a custom Margiela look. While who rules over our ticking clocks is a little more conceptual, Father Time seems like a natural progression. We can only imagine the cascading train—and perhaps a custom Valentino hood—that would make the chicest version ever of this classic figure.
The Many Eras of Rihanna
Rihanna has been in the spotlight for well over a decade, and in that time has released eight albums (where’s the ninth?) and become a prolific fashion and beauty entrepreneur. Because of this, she could take inspiration from Lady Gaga’s multi-part look by Brandon Maxwell and bring it into the realm of her own archive. A few things we would love for her to incorporate? A trendy early-aughts ensemble referencing her Music of the Sun era, a red wig to remind us of the times of Loud, and a tribute to the majestic Guo Pei cape that started her Met Gala reign. Perhaps she can do this in reverse chronological order, keeping everyone guessing about just how far back she may go.
Graphic by Lisa Paravano
Space Age feat. Fenty Beauty
Another thing that comes to mind with the concept of time is time travel, which has a strong association with the space age as a not-yet-resolved futuristic concept. This would be the perfect opportunity for Rihanna to incorporate some Fenty Beauty products—think Body Lava galore, some Mattemoiselle lipstick in an otherworldly shade of blue, and a hefty dose of Killawatt highlighter. To accompany that, she could either go with a majestic silver gown like the ones that went viral at Balenciaga Spring 2020 or something altogether campier, like a Moschino-designed Jetsons look or some alien antennas.
The theme is all about jumping through time in less-traveled ways, and with nostalgia most often tending towards recent decades—’80s, ‘90s, and early 2000s fashion are all back in big ways—Rihanna could eschew all of that and create a Met Gala look from centuries past. Thom Browne brought Marie Antoinette inspiration back for his Spring 2020 show (and we also saw similar motifs from that era at Loewe and Balenciaga), and it would surely be a show-stopping moment if the fashion and beauty mogul showed up in an impossibly high wig alongside an exaggerated version of 18th-century dress. Decadent jewelry would be a necessity, too—maybe the Tiffany diamond has its fourth-ever subject all cut out.
Photo via Instagram / @fentybeauty
Dalí’s Melting Clocks
Perhaps Rihanna could take time’s most literal symbolism and plan a look that revolves around a clock. It would fit the Met’s avant-garde nature if she channeled Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, perhaps through a collaboration with the house of Schiaparelli that would remind the world of the 1930s lobster dress. Or if she wants to really get literal, surely Jeremy Scott could alter his Picasso inspiration for Moschino to fit the iconic surrealist’s work—this way, we can pretend Rihanna was at Camp, too.
Or maybe she could collaborate with a designer to devise a chic rendition on an entirely different kind of clock: Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast. This would require a killer headpiece, along with a majorly voluminous gown. To top it off, she could either go for a working pendulum nestled in the skirt (a bit reminiscent of Janelle Monae’s look from this past year) or find a very long and fabulous piece of gold jewelry.
Over-the-Top 1920s Flapper
Beyond the Met’s 150th anniversary, 2020 will mark a century since the iconic decade of flappers and speakeasies. And while The Great Gatsby remake in 2013 briefly brought back those aesthetics and some reimagined music from the likes of Fergie and Lana Del Rey, no one could fully bring back Roaring ‘20s inspo as Rihanna could. With a sparkling flapper dress, bob wig, and oversized feather headband, the multi-hyphenate could dance the night away in style. The only thing that would make this an even bigger moment is if Karl Lagerfeld was still around to craft it at Chanel.