What Is the "Garden of Time," the Inspiration for Tonight's Met Gala Dress Code?

What Is the "Garden of Time," the Inspiration for Tonight's Met Gala Dress Code?


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It's the first Monday in May, which means it's Met Gala time.

This year's event celebrates the "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion"Costume Institute exhibit, which will display around 250 garments and accessories from the past 400 years, "united by iconography related to nature."

"The exhibition will breathe new life into these storied objects through creative and immersive activations designed to convey the smells, sounds, textures, and motions of garments that can no longer directly interact with the body," explains the Metropolitan Museum.

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Tonight's dress code takes its inspiration from J.G. Ballard's short story "The Garden of Time," originally published in 1962. (You can now read it in The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard.) Ballard is perhaps best known for his 1984 novel Empire of the Sun (adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg), inspired by his time as a boy during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai, but in the "Garden of Time," aristocrats Count Axel and his wife live in a villa besieged by an advancing mob. They do not worry about the "approaching rabble," instead staying in their home and listening to Mozart, because surrounding their villa is an exquisite garden with magical crystal flowers. Each night, Axel plucks a flower, turning back time and pushing the horde of people back, until all the flowers are gone.

"I think the main task of the science fiction writer is to write about his own present," Ballard said in a speech in 1969, "and when he does this, science fiction will at last come of age, and one will have a vital literature, for the first time, that is wholly concerned with the present—and will be that much more real for it."

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