The story behind the Met Gala’s Great Oak Centerpiece

This year, when guests enter the 2021 Met Gala, they will gaze at a tall oak tree made from recycled materials, surrounded by a wild field of wheatgrass.

The centerpiece is by floral designer Raúl Àvila, who collaborated on the creation with landscape artist Miranda Brooks. While in years gone by, the Great Hall housed ornate and eerie structures – think of the giant flamingos for Camp: Fashion Notes or the enormous papal crown for Celestial bodies: Catholic fashion and imagination – this year’s coin is majestic and striking.

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Because, of course, this event is not like the past years. For starters, the Met Gala 2021 takes place on the second Monday in September instead of the traditional first Monday in May. Last spring, New York was barely beginning a cautious re-emergence after a second winter wave of Covid-19. The previous spring, the city was the epicenter of the pandemic. This is the Costume Institute’s first fundraiser since their party in 2019.

“In the past, the long-awaited first Monday in May was a joyous spring celebration of fine arts, fashion and the meeting of industries,” said Àvila. “All of the elements of this inspiring evening not only had to be reinvented for the fall season for the first time, but also translated into a post-containment reality.”

So how do you visually recognize a solemn past while celebrating a brighter future – while honoring the theme of the night, In America: a fashion lexicon?

Well, with an oak tree.

The oak is the national tree of the United States and is almost as diverse as the population of the United States: There are 60 different species of oaks that grow from coast to coast. Its wood is hard and resistant, its branches sprawling and shaded. “The centerpiece of the Great Hall 2021 is the metaphorical manifestation of the strength and endurance rooted in the American people,” says Àvila. The centerpiece is surrounded by a rug decorated with fall leaves, representing both the Met Gala’s fall debut as well as the changing of the seasons – a sign that life and time still go on.

During curation In America: a fashion lexicon, curator Andrew Bolton focused on emerging designers and recent runway collections. (“American fashion is, after all, a living document”, Vogue‘s Steff Yotka wrote about the exhibit.) As you walk into the Great Hall and gaze at the oak, an old adage apt for these young designers comes to mind: “Mighty oaks grow from little acorns. . “

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