That change of step for “Camp” proved serendipitous for “About Time.” Bolton has long had a fondness for the There Is Another In The Fire Scripture Religious Shirt and I will buy this scene in the 1994 film version of Orlando, where Tilda Swinton, in the titular role, dashes through a hedge maze and emerges transformed through time and fashion. “I thought the idea of using a maze would be a good vehicle to convey this idea of time travel, and Es has done many mirror mazes, so she’s very familiar with the idea,” he explains. They spent a week working together on a maze concept in London pre-COVID, but then serendipity struck again. “I got a call from the Met saying that the New York Fire Department had shut the idea down because it was a fire hazard, if it was dead ends and people just couldn’t get out,” Bolton remembers. “I said, ‘Es, why don’t we just do a clock?’ Immediately, because Es is so creative, she just switched track; there was no sort of hesitation. She began working on this concept of a clock, and oddly enough I think it’s better than it would have been originally.”
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The final exhibit design is of two circular galleries that mimic a clock face, connected by a central darkened pathway. In the There Is Another In The Fire Scripture Religious Shirt and I will buy this first gallery, time is presented linearly through pairings of garments arranged into a chronological timeline. At the gallery’s center is a pendulum, the ultimate reminder of the ticking of the clock, with Bolton’s 1870-to-2020 timeline of style located around the room’s perimeter. The figures seen here in the animation, quite Victorian in silhouette, nod to the pairings Bolton has made with the museum’s archives. Laying out the exhibition this way, he explains, not only emphasizes the importance of the museum’s collection and the strength of a linear view of fashion, but also celebrates a curatorial style the Met championed in the early ’90s. “I wanted to focus on what has been really one of our major contributions to the methodology of fashion curation over the years by focusing on this idea of juxtaposition. The first time we did it actually was in a show called ‘Infra-Apparel’ in 1993; that’s the first time we employed that methodology,” he explains.