"About Time" by Andrew Bolton

About Time Fashion and Duration Andrew Bolton, Michael Cunningham

Publication date:
19 May 2020
Metropolitan Museum of Art
304 pages: 330 x 241mm
200 color illus.
Sales territories:

Traces fashions from 1870 to the present along a conceptual, disruptive, and nontraditional timeline of fashion history

Fashion not only reflects and represents the spirit of the times, it also changes and develops with the times. About Time takes as its starting point the 1870s—when major developments in the establishment of standard time shifted the measurement of time from the local to the global—and examines the temporal impulses of fashion over 150 years to the present.

Sections combining thought-provoking texts and newly commissioned photography explore the fugitive rhythm of fashion governed by the shared experience of “objective time,” measured by the clock and calendar, and the personal experience of “subjective time,” expressed through clothes that mark events of a person’s life. Fashion is examined through the lenses of the marginal, the minority, and the postcolonial, advancing the concept of time as a metaphor for difference.

Fashions created after the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 are explored through the postmodern concepts of volatility, multiplicity, immediacy, and disposability. While fashion has embraced and benefited from the around-the-clock potentialities of digital capitalism, it has also suffered from its unquenchable functioning. Addressing this negation of time, the book concludes with a section on the future of fashion, which advocates for a slowing down of fashion, and a re-emphasis on the values inherent in its creation and consumption.

Andrew Bolton is the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Michael Cunningham is best known as the author of The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(May 4–September 7, 2020)