Jill Biden Kicks Off Met Gala With Preview of 'In America' Exhibit

The first lady delivered remarks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's press launch for the spring Costume Institute exhibition, In America: An Anthology of Fashion

First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden
Jill Biden. Photo: John Angelillo/UPI/Shutterstock

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on Monday kicked off a preview of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" exhibition ahead of this evening's Met Gala. Prior to taking a tour of the exhibit, Dr. Biden delivered remarks about the importance of fashion, saying "style helps us express things that can't be put in words."

"No matter the words we choose or the speeches we give, the world sees the totality of who we are," Biden, 70, said. "The way we carry ourselves, how we put our shoulders back when times are hard, or offer a friendly smile even when we don't agree. How we choose to show up for our communities—the small acts of kindness that are remembered long after they are offered."

She continued: "And that includes what we wear."

During her remarks, Dr. Biden touched on the role that fashion plays in politics, speaking specifically about the dress she wore during her husband's first State of the Union address — which offered a subtle nod to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

"As the State of the Union approached, I knew the only thing that would be reported about me was what I was wearing," Biden said. "So, I ordered sunflower appliqués—the flower of Ukraine and a symbol of hope and solidarity—and had one sewn on the cuff of my dress. It was small—but it shined against the deep cobalt-blue of my sleeve."

First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden
Jill Biden. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty

She continued: "And that night, sitting next to the Ukrainian ambassador, I knew I was sending a message without saying a word: that Ukraine was in our hearts—and that we stood with them."

Dr. Biden noted that, later this week, she'll head to Romania and Slovakia to visit with American troops and "spend Mother's Day with Ukrainian families who've been displaced by Putin's war."

"As we celebrate the designers and the fashion that has shaped the very identity of America, I hope it will inspire all of us to keep learning," she said. "I hope it will help us to see the beauty and art that surrounds us every day. And most importantly, I hope it will remind us to be bold and brave."

Following her remarks, the First Lady toured the exhibition with Met Museum interns and curators in a private tour that was closed to press.

The 2022 theme serves as a part two to last year's "A Lexicon of Fashion" and pays homage to the diversity of American fashion.

The official exhibit will be on display across 13 of the American period rooms in the historic museum from May 7 through Sept. 5.

Guests are being asked to interpret a "Gilded Glamour" white-tie dress code for Monday night's Met Gala, which will channel the time period between 1870 to 1890, according to Vogue.

Dr. Biden will not be attending the evening festivities, and instead will host a celebration of Eid al-Fitr with her husband, President Joe Biden.

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