NEW YORK (AP) — The annual hoopla around the celebrity-studded Met Gala is so intense, it’s often forgotten who the real star is: the fashion exhibit inside.

This year, it’s the only star. A stylish Costume Institute show at the Metropolitan Museum has opened, six months behind schedule. But what’s six months when you’re covering 150 years of fashion?

And that’s the point, in more ways than one, of “About Time: Fashion & Duration,” which explores the concept of fashion through time. Time is a flexible concept, it argues. It is not linear, at least not where fashion is concerned. Ideas revisit themselves through the decades, even the centuries.

That was the central concept even before the exhibit, traditionally launched by the Met Gala in May, was waylaid by the pandemic — which changed everything, including our concept of time. (How many times have you heard someone ask what day or month it is?)

So the fact that “About Time” was able to open at all is cause for celebration. As the Met’s director, Max Hollein, said in opening remarks: “We could not imagine, when we chose the name for this exhibition more than a year ago, how apt the title would become.”

Of course, everything is different this year. Instead of speaking in person at the annual press preview, Hollein and curator Andrew Bolton spoke virtually, and masked, in taped remarks. And crowd size is being restricted, in accordance with guidelines for museums — likely not a bad thing in terms of the viewing experience.

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