In an unnamed place and time, a majestic villa overlooks a garden of delicate, glass-stemmed flowers. Home to Count Axel and the Countess, the otherwise elegant landscape is unsettled by a dark blot on the horizon. It is an army of furious workers, drawing nearer day by day. To slow its approach, Axel plucks the time flowers from his garden; each one dissolves in a burst of light which rewinds time itself, and so the threatening horde shifts back on the skyline. This solution, however, is only temporary. The garden of time is faltering, the flowers are almost all gone, and the masses will soon arrive to take their long-awaited revenge.

This is the premise of The Garden of Time, a 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard. Previously lesser-known, the work of science fiction has recently been propelled into the limelight due to its nomination as the theme for the 2024 Met Gala. So why was this tale chosen? How might it influence celebrity fashion? And what can they – and we – learn from it? {read}