Words By Monica Garcia
As an opportunity to fund the newly founded Costume Institute, fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert established ‘The Met Gala’ in 1984 – this marked the opening for the Costume Institute’s annual exhibit. As the years went on, The Met Gala became one of the many annual benefits held for New York’s charitable institutions, where attendees consisted mostly of New York elites (‘high society’), or New York’s fashion industry.
In 1972, Diana Vreeland was announced consultant to the Costume Institute, evolving the Gala further: it was now being held at The Met, (in previous years it was held at venues such as Waldorf-Astoria, Central Park and the Rainbow Room), themes were introduced, and celebrities, such as Diana Ross and Elton John, began to intermix with New York’s elite.
Presently, The Met Gala has named itself a major fundraising benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Tickets for individuals outside the guest list to attend The Met Gala cost $30,000 at the least, as a way to ensure exclusivity. Reportedly, table prices can start from $275,000. As one of the most exclusive social events in the world, it has become a notable source of funding, especially since Anna Wintour’s chairmanship, accumulating $200 million overall for the institution.
Yearly, The Met Gala themes take over all conversation when it comes to the fashion world, setting the tone for the annual exhibit. It allows guests to show their interpretation of the year’s theme through their choice of dress. Recently, The Met Gala has been heavily critiqued on their choice of themes – they are gradually getting more and more boring. But this raises the question: are the themes boring, or are the celebrities just not meeting the assignment?
This year’s theme ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’ was very broad. It did not put a limit on creativity and allowed for guests to take on many directions with their fashion choices. The Met Gala is an event where you can go all out, and whilst some exceeded expectations, others only settled for the bare minimum.
Supermodel, Iman, looked nothing less than a Goddess, glowing in her Harris Reed X Dolce & Gabbana bustier and trousers, completed with a feather cage overskirt and matching headpiece. You also have Billie Eilish, who paid an ode to Marilyn Monroe, with her change from green to short blonde hair, and a gorgeous Oscar De La Renta soft peach gown. She perfectly executed a Holiday Barbie.
Now, you definitely cannot talk about this year’s theme without mentioning Kim Kardashian’s outfit. Designed by Kanye West in collaboration with Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, Kardashian sported an all-black outfit, completely covered from head to toe, along with a train at the back. It was definitely something ‘out there’ to wear, erupting conversation on what it was meant to represent. Of course, Kardashian became the centre of memes with countless comparisons to The Sims and even Harry Potter. However, some analysed the symbolic meaning behind the outfit, “Kim herself is the epitome of American Culture; famous for being famous. She didn’t have to wear ‘anything’ because she is recognisable no matter what. Very Clever” (@maxkilworth on Twitter). Kardashian then took to Instagram to caption her outfit, “What’s more American than a T-shirt head to toe?!”
Whilst these attendees brought excitement and innovation, others need to be named and shamed. With Shawn Mendes in a Michael Kors black leather jacket and matching trousers, to Channing Tatum in a classic Versace tuxedo. Comparing these to previous iconic outfits, such as Rihanna’s 2015 sherbet yellow robe or Zendaya’s 2019 inspired Cinderella look, where is their creativity? Most significantly, where is their effort?
At the end of the day, the outfits and the theme were very subjective. Although to many it may have not compared to previous themes such as ‘Heavenly Bodies’, or ‘Manus X Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology’, this year’s theme was still very inviting and open to many different interpretations. So, is it right to just solely blame the theme, or can we also hold some guests accountable for their poor fashion choices?
But not only should we talk about The Met Gala themes, but also their range in attendees now on the guest list. The guest list has widened to include influencers, as well as celebrities.
Take Addison Rae, for example. A young woman who climbed her way to fame through 10-second videos of her dancing on TikTok. Is she the kind of person that Eleanor Lambert envisioned attending The Met Gala in the future? People took to Twitter to express their opinions on Rae, “pls why is addison rae at THE MET GALA??? supposedly the most exclusive and prestigious fashion event in the us???? explain it please” (@mrssworldwide on Twitter).
Understandably, today’s guest list must incorporate ‘influencers’ and ‘celebrities’ that would bring more recognition to the event, however, there is no doubt that their recent choice of attendees is notably jeopardising their exclusive and prestigious image, which is what The Met Gala is originally and prominently known for. Surely, The Met Gala can distinguish the difference between inviting Addison Rae and someone like Beyonce?
Damaging their image will simply begin to turn The Met Gala into the epitome of boring, regardless of the theme.