NEW YORK – Fashion – and New York – is making a comeback.
Intricate designs abounded Monday night at the Met Gala, the annual fundraising event for the Costume Institute’s exhibit held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which wrapped up a whirlwind week in the city that included New York Fashion Week and the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday in Brooklyn.
The red carpet for the annual gala – which typically takes place on the first Monday in May, but has been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic – is billed as fashion’s biggest night, and Monday’s event featured Rihanna , Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and more dressed in the looks of the biggest designers, posing in the middle of the flashes of cameras on the steps of the museum.
But all the bright lights and glitter raise questions: Is the Met Gala what it once was? Do people still care? And should they?
The answers are complicated.
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This year’s theme of “American Independence” is associated with the premiere of the Costume Institute’s two-part exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which “uses the organizing principle of a patchwork quilt. And “served as a metaphor for the United States and its diverse cultural identities,” as the Met describes. The theme of the Met Gala has been largely ignored or misunderstood (as it has in most years).
During NYFW, hints of Americana were sprinkled in a subtle way right up to the main event. Brandon Maxwell’s show opened with the song “Be Your USA” x EASYFUN feat. Iiris, and its finale featured Van Morrison’s “And the Healing Has Begun”.
Designer Prabal Gurung’s show had the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop, and he asked in the show’s notes, “What is the American?” For many participants, the resounding confusion was clear and disappointing – albeit an accurate description of where we are as a country, failing to speak the same fairness language.
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Fashion has proven to be a form of escape and luxury, a necessary outlet for the imagination and joy through inevitably difficult times. Fashion and its key players and influencers have also helped to illustrate the widening divide of inequity, elitism and racism as the pandemic continues and the country is engulfed in various tragedies.
What could have been a night of subversive fashion statements was rather frivolous in the face of the world imploding around us and ultimately disappointing, exemplified in part by police arresting protesters just outside the Met as celebrities crawled around. an evening of opulence.
Few of the participants went beyond uninspired (but beautiful) looks. Crystal-embellished outfits, fur and feather clothing, and quasi-ball gowns were standard on the Met Gala carpet.
Bright spots included Lupita Nyong’o, draped in a Versace denim dress and sporting a hairstyle inspired by Brooklyn-born concept artist Lorna Simpson; Yara Shahidi, channeling Josephine Baker in a vintage-style beaded Dior dress; Indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse, whose presence – and the look adorned with turquoise and silver – brought representation to the gala; Gemma Chan, whose Gurung-designed outfit paid tribute to Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong; even Lopez and Maluma, leaning over the yeehaw agenda with western-themed looks from Ralph Lauren and Versace, respectively.
Fans and critics alike have tune in to watch the red carpet and see footage from the night on social media, though they have mixed mindsets with what they saw.
On Twitter, user @parasocialyte wrote that “overall, this year’s met gala was just disappointing. the theme was vague, the outfits were everywhere, and it just didn’t live up to the last two galas other than a few standout outfits. ” Another tweet from user @vxctorvale called the Met Gala “The greatest confidence booster because the next time you feel ugly in your clothes just remember what the celebrities on the list were wearing today.”
There were still a few excited for the event: @ veryrare1717 Tweet, “I love seeing everyone’s outfits for the Met Gala, it’s like a celebrity ball.” Twitter user @CynthetikGaming wrote, “I’m not gonna lie, I never look forward to it (mostly because I completely forget about it), but damn, I really love Met Gala. Looking at all the crazy dresses and outfits is so much fun.”
When fashion doesn’t say something important or create a moment of meaning, it’s not at its best – and people shouldn’t have to engage in boring or rote fashion, especially if it doesn’t add anything to the conversation.
The fashion industry has long touted its exclusivity, and the Met Gala is no different. But the most inventive fashion moments have often occurred on the fringes of society, rather than at an event often centered on wealthy, cisgender whites. The Met Gala has always had its flaws, but people are paying more attention to it through the dissection of the event on social media.
The exhibition “Fashion Lexicon” is intended to anticipate the generation of designers and a new understanding of fashion, which has shifted towards more accessibility, inclusiveness and egalitarian ideas about who can benefit and benefit. of fashion.
Formula 1 world champion Lewis hamilton put his money where it was, forking out the cost of a table at the event (where individual tickets can cost over $ 30,000) and inviting emerging black designers Kenneth Nicholson, Theophilio and Jason Rembert to as guests. Billie Eilish used her platform to convince Oscar de la Renta to stop using fur. With their presence, NikkieTutorials, Barbie Ferreira, Leyna Bloom, Valentina Sampaio, Precious Lee, and Elliot Page championed size inclusiveness and trans portrayal, which were historically excluded and ignored at the gala.
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To praise and some criticism, Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn B. Maloney sparked conversations about the privilege with their statement gowns (the AOC gown was adorned with a statement saying “tax the rich” while Maloney’s dress demanded equal rights for women.) Cara Delevingne and Dan Levy wore outfits that rejected patriarchy and heteronormativity.
The upcoming Met Gala in May will draw on the past, corresponding to the second and largest part of the “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibit. Looking back, organizers and guests would do well to note where fashion has managed to create a dialogue around what it means to be American – not just for an elite at the top, but for everyone.
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