by Sania Ambardekar
The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Unlike other charity events, the Met Gala is invitation only and is typically based on a person’s status, attracting the likes of the A-list celebrities. This event sets the tone for the rest of the year for the fashion industry and marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s fashion exhibit; it can also be considered the fashion world equivalent of the Oscars.
Due to Covid-19 last year, the ball was postponed to September 13th this year which makes it all the more enticing. This year’s theme was to celebrate the best of American Fashion and mark the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. This theme reflects the evolving notions of identity in the country. “In looking at the past through this lens, we can consider the aesthetic and cultural impact of fashion on historical aspects of American life,” said Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French director of the Met. Celebrities are encouraged to dress explicitly outside their comfort zone which catches a lot of awe as well as criticism. The worst outfits are the boring ones: you go big or go home. Naturally, such a glamorous event cannot be complete without its controversies.
Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of the American Vogue magazine became a co-chair in 1995 and turned the red carpet event into the event of the year.
From Nicki Minaj’s complaints about the vaccination mandate to Amy Schumer’s nasty remarks about the event, they aren’t alone in disliking the Met Gala, with much of the public voicing disdain for the exclusive event as well.
In recent years, the Met has made a shift from art to pop culture by inviting reality stars, YouTubers and social media influencers. A change this drastic had to have its criticisms. Steve Soloman, a fashion design student from the 90s called it a “movie star frat house” with celebrities who just want an opportunity to show off their wealth; who couldn’t care less about the museum, exhibit or the Costume Institute.
The first name that comes to mind while talking about this year’s Met is none other than Kim Kardashian. Her look had no solid inspiration confirmed and brought about a lot of confusion, speculations and memes. Some found it iconic while others compared it to how the burqa is viewed as a sign of oppression whereas Kim’s outfit was seen as empowering, exposing a double standard. These statements were quite extreme and disputed.
On the other hand, Billie Eilish created quite a stir. It was found that she refused to wear Oscar de la Renta unless they promised to go fur-free. This was a powerful and influential moment for her as well as her fans. Kendall Jenner’s stunning sheer dresses and Katy Perry’s over the top outfit changes could not help but break the internet.
Celebrities didn’t shy away from political messages this year either with politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Cara Delevigne and others, flaunting social messages on their costumes. This was a debatable yet bold way of matching the theme. Apart from the more prominently bold outfits, some celebrities like Rihanna and Nikkie de Jager paid a tribute to Black and transgender icons.
An event of such a scale brings together not only fashion but also music, film and art. Whether it’s the bold or questionable choices or even the crashers, The Met is the night to make a statement, turn heads, cause Twitter moments and make global headlines and let’s be honest, the controversies just add to the hype. If there’s one guarantee it’s that The Met will have us talking long after it’s over. Above all, it is a fundraiser that raises millions of dollars, specifically for the fashion department and helps celebrate the rich history of fashion.