What is the Met Gala?
The Met Gala or Met Ball, more formally known as the Costume Institute Benefit, is a charity red carpet event held each year on the first Monday of May at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a chairwoman of the event, Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour invites an exclusive selection of influential people including those from the film, music, and modelling industry. Alongside these attendees are designers, performers, and importantly photographers.
The hype begins with a theme…
Every year, as a theme is set for the Met Gala, the hype for the event begins across media outlets. Coverage from a massive number of magazines, from ELLE to Business Insider, begins with articles titled ‘Everything You Need to Know about This Year’s Met Gala Theme’ soon after the theme is announced.
The hype generally continues, and in fact remains for a few weeks after the event itself. Readers of the magazines, despite it being unlikely that they will witness the event in person, will engage with this content in anticipation of the innovative, high-fashion outfits they know they are likely to see from the invitees.
The media play a massive part in how the Met Gala is presented to the general public as an expression of fashion. Despite the wealth and elite that is associated with an invite to the Met Gala, us regular people are excited to see the outfits as though we, ourselves, are attending. If media outlets will plan their content around the Gala, it feels appropriate that we set aside time to engage with the event.
Maybe we should clear our calendars too, so we can gain our own opinion and add to the discussion?
We are part of it
Of course, after the event, when the paparazzi pictures are released, a sense of inclusivity begins as we start rating outfits and commenting on who made the biggest statement. Common criticisms may be for those who didn’t adhere to the theme or dressed a little too ‘basic’ for a red-carpet look. Platforms like Buzzfeed will often encourage us to complete online quizzes: ‘Which Met Gala outfit are you?’ This allows us to imagine what we would wear, if ever in the rare position to attend.
It is no surprise, then, that the Met Gala is so world-renowned. People will often hear about it before they are invited, or hear about it before they’ve ever seen an outfit.
‘When I was growing up, the Met Gala was, for me, one of those mystical things that people just dream about but never actually experience. The first time I really, really became obsessed with it was the year when Kate Moss went with Marc Jacobs and she had that turban on. It was just such a memorable moment for me, because Kate was such a British icon for me. That picture went everywhere. I definitely remember seeing it in the newspapers, and that’s when I realized the power of fashion.’Rita Ora, singer
Word of mouth, with such an event, is integral to the spectacle it is. It could be said that the media, and eventually the public’s buzz, make the event what it is. It’s difficult to imagine the event without the two.
Ultimately, we get inspiration from seeing what the elite are wearing. The outfits are not financially inclusive. The general public don’t have access to designers. Yet fashion is a massively important aspect of celebrity culture. We care what they wear. In fact, even if the inspiration only comes from viewing their hair and make-up, it’s still worth the view. Before social media, we might have cut out an image from a magazine to show our hairdresser. Flicking through magazines, whether physical or digital, we can all admit there has been an outfit which has intrigued us – fashion enthusiast or not.
When I was around 12, Sofia [Coppola] introduced me to the fashion world; I met Marc Jacobs and got to campaign with him and I met the Rodarte sisters. It was probably the year before I got invited that I became aware. I was definitely a fashion junkie myself. I would always look at Style.com and drag all the models’ photos into different folders onto my computer. I was super-obsessed.Elle Fanning, actor
Is it so bad that public opinion matters?
It is not a negative thing that media and public opinion contribute so heavily to the Met Gala. Since it is a charity event, it’s relevance is amazing in consistently raises money each year. Particularly with high fashion, so daring and creative, our differing opinions and conversations contribute to the fact it is art to be consumed. So, we should carry on doing Buzzfeed quizzes! Not only to show recognition for the hard work behind the scenes of the event, but also to contribute to red carpet fashion in the way that we’re able and the way that is fun!
Written by Molly Hardwick