The Met Gala once again has come and gone, with Hollywood stars and socialites donning the most extravagant designs by the most esteemed names in fashion, dressing to different themes each year.
The gala started as an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City, hence the huge emphasis on fashion. The Met Gala is widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious fashion event and social gathering, with many calling it fashion’s biggest night.
However, in today’s day and age, the Met Gala is irrelevant.
German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s work was this year’s theme. Lagerfeld, the famous and controversial influence behind bringing Chanel to the forefront of high fashion, fully entrenched himself on elitist fashion and the beauty standards of the rich and powerful, often adopting a very dismissive stance on social justice and human welfare.
It’s understandable for a character such as himself to be the topic of the Met Gala since both represent an unapologetic approach to high fashion and the proliferation of a ruling elite, neither sparing much thought on the rest of the population. The whole sentiment of the Met Gala is about as vain and materialistic as one can get.
Lagerfeld was often known to dismiss the idea of an unrealistic body standard in modelling being harmful, and during an interview with German women’s magazine Brigittee said, “You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about ‘dreams and illusions.’”
This sort of vapid response to a legitimate concern for people’s wellbeing is a reflection of how people like Lagerfeld and those attending the Met Gala truly feel about those they deem below themselves. The sentiments and life work of Lagerfeld represent a legacy of degrading the not-so-fortunate, whether that relates to beauty standards or wealth.
The perverse underlying message that the two have in common is ‘there’s a big party and you’re not invited,’ though these people have no problem exploiting those same outliers.
Whether it’s the Met Gala or the Grammys, the extravagant displays of wealth and attention grabbing costumes, which I dare not call outfits since they will scarcely be worn again, are all manifestations of what is wrong with celebrity culture and the elite.
It makes sense given how the gala started as a costume design fundraiser, but when millions of dollars worth of clothing are on the premises, it becomes gluttonous at a certain point, such as Kim Kardashian wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress, which is worth over $10 million.
Lagerfeld represented a gate-keeper, determining who was allowed into the party based on his arbitrary characteristics of who is good enough, and these exclusive congregations are really meant to exemplify the legitimacy of such claims; there’s no point in being a part of the group if you never get to show it off.
In this day and age, the event feels like an exercise in bad taste as we have cost of living crises and widening poverty gap. The unashamed, extravagant displays of wealth and consumerism feel out of place, especially given the venue is in New York, one of the most staunch examples of the class divide present in the United States.
We as consumers should look away from these materialistic and vapid boasts of wealth and fashion, and the first step is to refuse to pay your attention to the mocking displays from those who refuse to associate with the normal population.
We must collectively decide to stop giving power to the ones who hoard it all and then look down at us from their ivory tower. The Met Gala has no place for the everyday citizen and so the everyday citizen should have no place for it; our attention and fundraising efforts should go to much better suited causes like the homeless or those in-need since Hollywood clearly has enough money bouncing around.