The Met Gala, an event formerly known as the Costume Institute Gala, is the annual celebration of high, couture fashion, which has taken place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, since its creation in 1995. Every year, the gala adopts the theme of the upcoming exhibition of that year, with the gala as its moment of unveiling.
This year, the theme has encountered controversy surrounding the decision to concentrate solely on one religion’s impact on fashion; the theme is entitled ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Image’. The Met Gala 2018 was co-chaired by Donatella Versace, who needs no introduction, Rihanna, who has been gracing us with her presence at recent past galas, and Amal Clooney. The theme of the gala and the pieces in the exhibition explore not only the bond between fashion and faith, but the enduring impact that religion and liturgical vestments have on high fashion, with mention to specific designers such as Versace and Riccardo Tisci, who cite Catholicism as a source of inspiration for their works.
According to Andrew Bolton, the head curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, his studies on the correlation between fashion and faith, which have lasted five years, were originally intended to focus on Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, as well as Catholicism. However, he found the influence of Catholicism overwhelmingly larger than that of the other religions, suggesting that “80%” of the modern artefacts he had encountered were inspired by Catholicism, with many of France, Italy and Britain’s most notable designers being raised as Catholics, creating his research to appear “imbalanced”1. Therefore, so as not make the other religions appear as “tokens”1 after the agreement of the Vatican to loan the Costume Institute a variety of artefacts, he narrowed his focus solely to the influence of the Catholic religion.
The Met Gala is arguably the most famous red carpet fashion event and, in my opinion, this is BECAUSE it has a theme which is supposed to influence the designs that the guests wear. The Met Galas’ themes are a celebration of the chosen topic, a celebration of culture, a celebration of high fashion, so to ignore them is missing the point of the event entirely. Having a black dress designed for you by someone who has never attributed their designs or influences from the theme seems completely absurd, with stylist Elizabeth Stewart stating that “there are obvious labels that lend themselves to the theme”1 this year, with Chanel, Galliano, Versace and Balenciaga springing to mind. Let’s take Kylie Jenner’s dress as an example: her long black dress seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the theme whatsoever, meaning that she and the designer, Alexander Wang, simply ignored the brief. Instead, in an interview on the night she said she had wanted “something more simple, edgy, young” with no mention of the theme at all. Other culprits of this blunder this year were Kendall Jenner, Kate Moss and Miley Cyrus (with the latter two also wearing black dresses with no nod towards the theme).
Seeing as the Met Gala is a fundraiser and a culmination of months, if not years, of Costume Institute research, it seems even more pertinent to follow, consider and take inspiration from the theme. Ultimately, when it comes to the Met Gala, what really is the point of attending wearing a beautiful piece of high fashion which doesn’t abide by the theme?
(keeping in mind the theme)
Kylie Jenner wearing Alexander Wang, not only for completely ignoring the theme but also the dress was unbelievably dull.
Close behind were Miley Cyrus and Kendall Jenner.
Priyanka Chopra wearing Ralph Lauren. On the night, during an interview she described the dress as a representation of her “two worlds colliding” with the embroidery having been carried out in India.
Other designs I loved were worn by Rosie Huntington-Whitely by Ralph Lauren and Stella Maxwell in Moschino.