Looking at you, serial theme-nonconformists
It’s the first Monday in May, which means that tonight *would* have been the Met Gala 2020. The event, which is put on every year by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute to raise money for the upcoming year, is arguably the event of the year as far as fashion is concerned. But even though it’s not actually happening tonight thanks to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking and thinking about it. In recent days, an October 2017 interview with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has re-surfaced, in which the EIC and Met Gala host tells late night host James Corden just *which* celeb she wouldn’t invite back to the big do during a game of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.” And the answer is, TBH, not so surprising: “Donald Trump,” a sunglasses-less Wintour told the host.
While we tend to agree that Trump would probably be a *pretty* unpopular guest moving forward, he isn’t the only celeb Wintour should refrain from inviting to the next Met Gala because we need to also start nixing people that don’t follow the annual theme—and that includes Anna Wintour herself.
Listen, the Met Gala is all about the theme
While the actual event consists of dinner and celeb performances in order to raise money for the Costume Institute, everyone knows the real event is what happens on the red carpet, a.k.a. the fashion. As much as we may or may not like it, Vogue—and Wintour—are the gatekeepers and tastemakers of the fashion world. To walk into the Met Gala (and be chosen to be a guest by Wintour), is honestly more of an honour than to walk the red carpet at the Oscars, as a status symbol of who’s accepted into the upper echelons of celeb in the fashion world and who’s notable. Don’t believe me? Just look at Kim Kardashian West. When a then heavily-pregnant KKW walked the 2013 Met Gala carpet on the arm of then-BF Kanye West, it was a *moment.* Up until that point, KKW was just known as a reality TV star, and has since talked about the fact that she was a) so insecure about being there and b) was sure no one wanted her there. Her debut at the gala (not to mention her March 2014 cover of Vogue) cemented the beauty and lingerie mogul as someone beyond reality TV and to be taken seriously in the fashion world.
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The fact that Kardashian West (and now additional fam members like Kylie and Kendall Jenner) frequent the carpet (as their star status synonymously rose in areas *outside* of reality TV) is an indicator that they—and their type of fame—is accepted. It’s like old money accepting new money into the fam.
And celebs take advantage of this status; making their couple debuts at the event (either on the carpet like Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse or Selena Gomez and The Weeknd, or inside like Kendall Jenner and A$AP Rocky). Showing up on the carpet is a *big* deal in the fashion world, and so your outfit needs to be a big deal, too.
With themes varying from “Punk: Chaos to Couture” to “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” celebs are meant to go all out on their interpretations, turning fashion into high art. And when it’s done right, a look or a moment can legit become a cultural touchstone (just look at anytime Rihanna has graced the carpet). Because the theme announces that year’s exhibit, showing up *not* on-brand, is like showing up to a Halloween party dressed normally with a sign that says “ask me about my costume”.
Lame as hell.
And celebs who blatantly ignore the Met Gala theme just ruin it
And when someone doesn’t show up on theme—or completely misses the mark—it’s really obvious. And not only that, but really puts a damper on the event. The past few years have seen *tons* of celebs grace the carpet in less than great looks. From Karlie Kloss, whose take on camp was was a *very* early 2000s-looking gold tube dress with black puff sleeves (is anyone else getting *serious* Lumiere vibes from this? And not the Katy Perry kind), to Taran Egerton’s abomination of a black suit (during a year in which he played camp icon Elton John, for god-sakes!) to Gwyneth Paltrow’s continued eschewing of the theme year after year—we’ve seen it all, and we’re not happy.
This overlooking of the theme seems to be especially applicable to many of the models who attend (we’re looking at you, Bella Hadid), who continue to use the carpet as a means to just look pretty. And not to mention Wintour herself, the EIC—who has become known for her iconic bob and perma-sunglasses, has also become known for her love of Chanel; and she wears the designer at EVERY. SINGLE. MET. GALA. And honestly, it’s very difficult to find a Chanel look that is actually camp.
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And while it’s *fine* in theory for models and Wintour to dress in something they feel OK in and shows off their assets, it really boils our blood for the Met Gala. Because it’s the one night in the world of celeb where our faves can really go all out and take a risk. The one night they can rock multiple eyes on their face and put on an *actual* performance a la Lady Gaga’s 2019 red carpet looks. And deferring back to a bland shift dress or mini just seems like they’re not really putting in the seriousness and investment the gala deserves.
Not to be rude, but when Rihanna is showing up literally looking like *this*!!!
How can you dare show up looking like…this:
But, the non-conforming celebrities might actually not be *entirely* to blame
But before we put all the onus on the celebs themselves, we have to acknowledge the fact that there’s another person at play when decision are being made about which look to grace the Met carpet in: the designer. Often dressing several celebs on the big night, the designer has a lot of say in what said celebs will wear, and what their own interpretation of the theme is. We learned as much after the 2019 Met Gala, when rapper Nicki Minaj—whose look many found to be underwhelming—essentially put the blame on her dresses designer, Prabal Gurung.
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Speaking to E! News on the carpet, Minaj said of her dress: “This is by Prabal Gurung, and this is how he interpreted camp, I guess.” Later, she added: “He established that for me, so the camp stuff, that’s on him.”
Which does not sound like a happy customer, TBH.
Here’s hoping for a better, more on-theme Met Gala 2021!