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Opinion – the Met Gala is officially washed

C-list celebrities gaining entry, underwhelming outfit choices, and a totally tone-deaf theme — is it time to admit the Met isn’t what it used to be?

If it feels like you’ve blinked and it’s the annual Met Gala again, don’t be alarmed. The last was rescheduled due to a well-known flu virus and occurred a mere 6 months ago in mid-September.

As such, celebrity stylists were left with a short time to conjure up looks for this year’s event, which resumed according to its usual schedule: the first Monday in May. This limited preparation time has become painfully obvious gauging by the underwhelming attire and widespread disregard for the event’s dress code.

I’ll admit that this criticism might sound a little Piers Morgan of me. But judging by Twitters’ commentary, an overwhelming majority of onlookers feel that celebrities are failing to serve the looks we expect to see at fashion’s most iconic and esteemed event.

Pinning down why we collectively feel the Met Gala is going downhill requires addressing the following questions: Why is the theme so tone-deaf? Is the Met Gala being tarnished by its new, laissez-faire approach to the guest list? Has social media pulled the curtain back, erasing the mystique of the event?

The theme was severely out of touch

Every Met Gala has a dress code, a theme that guests are required to adhere to in exchange for being invited. This year’s guests were asked to dress in ‘Gilded Glamour’ or rather fashion that emerged from this historical era.

Look up the Gilded Age and you’ll find it described as: ‘The period in American history from about 1870 to 1900, during which rapid industrialization, a labour pool swelled by immigration, and minimal governmental regulation allowed the upper classes to accumulate great wealth and enjoy opulent lifestyles.’

Anyone else feeling like this is a weird parallel to what’s currently unfolding around the globe?

At a glance, inflation is rising steadily as we (try to) ignore the pandemic ever happened, countless numbers of people are being forced to migrate due to war or climate change, and the pro-abortion bill Rowe v. Wade is being debated and subsequently overturned in numerous states across America.

On top of this, it’s common knowledge that the growth and success during America’s Gilded Age wouldn’t have been possible without the exploitation of immigrant workers, many of whom are still affected today by those same negative socio-political attitudes.

Attendee Riz Ahmed, a British-Pakistani actor and musician, appeared to be the only guest who chose to showcase this dark reality of the Gilded Age. Instead of donning a luxurious getup like most other guests, he arrived wearing a navy worker jacket with matching trousers and rubber boots.

I’m not the first to suggest the Met’s theme was out of touch. Many have suggested passing the theme-choosing baton to someone new.

It’s worth noting that tasteful themes have been selected in the past, with the ‘CAMP’ being a particularly great one. And surely those tasked with deciding on a theme could have attempted to be a little less tone deaf, given the current social, political, and economic landscape?

The mystique of the Met is waning

It’s highly possible that the once majestic allure surrounding the Met Gala has simply begun to fade.

Once upon a time, the Met Gala was an event attended to by the world’s most talented and famous. Guestlist status was off-limits for reality television stars, for example, who Anna Wintour is known to have refused to recognise as being in the A-list category.

In recent years though, TV personalities, TikTok stars, and YouTubers have slowly found their names added to the guestlist. Meanwhile, iconic celebrities like Rihanna, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, and Zendaya have noticeably opted out of attendance.

Making things more shambolic is the attitudes of those granted attendance, who don’t seem honoured to be there. Comedian Amy Shumer called the event ‘ridiculous’ and said that she was  ‘only there for the drinks.’ Haha.

Sure, the glitz and glamour of a Met Ball might feel a little over the top in 2022. But considering the event is an esteemed tradition, started in 1948 and aimed at raising funds for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, these comments do feel a little disrespectful.

Finally, the overwhelming media saturation of the Met Gala could be causing public apathy.

Gone are ‘behind the scenes’ photos of models sneaking a cheeky fag in the bathroom together. Even the novelty of the star-studded bathroom selfie seems to have worn off, as our patience with celebrities has gone downhill, exasperated by the pandemic.

Perhaps we’re sick of seeing the world’s wealthiest gather together, giving us nothing fashion-wise, and not even sticking to the theme. Perhaps we’re simply sick of celebrity – A, B, or C-list. Or perhaps it’s all of the aforementioned factors coming together, making the Met Gala appear more lacklustre with each year.

I don’t have the answers, but perhaps you do. Can the Met Gala ever get its magic back?