The Met Gala: Past and Future

The Met Gala never ceases to amaze us- whether the outfits are original or overdone, this runway captures the attention of the fashion world.

Formally called the Costume Institute Gala, the Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in NYC. The first Met Gala was held in 1948 and ever since, the event has gone from strength to strength.

As with art, the admiration of one’s clothing is subjective. Outfits at the Gala can be original or overdone, with some looks captivating our attention for the right reasons and others falling short of magnificence. As the years have progressed, Met Gala themes have become more imaginative, permitting a huge degree of creative freedom and producing some striking interpretations and outfit choices.

 Gisele Bündchen wearing Alexander McQueen for 2011’s ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’   Image Credit

Gisele Bündchen wearing Alexander McQueen for 2011’s ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’

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Historically, the Met Gala has been a place where attendees have been able to push boundaries through their clothing. Each year has a theme, decided by the organisers and is interpreted by those attending in the form of wearable art. These themes can feature designers, such as the 2011 theme: Alexander McQueen- Savage Beauty; or they feature a concept, such as the 2014 theme ‘impossible conversations. 2018's theme 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination' was especially thought-provoking given its significance to religion and history.

 Rihanna wearing Maison Margiela in 2018’s ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’   Image credit

Rihanna wearing Maison Margiela in 2018’s ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’

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The theme for 2019 is inspired by the seminal 1964 essay ‘Notes on “Camp” written by Susan Sontag which shifted the cultural connotations of the word ‘camp’ making it more mainstream; it identified the evolution of camp as a distinct part of the evolution of fashion. Sontag described ‘Camp’ as ‘a mode of aestheticism… not in terms of beauty but in terms of the degree of artifice and stylisation’. Not all things can be Camp but, since fashion can become decorative art, Camp taste has an affinity for it. The word ‘Camp’ has a rich history which combined with where fashion is going, should produce some exaggerated, jaw-dropping outfits.

Sontag considers the ultimate camp statement to be ‘it’s good because it’s awful’ which will certainly allow attendees to experiment with their choices. We expect to see a variety of interpretations of ‘Camp’ on the red carpet. These range from slick, stylized ensembles featuring androgynous silhouettes to those highlighting the current trends of bright neon colours and mixing textured fabrics to a degree that could be considered ‘gaudy’ akin to the Gucci SS19 show. This year, numerous designers have showcased pieces with political and cultural undertones and we predict seeing pieces that are more than what they first appear to be: pieces drawing inspiration from social media and queer subculture, incorporating what the designers and wearers would like to say about our world.

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Banner image from https://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/met-gala-2018-dresses

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