What the MET gala influencers say about haute couture elitism
This year’s MET gala was the first since COVID-19 restrictions eased, and perhaps that’s why the guest pool has been widened from the political and social elite to include influencers. . The theme was “In America: A Fashion Lexicon”, allowing participants to introduce American designers from Oscar De La Renta to Aurora James. Still, it’s worth considering whether inclusion seven influencers (Addison Rae, Emma Chamberlain, Eugene Lee Yang, Nikkie de Jager, Jackie Aina, Dixie D’Amelio and Madison Beer) in the line-up helped democratize haute couture.
Some may believe that the introduction of influencers to the MET Gala has helped break down barriers when it comes to “ordinary people”. It’s easier for us to relate to influencers, they are more like “people” than their famous counterparts. As subscribers, we watch their lives evolve in real time, gaining a deeper connection with them. This unique connection to their audience serves to demystify the gala, as many influential attendees have given in-depth reviews of the event, speaking at length about their experiences of the evening. These reviews were easily consumed by the public as a glimpse into what was once reserved for the social elite.
However, the idea that the public understood the MET gala better is an illusion – influencers at the event are doing nothing to break down class barriers to haute couture. Influencers like Emma Chamberlain are now as much of the elite as Gigi Hadid. Illustrated by the fact that Emma has a sustained relationship with Louis Vuitton, having become one of the flagship of the brand. Thus, inviting such influencers to the event does nothing to lower the MET to a more “common” level, but rather brings them closer to the elite.
This is demonstrated by the fact that the MET is an extremely expensive event. Tickets are still at $ 35,000 for those who weren’t on the exclusive guest list, and although the theme is “American fashion,” the clothes worn are still far from the average US budget. The high prices of the clothes were offset by the fact that none of the influencers promoted small American designers. Instead, they chose to wear Valentino, Louis Vuitton and Tom Ford. To me, it shows both a lack of understanding of their privilege and a lack of desire to help young aspiring artists break into the fashion arena. I believe Lewis Hamilton has done more to break down the barriers of high fashion because he brought an entire table to the MET Gala and invited young black American fashion designers to join him so they can showcase their craft.
In addition, the influencers of the MET will not change the structure of fashion that has existed for hundreds of years. It will always be the case that we will have the cerulean blue runoff structure that is so well remembered from “The Devil Wears Prada”. Knock-offs will always be popular. Everything we see on the high fashion catwalks will eventually be copied by Pretty Little Thing and Shein, allowing consumers to get cheaper options of the same style of clothing. The presence of influencers at the MET will do nothing to make the original items more accessible to the public, but will at most create an incentive for fast fashion companies to produce similar garments.
Thus, introducing influencers to the MET Gala did not help break down class barriers and increase inclusiveness. Instead, when we are trying to make fashion more accessible to the masses, we should focus on raising awareness about the art form of fashion. Whether that’s by encouraging debate about the outfits worn on Twitter, or through fashion commentary channels like ‘High fashion‘ and ‘Mina Le.‘
While influencers are arguably the tier of society with the most wealth and social capital, I would say that just letting them into the institution of high fashion is revolutionary. Not only were political statements made on this historically elitist platform, but this year’s MET Gala was also the the youngest and most diverse to date.
It is obvious that the appointment of Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka as hosts of the 2021 Gala was a step to attract young people to haute couture, if not a step to increase accessibility to the industry. Inviting those of the still non-traditional celebrity type as new as TikTok is proof enough.
However, it may well be a decision of last resort on the part of the organizers of the Gala. YouTuber and activist Eugene Lee Yang described his trip to the Gala in a mini-documentary titled ‘My first MET gala (and how I almost didn’t get there),‘revealing that he had only been invited a week ahead of schedule. He had a lot of trouble finding a designer ready to dress him in the vision he wanted, so he was forced to don the dreaded black suit for the event. While he still managed to rock the red carpet with a gravity-defying quilt, bright red makeup, and matching heeled boots, the underlying message seems to be that the MET Gala and the world of high fashion did not value influencers despite having invited them to mingle with them.
Perhaps because their fame is a direct result of their hard work, some influencers showed up in some of the best looks of the night. Beauty guru Nikkie de Jager donned a gorgeous turquoise dress with flowers and a banner that reads “Pay It No Mind”. Recently released Nikkie paid tribute to one of America’s first transgender activists Marsha ‘Pay It No Mind’ Johnson. She succeeded where many other ‘elite’ gala attendees failed – while opting for a Dutch designer, she referred to an American icon and shed light on the issues that plague the country to this day.
However, sometimes the dress cannot speak for itself. While not an ‘influencer’ in the social media-centric sense of fame, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caused her fair share of media frenzy when she wore a white dress with red lettering. read ‘Taxing the rich.’ Although the accusations of hypocrisy are unfounded – she did not shell out the 5-figure attendance fees and the statement was in line with her position and acts as a politician, it was nonetheless disappointing that she did so little. ‘efforts to draw attention to dissonance. reserved for those who have the privilege of attending such institutions. The expectations of her as a politician elected to bring more than just a slogan transposed onto a dress are extremely high. Without verbally raising awareness of the Gala’s role as a blatant display of wealth, while the message had been filtered by Gala’s approval, it is no longer threatening, it loses all impact and appears incredibly deaf. The gala drew Black Lives Matter protests to the gates of the MET and by protesting against police abuse were themselves arrested while a large part of the Gala guests partied, oblivious. So it goes beyond inaccessibility – the MET Gala allows, even encourages ignorance. While cultural and artistic institutions are undoubtedly intrinsic to society, when basic needs are ignored in their favor, this amounts to blatant injustice.
While high fashion may forever remain inaccessible to us ordinary people, there are things we could consider in our wardrobes. The definition of sewing requires it to be handcrafted to wearer’s specifications. The value is placed on the work of designers and manufacturers of clothing, which could somehow be seen in opposition to the endless cycle of fast fashion. The awareness of sustainable living and the renewed interest in making clothes by hand is a positive sign that we will one day start our own form of “sewing” from scratch.
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A love letter at the MET Gala – Past, present and predictions
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