OPINION: The politics are personal, even for the rich and famous who have enough status to be invited to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s annual Met Gala.
Long before some 600 celebrities began arriving on the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in their Tuesday morning pomp (NZT), this year’s theme of ‘golden glamour, white tie’ was not going well.
The theme pays homage to America’s period of prosperity, industrialization, and growth from 1870 to 1890, a time that couldn’t be further from most people’s post-Covid reality.
It prompted slogans, tributes and a healthy dose of historical reflection from some members of the modern celebrity cult.
(Meanwhile, billionaire Elon Musk has simply come forward to say his pending US$46.5 billion (NZ$69 billion) purchase of Twitter will make it “more inclusive.” Yeah, c ‘is right.)
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New York Mayor Eric Adams, who said he was “dying to go” at fundraising for years, arrived dressed in a jacket with decorative forearms and lapels that paid homage to New York City’s transit system. The back of his coat read “End Gun Violence” in red letters.
Singer Alicia Keys wore a cape celebrating New York’s union history.
The theme of the exhibition that the Met Gala officially opens is “In America”, so it was fitting that former first lady, secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was present. Clinton wore a red dress by designer Joseph Altuzarra.
She explained that her dress was hand-embroidered with the names of “brave” American women from the 19th and 20th century liberation movements, including Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.
“I think we’re all happy to be back together, supporting the museum and the Costume Institute — and celebrating not just fashion, but the spirit of America,” Clinton told Vogue hosts. on the red carpet.
One of the hosts was Hamish Bowles, editor of World of Interiors. He took the time to say, “Tonight our hearts are with the people of Ukraine and the victims of war and displacement around the world.”
Condé Nast, Vogue’s publishing company and major sponsor of the event, had donated to the Red Cross, he said, and encouraged “those who can to do so too”.
While most gala attendees wore ruffles, pearls, beads and an air of Old Hollywood glamour, British-Pakistani actor and musician Riz Ahmed arrived in an understated silk shirt and undershirt.
He topped them with a lace-up belt and a Cartier necklace, saying “it’s a tribute to the immigrant workers who kept the golden age alive”.
The Oscar-winning ensemble underscored the reality of the Gilded Age – a period in American history when rapid economic growth benefited the wealthy few, while leading to rampant exploitation of the majority. immigrant workers, especially immigrants of color.
Met Gala veteran Sarah Jessica Parker took a similar but more subtle approach, employing designer Christopher John Rogers to recreate a dress by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, the first black fashion designer in the White House.
Hobbs Keckley was a former slave who moved from Virginia to Washington DC in 1860 and became the official dressmaker for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
“The idea was to highlight the dichotomy between the extravagant and exaggerated proportions of the period and the disparity that was happening in America at the time,” Rogers told Vogue.
If only Wintour had recognized the dichotomy between the extravagant wealth of his guests and their messages.
Meanwhile, singers Billie Eilish and Camila Cabello interpreted the Industrial Revolution as a springboard to talk about the climate crisis.
Eilish wore a custom Gucci corset dress made entirely from recycled materials – “so we didn’t have to waste a lot of stuff.”
“I just wanted to be as eco-friendly as possible,” she said.
Cabello wore a “completely recycled” white dress because “Gilded Age is ironic,” she said. “The age of industrialism and materialism has plunged us into a climate crisis.”
It would be gross underselling to say that Kim Kardashian’s dress is vintage. But hey… let’s talk about recycling.
She wore Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr President” dress for just a few minutes, after following a strict diet for weeks to slip into the pure crystal number. Then she skillfully transformed into a replica of what she called “the original nude dress.”
Kardashian’s nod to the history and rise of women seen as sex symbols came as news surfaced that the United States Supreme Court had tentatively voted to overrule Roe v Wadethe landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide in the United States.