Met Gala 2024 lights a match and ignites a wildfire

Met Gala 2024 lights a match and ignites a wildfire

The 2024 Met Gala gave us a glimpse into the past as they celebrated the ‘sleeping beauties’ of fashion: pieces too delicate to ever be worn again. The Met Gala is an annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, traditionally marking the opening of a fashion exhibit. 

Held at the Met in New York, the gala was filled with the usual A-listers and their designers. The strict policies beforehand, such as a secret guest list and a no-phones rule, create a disconnect between the elite and ordinary. Many have compared this year’s high-profile event to that of the “Hunger Games” due to attendees’ costume-like attire and massive display of wealth as the world around them burns. 

Designing clothes used to mean something. In its prime, these designs were allowed to take space, create movement, and have dimension. The ‘sleeping beauty’ exhibit mummified these garments to be forever frozen in time. Safely preserved, these pieces represent the ultra-rich upper class and the rarity of their designer clothes ever being worn again. Placed on a pedestal, these celebrities are idolized by society, but are so out of reach from the people that praise them. The artwork in this exhibit imitates life; the clothes are untouchable, just like society’s beloved. They are admired through the looking glass that so carefully protects them. Fashion has always pushed boundaries, but instead of delving deeper and showcasing something impactful, the statements made with the clothes at this year’s Met Gala were incredibly superficial. The theme of ‘sleeping beauties’ woke up the public to the unjust elitist culture, further exposing the true divergence between the elite and ordinary. 

The literary inspiration for the gala came from the book “Garden of Time” and was composed by English novelist J.G. Ballard. The overarching ideas from the novel were meant to broaden the creative horizon for those attending and offer them a range of ideas to choose from. The short story displays the way humans remain in a cycle of creation and destruction and the effect it has on the social divide between the classes. It’s an ironic choice of theme considering the world we live in, especially when the Met Gala has become one of the foremost displays of this class divide. 

In the novel, Count Axel and his wife live in a lavish estate surrounded by the finest paintings, sculptures, and books. To keep the disorderly crowd charging the estate at bay, he cuts a flower from his garden to wind the clock back. Upon cutting his last flower, the Count realizes that his garden won’t hold off the crowd any longer. This realization forces his wife to pack their treasures and prepare for their demise.

Many celebrities and designers used the imagery from the story as inspiration. Flowers, elements from nature, and the concept of time were all superficially incorporated to capture Ballard’s story, entirely neglecting the broader message of class division propelled by elitist events like the Met Gala. The time, energy, and effort of craftsmanship could have gone towards a statement that held weight and perpetuated his views on the division. Such meticulously crafted designs shouldn’t have presented such surface-level results. Celebrities and their designers have been known to misinterpret the theme year after year, and for Hollywood’s finest this year, they all managed to produce attire that lacked depth. 

Watching this surface-level interpretation unfold proved Ballard’s theory of the dystopian divide between classes. The designs caused the whole spectacle to become ostentatious, ultimately creating a mockery of what this artistic pageantry is meant to embody. Instead of broadening their tunnel vision to understand the meaning behind the novel, they unintentionally conformed to Ballard’s point exactly. 

At first, the reactions on the internet justified the event to be a break from the everyday struggle people face, but soon, the question of what could the elite possibly need a break from in their perfect, untouchable bubble arose. The nerve was struck when the “Let them eat cake” video by TikTok influencer @Haleyybaylee went viral and sparked chaos as she quoted Marie Antoinette’s famous phrase, which was known to mock her subjects’ lack of food. Her insensitivity unveiled her superiority complex towards the people in this economy struggling to pay rent, buy groceries, and get gas while the rich are basking in their societal status and safety of their assets. As Baylee’s demonstration of privilege mocked the social status of the general public, Ballard’s point was solidified yet again.

Following the widespread circulation of the TikTok video, the masses began to block accounts of major celebrities and influencers. Since public figures bank on the attention from their followers interacting with their accounts, this retaliation disrupts their income and ruins their image. Society has every right to not stand by as they continue to be willfully ignorant to the circumstances around them. Not only did their silent actions speak volumes, but the strength in numbers halted the flow of capitalistic profit celebrities make off of the masses. 

Each year, the Met Gala proposes a new idea and hosts their event to introduce an exhibit, raise money for the museum, and encourage its guests to push the boundaries of art and fashion through the combination of the two. Yearly, I enjoyed seeing interpretations of the walking artwork, but this time was different. This year, it was impossible to ignore their elitism. Considering the political issues occurring among the masses and the novel’s statement, it was difficult to ignore the lack of awareness from everyone partaking in this event. 

Fashion is meant to inspire people, but in the end, this form of entertainment was just a mockery. The more we analyze the multitude of layers, the clearer it becomes that elitists’ lack of connection with reality is simply replaced by their hyperfixation of themselves.

Image courtesy of Michelle Deng

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About the Contributor
Audree Melekyan
Hello everyone! My name is Audree and I am a transfer student majoring in Public Health with a Concentration in Medicine Sciences. I love the medical field and plan to be a surgical physician assistant. I enjoy music and writing on my free time. I am excited to be apart of The Guardian!
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    Annette FabianoMay 31, 2024 at 7:27 am

    I’ve always felt that Anna Wintour helped encourage a disconnected level of Have and Have Not culture. She got her job at Vogue because of her father’s connections. There are marvelous clothing designers and artists all across the U.S. that she would turn her nose up at because they are just normal people in society. The woman holds court over the entire fashion industry. It’s sickening to see.

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