Calvin Klein, Givenchy and countless other high-fashion names brought their futuristic and famed designs to the red carpet of the Museum of Metropolitan Art in New York City on Monday night. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit, the annual fashion event better known as the Met Gala, fundraises for the museum’s costume design exhibition and is attended by major fashion influencers and, of course, celebrities.
But is the celebrity frenzy really all that necessary for the appreciation of high fashion? Should wearing these designers’ works of art be left up to professional models, or even museum mannequins? A&E writers Lena Schipper and Gabriella Kamran debate the fashion phenomenon in this week’s “Love | Hate.”
The annual Met Gala is truly the evening in which high fashion steps off the runway and onto the red carpet’s center stage. The world’s top designers dress some of the biggest stars in avant-garde, attention-grabbing pieces. The newly-transformed models then take to the famous New York landmark stairs for a storm of flash photography and cheers from adoring fans.
So what does all this hype mean for the fashion and the gala itself? The answer is a whole lot.
It’s safe to say that by now, fashion is universally recognized as an art form, and an unconventional one at that. You can gaze at a sculpture, watch a film and stare at a painting for hours. Fashion is no exception to artistic spectatorship – only, it’s also wearable.
Fashion is about taking risks and creating the unexpected. If a designer feels that a certain celebrity will bring their vision to life on a night of fashion, then more power to them.
To fully appreciate Vera Wang’s futuristic feathered gown, watch as Rita Ora brings it to life as she flounces up the Met stairs – you’ll only be able to see similar gowns propped up on stationary mannequins in the exhibit afterward. If Lady Gaga’s fishnet stockings and metallic leotard make your eyes roll into the back of your skull, take it up with the legendary Donatella Versace and her design team.
Of course there’s the money aspect. Put Kylie Jenner in a Balmain gown, stick her on the red carpet and in flow the exhibits’ funds from the event. I hate to break it to the fame haters of society, but for an exhibition as elaborate as the Met’s Costume Institute, celebrity endorsement is a necessary evil. If designers want their incredibly intricate creations to be appreciated by the masses, the people are going to need a familiar face to associate with a label – it’s promotion, and it’s the same in any industry.
- Lena Schipper
Every spring the art of fashion goes to the Met Gala to die.
The Met Gala is supposed to celebrate fashion as an art form by featuring celebrities dressed in elaborate designer costumes.
The only problem is everything celebrities touch turns into a mess of marketing schemes and fuel for the fashion police. By allowing celebs to showcase the costumes, the Met Gala is doing a disservice to fashion’s dignity as an art form. The Gala would be better off hiring professional models – or no models at all.
This year’s Met Gala celebrated the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Dozens of A-list celebrities paraded into the museum wearing pixelated gowns and dresses covered in clip art.
Madonna, ever the dominatrix, wore a black Givenchy outfit with thigh-high boots and breast cutouts. Lady Gaga wore a rubber Atelier Versace leotard with a jacket that looked like a floppy disk. Kanye West wore mildly frightening blue-colored contacts.
When celebrities wear a designer’s work, the outfit was most likely designed with the celebrity’s unique persona in mind. Gaga, for example, would never show up in a modest gown and Kanye probably would not make an appearance in a black tux. If celebrities are the Met Gala’s runway models of choice, it restricts designers’ artistic autonomy to a marketing mold prescribed by a celebrity’s publicist. An alternative method of showcasing designs would provide the blank canvas necessary for original artistic expression and a celebration of art, rather than fame.
The Met Gala red carpet fans the flames on of our obsession with critiquing celebrity fashion. When celebrities showcase the costumes, it deprives the designers’ creations of the nuanced analysis art demands. Instead, we channel the late Joan Rivers and turn a sophisticated cultural event into a Best Dressed column in People Magazine.
Whether Madonna’s Givenchy dress is a tasteful commentary on fashion and technology, we may never know. We’re too busy gawking at her tape-covered nipples.
– Gabriella Kamran