The Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala, is an annual fundraising event for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. It signifies the imposing inception of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. Each year’s event celebrates the theme of that year’s Costume Institute exhibition, and the exhibition sets the style for the dress code of the night. The Met Gala is the biggest event on the fashion fundraising calendar. Founded by publicist Eleanor Lambert, the event was first held in 1948 to stimulate donations from New York’s high society. The most famous faces from the industry of fashion, film, music and art gather to raise money for the Met’s Costume Institute and commemorate for the magnificent launch of its latest exhibition.
This year’s exhibition theme is Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. It took curator Andrew Bolton several years to convince the Vatican to give its approval of the theme that explores divine inspiration in fashion. It is possible that Rome’s reluctance stemmed from concern that the exhibition, and its outrageous outfits, would devalue and belittle religious imagery. Had Islam been chosen as the religious theme, all hell would have broken loose. So why is it different for Christianity to be ‘satirised’? Some of the imagery chosen to be translated into the costumes were images of mystical suffering such as in Lana Del Ray’s dress. Is it right that the attention of the event was more to do with human beauty than sacred beauty when the purpose of the exhibition was to showcase scared works of art that don’t usually leave Rome? Was it not more to do with the religion of Hollywood ego, which excluded reference to the meaning? Nevertheless, it has shown the Catholic church to be in a good and tolerant light, as no violence has been provoked, and the bible states Christians to welcome humour. “Fashion reflects the world around us and nobody understands that more clearly than Andrew,” Wintour told the press. “When I go to these fashion exhibitions. I’m always so amazed to see people from all sides of the globe and all walks of life really studying the exhibitions, understanding that fashion does not operate in a vacuum.” The fashion industry has found its success purely because it nods to powerful emotions and desires. Fashion is a vehicle for obscuring the boundaries between things that you have the ability to change and the things you don’t. Religious imagery has utilised the same boundaries for a long period of time by evoking and conjuring the invisible into life.
My favourite interview of the night was with the actor Lena Waithe, who wore a rainbow flag cape to signal to the Catholic church’s complicated relationship with the LGBTQ community. “The theme to me is, like, be yourself…You were made in God’s image, right?”