MET Gala Criticised Amidst International Conflicts

By Olivia Henry

Every year on the first Monday of May, celebrities, designers and the most powerful individuals in the fashion industry convene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise funds for the MET Costume Institute when the notorious MET Gala is hosted. 

Described by fashion journalist Andre Leon Tally as “The Super Bowl of social fashion events,” the MET Gala is a night of opulence and extravagance that transcends fashion. Over the last 76 years, it has become one of the most anticipated events in popular culture and is no longer merely about reflecting the changes in high society fashion trends but about bringing together the most culturally relevant celebrities in a spectacle of wealth and glamour. 

The biggest names in music, film, fashion, culture and sports are invited, with tickets costing $75,000 each. This year alone saw the likes of Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, Lana Del Ray and so many more parade the red-carpet modelling outfits befitting to the theme of ‘Garden of Time.’ 

However, amidst the glamour and elegance of this event lies the fundamental issue of its very existence. In a world corrupted by poverty, war and inflation, it is necessary to criticise the grandeur of an event that pours money into an institute that already has significant investment from the fashion industry. 

The MET Gala was founded by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert in 1948 who wanted to promote fashion as an art form during a time when it was viewed as a frivolous feminine interest. In 1995, Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine, became the first chairperson of the event and completely transformed the MET Gala into the cultural phenomenon we know it to be today.  

What started off as a simple, intimate dinner with tickets costing only $50 has turned into an annual display of wealth and glamour which is documented by the press and news outlets around the world. According to the New York Times, this year’s event alone raised approximately $26 million, a total that, as many have pointed out, could be spent on aiding victims of conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, neither of which were acknowledged on the night. Criticism of the event’s insensitivity has been widespread, particularly because it took place only a few streets away from Columbia University where, only a few days before, a police raid had been called against students involved in a Gaza protest. 

Whilst the popularity of the MET Gala is undeniable, the relevance of an event that seems to serve more so as a social function for A-list celebrities than a charity fundraiser must be called into question, especially amidst the political conflict and civil unrest occurring around the world. 

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