Culture, Body Positivity and Sustainability. How does the largest event in fashion history track the changes that made fashion contemporary?
The Annual Met Gala is confidently the largest event in fashion to date. It is a platform for each designer and fashion house to test and present their craftsmanship. Similarly, it is a platform for each individual invited to be regarded by millions of viewers around the globe. Consequently, this event increases the likeability and visibility of various celebrities, and the stories they want to tell.
In a manner that is very characteristic of fashion, this event is largely exclusive, expensive and invite-only. For years the decisions about the attendees were decided on by the top figures in fashion, in the headquarters of Vogue itself. This year marks the 74th annual event, making it not only the world’s most renowned fashion event but also the perfect outlet to track the evolution of fashion.
This year’s event was characterised by an insurgence in sustainable choices of the designers, fashion houses and attendees, with the largest amount of archive pieces and repurposed outfits present at the Met Gala to date. A total of 12 celebrities, including Emily Ratajowski, Emma Stone, Kim Kardashian, Camilla Cabello, Billie Eilish and more have chosen to relinquish their right to a notorious custom-made ball gown. And instead opted into pieces from the archives, recycled, upcycled, and vintage pieces.
Although just as sustainability is not the only pillar of contemporary fashion, it was not the only global social movement present on the carpet this year. Another tremendously important element of modern fashion could be noted this year. Body positivity has been gradually gaining momentum from the years of 2017 and this year marks tremendous evolution, as the representation of all body types has peaked at this year’s top fashion event.
Body positivity activists and talented women like Lizzo, Meghan Thee Stallion, Lala Anthony, Billie Eilish and Precious Lee have been invited and dressed with the utmost dedication at this year’s met.
This is important to note, as it was only in 2017 that the first plus-sized model Ashley Graham appeared to represent women of all shapes at the Met. Although, it was not easy for her. The model recalls that her first year at the met was difficult, as she “couldn’t get a designer to dress me,” due to the supposed difficulty of constructing a dress for her body type. Thankfully, the model did not give up then and continued to attend the Gala for three consecutive years after that. This certainly paved the way for those attending the Met following her, and those shopping for their body types in real life alike.
The third pillar of growth – cultural representation, is highlighted by the attendee Quannah Chasinghorse. Quannah is an Indigenous model, who attended the Met for the second year in a row. Her beauty is striking, as she wears traditional native face tattoos, and chooses to represent her culture in her outfit. The model has opened up about feeling lonely and left out at the Gala in 2021, as she felt her people weren’t welcomed to such spaces before. However, she confided in a report by Insider (Noyen, 2022) that this year she has felt much more welcome.
Quannah has granted her confidence partially to her ancestors, who she said were with her due to her choice of dress and accessories. The model spoke in detail of the origin of her necklace. Saying it was crafted using traditional ancient techniques and materials, including earth elements and porcupine quills. This attendee marks the first steps that were long overdue for the Met Gala, as is the representation and inclusion of Indigenous women in the industry as a whole.