Why I Was Not Disappointed by The Met Gala


May 6, 2017

by Gracia Ventus

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The key to avoiding disappointments is to not have expectations.

Which is why the Met Gala's lack of appreciation for Comme des Garçons hardly bothered me. It is to be expected that most of the celebrated attendees would ignore the theme, especially one so conceptual and focused. We have to see the Met Gala for what it is - a circus of sponsorships, fundraising, and ultimately, money.

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I love the Harry Potter book series. I've read all seven books, some of them twice. When the first movie came out, I was incredibly excited. Unfortunately I found myself leaving the cinema feeling less than thrilled with it. The movie felt like a poor summary of the book despite the beautiful visuals. I gave the second installment a chance, and by the third I was tired of being disappointed. From then on I decided to skip the rest of the franchise, opting to catch glimpses of them on various corners of the internet.


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This is how I feel about the Met Gala. Despite being given broader themes to experiment with in the past few years, invited celebrities did not bother to stick to them. Given that this year's theme is very specific, the blatant disregard was even more glaring. Fortunately I also didn't bother to invest my expectations in it.

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To understand why the VIPs were treating this event as another run-of-the-mill red carpet party, we need to look into the history of the Met Gala.

First and foremost, the Met Gala is the single biggest fundraiser event for the Costume Institute - the only wing of the Met which has to finance its own exhibits and activities. When it began hosting these dinners in mid 20th Century, the invitees were mostly the elites of New York. In the 70s, Diana Vreeland - one of fashion's most celebrated icons and thinkers - took over the leadership of Costume Insitute, bringing the quality of the exhibits to new heights. Anna Wintour took over the position in the 90s, shifting the focus from the exhibits to the star-studded annual dinner party, much like what she has done for her own Vogue.

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Every year, only 600-700 people are allowed to attend this party. If you have plenty of spare cash, a seat at the table would cost you $30,000. However, being able to fork out the money doesn't guarantee a name on the guest list. Not only is there a queue, Anna Wintour has the final say on the list of attendees. She is thus solely responsible for the abhorrent and irrelevant herd of celebrities whose contribution to fashion, design and culture is none other than perpetuating the objectification of women and the fixation of youth in the form of Hadids and Jenners.

If you're wondering why many of the attendees were wearing the same brands, that's because these brands have bought tables - costing as much as $275,000 - and invited their chosen personas to their seats. If one accepts this invitation, one must wear the brand's clothes. The non-negotiable contract forces the celebrities to double as walking billboards. This is why, ladies and gentlemen, you should not have expected anyone famous to wear Comme des Garçons. Instead, what we saw was a throng of prom kings and queens dressed up for a fancy shampoo commercial.

The Met Gala in its entirety has been transformed into a glitzy marketing exercise for the Costume Institute, as well as Anna Wintour's Vogue. Comme des Garçons is simply the sideshow - something which Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe were well aware of. It is a celebrity-driven media circus whose sole purpose is to attract wealth and eyeballs by pandering to the lowest common denominator. The unfortunate consequence is that the celebrated guests consisted mostly of sensationalist individuals who cared more about the camera than the exhibits or goals of the Costume Institute.

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Sources:

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/28/fashion/met-gala-2017-red-carpet-history/

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/fashion/what-is-the-met-gala-and-who-gets-to-go.html?_r=2

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(12 comments)






12 thoughts on “Why I Was Not Disappointed by The Met Gala

  • Andrea

    by Andrea on May 6, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I agree with all you have said. But I went to the exhibit yesterday, & it is really as good or better than I expected it to be. It was purely Rei’s vision, which worked perfectly with her “art”. I felt like I was transported to another planet, The effect was supernatural. And there were no descriptions of the clothes- she wanted the viewer to form their own opinion. I went to a talk where Adrian Joffre was one of the speakers & he said that Rei wondered if anyone would come to the exhibit! Well, she has nothing to worry about. If you are in NY I think you would appreciate the exhibit. Unfortunately, the Met Ball is a necessary evil to mount an exhibit like this.

    Reply
    • Gracia Ventus

      by Gracia Ventus on May 7, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      Dear Andrea,

      Lovely to hear from you as always. A necessary evil – you couldn’t have put it more succinctly. I’m just glad to know that the exhibit itself is well worth the wait. I will do my best to swim through the bureaucratic paperwork to get a US tourist visa, and hopefully see the exhibit. It’s the least I can do to pay my homage to Rei.

      Reply
  • Linda Lindroth

    by Linda Lindroth on May 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    So glad you wrote this and included the few photos of guests wearing Rei. Couldn’t agree more. Couldn’t you just hug Caroline Kennedy?I will wear Comme as I have from the beginning to the exhibition on Wednesday. I reread the Judith Thurman piece from the New Yorker. Still one of the best http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/07/04/the-misfit-3.

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    • Gracia Ventus

      by Gracia Ventus on May 7, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for reminding me of that beautiful article. It’s certainly worth reading again. Please enjoy the exhibit for me, and spread forth the gospel of Comme by wearing her creations around the city.

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      • Linda Lindroth

        by Linda Lindroth on May 7, 2017 at 9:48 pm

        Here is the Exhibition Guide PDF http://www.metmuseum.org/-/media/Files/Exhibitions/2017/Rei%20Kawakubo%20Guide.pdf

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        • Gracia Ventus

          by Gracia Ventus on May 7, 2017 at 9:49 pm

          Ah. This is very much appreciated. Thank you!

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        • Linda Lindroth

          by Linda Lindroth on May 11, 2017 at 8:58 pm

          I saw the exhibition yesterday. It was quite wonderful. You can get very close to the clothing except the pieces installed in glass boxes way above your head (not a good idea but I guess a space issue.) The exhibition was crowded for a Wednesday afternoon and there were some bottlenecks. Lots of people taking photographs all of which came out gorgeous because of the white cave backgrounds and the superb lighting. A special treat in the gift shop and not online was the 1982 Black Hole sweater which was redesigned especially for sale during the exhibition. 100% wool and beautifully made. $350. The two sweaters in the exhibition were hung so high you could not see the construction details but now I own one.

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          • Gracia Ventus

            by Gracia Ventus on May 18, 2017 at 6:31 pm

            How very kind of you to send me an update, and I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the exhibit. Gives me the motivation to make my way there before the exhibit ends. I think the organisers knew how important it is for clothes to come out well in photographs by now, since we’ve dived deep into the instagram age. Congratulations on acquiring the iconic sweater :)

  • Andrea

    by Andrea on May 7, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    If you can’t get here, you can buy the catalogue (amazon.com is the least expensive) which has all or most of the pieces, & a wealth of other insight into the exhibition. If you do come, give me a heads up- maybe we can meet for brunch!

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  • Lindsey Kanas

    by Lindsey Kanas on May 9, 2017 at 3:28 am

    I also agree with your beautiful, correctly written article. I confess, I am still let down a little by the people who still don’t care abut the theme of the night. Too bad they don’t let the normal people (non-celeb) go to this event. I would love to go…as I know others would too. And, we would embrace the theme too. I loved that Rick Owens and his awesome wife attended… and in theme. Again… I understand that maybe knowing the truth behind the scenes politics of the event…. but I still hope for the best night.

    Reply

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