MET BALL: In the Name of Fashion and Controversy

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been hosting an annual gala ever since 1948. Every year, this fundraising gala takes places for the benefit of the MET’s Costume Institute in New York City. It marks the grand opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit. The Gala is widely regarded as one of the most exclusive social events in New York and one of the biggest fundraising nights in the city with $9 million raised in 2013 and a record of $12 million the following year. Each year celebrates the theme of that year's Costume Institute exhibition, and the exhibition sets the tone for the formal dress of the night.

Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue and the chair of this event oversees both the benefit committee and the guest list. The annual guest list includes only 650–700 people, and is considered a very prestigious event to attend. People who weren’t on the guest list could purchase a ticket for a large sum, namely $30,000 in 2014. The guests pick their fashion to mirror the theme of the exhibit. This year, curator Andrew Bolton decided to pick a theme based on his studies on religion and fashion for the last five years. He named it, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

Rihanna was seen wearing a mitre and gown inspired by Papal opulence while Katy Perry wore a pair of angel wings. The Hadid sisters followed the idea of Saints and Sinners, where Gigi wore a highly detailed and bedazzled Versace that lent the effect of angel’s wings. The detailed body of the gown mimicked that of stained glass windows. Bella, on the other hand, pulled off a bad-girl glossy latex corset by Chrome Hearts Official, draped with a sculptural cape. She also wore fingerless gloves and a sky-scraping updo. Her updo had a 10-pound hair veil attached to it.

 

Blake Lively’s gown, also fashioned by Donatella Versace, stole the show. It was so grand that her bodice, having sheer panels on both sides, itself took 600 hours to embroider with beads. The bottom of the gown was red, with a lot of detail. Lively finished the look with a towering gold headdress.

Since the theme was set to display the influence of Catholicism on clothing, it did stir up some controversy. Greta Gerwig wore a nun-like ensemble, Ariana Grande wore a gown printed with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and Zendaya wore literal armor inspired by Joan of Arc. The Vatican had approved of the exhibit prior to the night, and had even lent the MET museum about 50 garments and accessories for the show. However, some Catholics thought that the event basically appropriated their religion into a fashion statement. People termed it as being sacrilegious, insensitive, offensive, and wrong.

Prestigious nights like the MET Gala often come without a hiccup. When there is fame, there is talk. While the fashion industry found a lovely platform to showcase their novel creations on celebrities, working critics managed to tear down some of the glamour for the event. What’s your take on the MET Ball?