There’s no denying that almost everyone was excited to see the coveted Met Gala return. After the two year hiatus caused by the pandemic and the longing to gawk at exquisite couture once again, it was a privilege to witness an in-person event we used to take for granted.
While there were some remarkable designs graced by unprecedented influential figures like Amanda Gorman, AOC and Carolyn Maloney, there was still one overarching issue that didn’t quite sit well: the theme.
For the first time in recent history, we all faced a global catastrophe together as time stopped in March 2020 for everyone around the world. The world was united in its efforts to create a vaccine, connect with one another and reach an end as a community. The time spent in isolation served as an opportunity to discuss greater issues like racism and classism that the hustle and bustle of everyday life seemed to brush over, especially among the 1% usually in attendance at The Met.
Even the fashion industry used the sweeping shutdown to rethink how a standard fashion show looked and tried to improve the diversity, not only in campaigns, but across boardrooms.
It felt like the world was separated, but united. The overwhelming feeling of interconnectivity in a time of desolation left me disappointed when I heard the chosen inspiration for the 2021 event. I was not disappointed in the couture being worn, however, but the theme that inspired the pieces.
For those who do not know, this year’s theme was titled, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”. As always, the theme coincided with the exhibit set to open after the gala. While Andrew Bolton, the Curator in charge of the Costume Institute had meaningful intentions stating, “I’ve been really impressed by American designers’ responses to the social and political climate” when discussing the theme, there was still a sense of a missed opportunity.
Why couldn’t the directors of the event take this return to high fashion as a chance to honour designers worldwide who have responded well to the changing climate of the fashion industry, instead of promoting American designers above other talented creators?
After waiting two years to see the Met Gala return, why did the theme feel like a return to isolation? While there is no doubt I was impressed with the exceptional designs after everything we have faced as a global community in the past year, I was longing to see a lexicon of inclusivity rather than American fashion.