I like fashion, but the pretentious Met Gala grotesquery made me physically repulsed
I don’t want to think of myself as too narrow-minded to understand the intent behind what is essentially a corporate-sponsored experimental fancy dress party for celebrities. In fact, I would venture that I myself have worn much riskier choices relative to the normal people around me (and I don’t have fawning assistants and fashion editors to validate my every sartorial idiocy).
But, seriously: Jared Leto in a crystal-harness gown holding his own head, corseted actor Ezra Miller with seven eyes on his face, performer Billy Porter carried in on a palanquin by six bare-chested buff men in lame trousers.
Yes, I know that the theme was camp, the justification for all the over-the-top gaudiness.
Yet I did not see any camp. Camp is playful and self-aware. The celebrities did not stand there and poke fun at how silly they looked, they posed with Blue Steel faces on the red carpet in the middle of not a burlesque cabaret, but one of the stuffiest invitation-only charity events in America. Pretension is the enemy of irony, and if there was any camp it was mostly unintentional. So, more like kitsch. Maybe Katy Perry, dressed as a hamburger and a chandelier, got it, though this seems to be just her taste anyway.
Mostly, what I saw was an aggressive elitism – “we celebrities wear outfits costing tens of thousands of dollars each that show you that we are nothing like normal people, and though you don’t get it, you will sit there and lap it up, while we cackle about how easily impressed you are.”
Attention-seeking – four dresses for Lady Gaga, the train of Cardi B’s dress that required 10 people to just carry it, actress Hailee Steinfeld in a dress embroidered with the words “No Photos Please” (haha, very meta).
Facile attempts to be on-message – the gender-switching that would be tiresome even if it wasn’t an idea that simultaneously arrived in the minds of a dozen different designers. Pop star Harry Styles in his sheer top, Kristen Stewart looking for all intents and purposes like a man, actor Michael Urie dressed as a performing Thai ladyboy. We get it.
But the worst sin of all is just how ugly a lot of it was. Now, this is a judgment call, but clothes exist in a frame of reference that both consumers and creators share that comes from our visual culture. A dress does not look like a car, and a dress in the shape of a car looks wrong. A lot of what the celebrities wore looked… stupid. Unflattering. Semiotically bankrupt. Aesthetically unappealing.
The entire event just came off as a parody of what “fashion” is, as if designed by someone who hates it. All the most offensive clichés about fashion victims in one place – and completely self-inflicted.
Now, some might say that this is of no importance – who cares, let them wear what they want.
But considering the all-out ridiculousness that was on display, not a single mainstream media source brought it up. Even though the comments underneath articles from even the most progressive outlets were filled with the same exasperated sighs as my own.
Eventually, someone has to say that the emperor has no clothes – in this case near literally. Because if we can’t even lift the veil of silence on this, what other cultural issues can we no longer be honest about? Why are we submitting to the tyranny of celebrity values?
I no longer want to. It’s not like they will disinvite me from next year’s gala.
By Igor Ogorodnev
Igor Ogorodnev is a Russian-British journalist, who has worked at RT since 2007 as a correspondent, editor and writer.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.