Words by Robyn Cowie 

The Met Gala is returning to roll out the red carpet after an eighteen month hiatus due to the pandemic. First cancelling the event last year and then postponing it this year. The Super Bowl of fashion, shall be back … but should anyone really care at this current time? 

The event is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute and marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit, with the Met Ball celebrating the theme of that year’s exhibition. Guests are expected to take inspiration from the theme. The event is considered “the jewel in New York City’s social crown”. With the media’s fascination of the event, its themes, attendees and red carpet growing ever since Anna Wintour became chair to the event in 1995. The event is expected to be an even more intimate event, due to the rise in the Delta variant sweeping across the United States. 

Rather than the first Monday in May, the Met shall on the 13th of September, with the year’s postponed costume institution exhibition, ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’. A theme which has already caused heated debate. Seemingly the Gala is yet again choosing a theme which can garner offense and has in the past been in poor taste. Surely, a far more light hearted rather than deeply political theme would be a warmer welcome for this event after the chaos of a pandemic. 

The event itself, regardless of its theme, has already garnered toxic debate. In August, a face seating plan for the event taking place the following month went viral. The instagram account @_metgala2021 began posting possible guest lists for the event. Amid some familiar Met Gala attendees were young internet stars. What sparked outrage was an unconfirmed seating chart was posted. Taking into account the already leaked influencer-saturated guest list, the seating chart placed influencers alongside some of the world’s leading celebrities. 

This controversy showed how much the media has changed since the last proper gala, and although it is inevitable for the event to probably embrace more internet creators and social media influencers. The response and treatment by both the media and those on social media, show how toxic the hotly anticipated event has already become, which is ironic considering it is a closed event for the world’s most rich and famous, so why are so many people, who in their wildest dreams would never be garnered the opportunity to attend care so much? 

There is a general fear that its return shall be underwhelming to say the least. It was recently announced the event would include a mask mandate, which raised concerns about the need for the event whilst still in the depths of a pandemic. Famously the Met Gala is for famous people to enjoy and the masses to observe from a great distance. The event itself is a timely reminder of something the pandemic made clear, if you have the money and prestige, you can enjoy things which for many have been lost.

The Gala is going ahead despite many questioning if it would be better to simply wait until next year, when the Met Gala can truly return. With that first Monday in May heralding perhaps a new era within this pandemic, where both guests and observers of the event can enjoy it in all its glory. Good things come to those who wait, and this coming Met Gala is one which shall be interesting to see if the risk of going ahead with the delayed gala was worth it or whether it shall be yet another thing which shall be tainted and by the pandemic. 

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