Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
7 May 2019updated 23 Jul 2021 10:52am

Why I love the Met Gala

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Watching a crowd of millionaires arrive at a public museum for a deliberately hyper-elitist event of debauched pageantry is the kind of thing that should make you want to scream: “EAT THE RICH!” So why do I follow the Met Gala, fashion’s gaudiest red carpet affair? Held every May at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a guest list tightly controlled by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, the Gala launches the Met’s summer costume exhibit with a matching themed dress code.

Perhaps it’s because the theme is so often slippery and sly. Recent themes have included punk, Chinese fashion, Catholicism and the work of Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo; this year’s was camp. These are not straightforward dress codes, nor are they intended to be. This is a time for extravagance and daring. Woe betide the guest who is not “on theme”, or worse: dull.

Celebrities do not find it hard to be beautiful. Their beauty is usually to thank for their celebrity, and the wealth of fame can buy much of what beauty is: glowing skin, perfect teeth, the luxury of an exercise regime, rich girl hair. But the Met Gala does not ask its guests to be beautiful: it asks them to engage with fashion concepts. Often they flounder and fail. Like watching an office outsider trying to forcefully laugh their way into an inside joke, it’s painfully obvious when they just don’t get it.

It’s a rare delight to see a rich, gorgeous celebrity looking out of place. The losers sat watching at home get the power of judgement. “UGH, SO NOT ON THEME,” I shout at another stiff, under-dressed actor, scrolling through my phone from my bed in a ratty T shirt. Or: “WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT?!” Or, occasionally, “YES!” The best thrill of all: the joy of a witty, bold, winning look. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes

This article appears in the 08 May 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Age of extremes