The Met Gala: A celebration of craftsmanship — or out-of-touch opulence?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

The Met Gala.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

With "Gilded Glamour" as this year's theme, the Met Gala was once again held on the first Monday in May, following a temporary pause due to the pandemic. While this fashionable fete is a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, it's also an excuse for celebrities, designers, socialites, and other movers and shakers to put on their most extravagant attire. It's a time to see and be seen — and be judged.

The parallels are right there

Before the event, there were critics who felt the theme was out of touch, with the Haves celebrating in their opulent gowns and tuxes, seemingly unaffected by issues like high gas prices and coronavirus cases on the rise. At the New York Post, Andrew Court wrote that gala organizers were being criticized by people "pointing out the problematic parallels between the Gilded Age and our current context — marked not only by growing inequality, but the highest inflation levels in more than 40 years."

This was addressed by some of the attendees. Riz Ahmed's outfit — an open jacket with a white tank top underneath and loose drawstring pants — was an homage to "the people without whom nothing gilded would exist," his stylist, Julie Ragolia, told Vanity Fair. "The laborers, the workers, the unseen. This look is for everyone who thinks they don't have a voice. They do."

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Focusing on the good

Some pundits focused on the craftsmanship and hard work that went into making the looks. Donatella Versace took the gilded theme and ran with it, putting Cardi B in a gown made with "more than a kilometer's worth of seven different types of gold chains," The Washington Post's Jada Yuan wrote, while Lizzo — carrying a $35,000 golden flute — wore an embroidered Thom Browne cape that took 35 hours to create. "An absolute queen," fashion writers Tom and Lorenzo gushed at Cosmopolitan. "The opulence is off the scale."

A divisive design

One of the most talked-about outfits was worn by New York City Mayor Eric Adams. He wore a bold custom jacket by Brooklyn-based artist Laolu Senbanjo, which was covered with drawings of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and Chrysler Building, as well as the words "End Gun Violence," with a handgun and the red "no" symbol. Before the gala, Adams told Bloomberg the "goal is to end gun violence and save our children." He also called the Gilded Age "a dark period, and we can't return to that period as we deal with income inequality, as we deal with embracing our immigrant population. We have to face real issues."

His jacket was applauded by Shannon Watts, founder of the grassroots anti-gun violence organization Moms Demand Action. "What a powerful message: END GUN VIOLENCE," she tweeted. It was also slammed by New York City public defender Olayemi Olurin, who wrote on Twitter, "When Eric Adams says ending gun violence, what he means is re-establishing the same violent police unit that was disbanded for racially profiling and brutalizing people, and passionately defending one of the officers shooting an 18-year-old in the head for running a red light." The comment was in reference to a controversial New York Police Department unit Adams revived that focuses on getting guns off the streets.

We interrupt this gala for some breaking news

After the gala's red carpet had already started, Politico dropped a bombshell, publishing what it said is an authenticated draft opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade. Writer Bess Kalb tweeted, "Let this be remembered as the night the Met Gala saluted the Gilded Age, a time of outrageous wealth disparity coated in a patina of luxury, while the Supreme Court sentenced poor women seeking reproductive freedom to death."

ICYMI podcast host Madison Malone Kircher also noted the drastic shift that came with Politico's stunning report, tweeting, "The [absolute] whiplash of a timeline full of only tweets of carefree celebrities on a red carpet at the Met Gala and tweets about SCOTUS deciding women have zero right to bodily autonomy."

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