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How the Met Gala Revolutionised Red Carpets

The Met Gala has taken place for over 70 years and over time has transformed the notion of red carpets. The event stages some of the most iconic and distinctive styles which are known to make a statement.

Editor-in-chief at Vogue, Anna Wintour has been Co-chair of the Met Gala since 1999. Within ‘The First Monday in May‘ she describes the atmosphere of the gala. She said it is: “A kind of theatre; the Met stairs and the famous red carpet has grown in spectacle over the years.”

A brief history of red carpets

Red carpets date back to Ancient Greece and were used within the Greek tragedy “Oresteia”.

The colour red links to art within the Renaissance era and has connotations of royalty and wealth.

The carpet continues to be symbolic of high status and prosperity. It was first used in Hollywood during 1922, for a film premiere of Robin Hood.

Now, the notion of a red carpet is an expected normality of the 21st century. Consequently, they are used for events and premieres. The carpets have become a popular source of media attention, and they are routinely lined with photographers. As a result, fashion has certainly become a pivotal focus. It has enabled people to express themselves and make social statements on the prestigious carpets.

The most memorable fashion statements made on red carpets can be found at the Met Gala, hosted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City.

The evolution of the Met Gala

The Met Gala has taken place annually since 1948. It has gained momentum and following ever since. The first gala consisted of a midnight supper and tickets cost $50 per person. Since then, the size of the event has escalated and now a guest list of 700 people are invited yearly.

These days, the evening sees a tour of the exhibition, a cocktail hour, formal dinner and a multitude of after parties.

The prior aim of the event is to raise funds for the costume institute. The red carpet spectacle is vital in providing the main source of income for exhibitions.

The event itself signifies the opening of a new spring exhibition. This focuses on a specific theme of which people can incorporate into their style. The most notable outfits fashioned by celebrities are inspired by the spring exhibition. Nonetheless, although some dress timidly, the majority of fashion designers demonstrate the themes through remarkable style.

Memorable Met looks

The event welcomes artistic interpretation of the themes and throughout the years this has showcased some incredible symbolic fashion.

Actor Jared Leto has been one to watch with his look from 2019. Styled by Gucci, Jared carried a model of his head as an accessory, alongside a red high neck gown.

Screenwriter, producer and actress, Lena Waithe has worn some of the most unforgettable outfits the gala has seen. In May 2018, the theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and Wes Gordon designed a statement style. The Carolina Herrera outfit consisted of a rainbow cape and two Verdura cross brooches. With the prevailing religious theme, the outfit highlighted LGBTQ+ representation and pride. Lena herself described the look as an “epic moment of defiance” (Instagram @LenaWaithe).

Additionally, during the “Camp: Notes on Fashion” exhibition in 2019, Lena wore a pinstripe suit. Importantly, the suit had the statement “Black drag queens invented camp” stitched on the back. The aim of the look, designed by Pyer Moss, was to pay tribute towards people who pioneered and contributed towards the camp concept.

Other looks which are of notable importance are those of Livia Firth. Her outfits are known for being the most sustainable at the event. Through founding Eco-Age, she is known to rewear gowns or fashion sustainable fabrics on red carpets. Livia’s 2019 gown was one of the most eye-catching with a vibrant floral pattern. The dress was designed by Richard Quinn, and was created on a digital printer, which meant zero waste was produced.

What to expect of the 2021 Met?

The 2020 gala faced cancellation because of the Covid-19 crisis. However, there is hope that the event will return and raise the funds needed to maintain the costume institute exhibitions.

Dependant on the coronavirus landscape, the gala should take place on Monday 3rd of May 2021. After a year of division and social injustice for many, it leaves us to wonder what the Met Gala 2021 theme will be. One thing is for sure that the event will continue to provide a red carpet stage for fashion in years to come.

We can expect to see more unique and creative outfits and interpretations of the themes.

The Met Gala will undoubtedly continue to mark some of the most powerful statements seen on red carpets and above all will transform future fashion.

You can keep updated on the latest Met Gala news at Vogue. For further information on fashion and red carpets, visit Mindless Mag.


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