Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the historically biggest night of the fashion calendar also fell victim to the necessary lockdowns put in place. It is undeniable the influence different shows and events contributes to the business and cultural atmosphere of fashion; fashion shows, galas, and exhibits are an integral part of the industry that not only gives designers and couture houses ways to unveil new collections or pieces, but also allows for a celebration of the groundbreaking creativity that feeds the fashion industry, and in the case of the Met Gala, using celebrities as this communicative window. Arguably fashion’s biggest night of the year, the first Monday in May scheduled yearly as the biggest night of the year, will not take place as planned this year. The event, which celebrates the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is orchestrated in collaboration with Vogue, and is an event of such high standing that May’s first Monday is the only day besides Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day the museum closes to visitors.
As a result of the ongoing epidemic that has forced a lockdown on every industry and displaced the day to day lifestyles of most creative professionals, we’ve had to witness the postponement and cancellations of some of our favorite fashion shows and exhibits throughout the spring fashion season. We may continue to do so for subsequent important fashion seasons. Rightly so, for the health and wellbeing of employees, models, guests, and attendees, but still worth mourning is the indefinite pause on one of the most riveting times of the year for fashion. Many renowned fashion houses, like Chanel, Hermes, Versace, and Dior, have had to cancel the upcoming May 2020 cruise showings, and others have had to take the inevitable decision to cancel or postpone.
Met Gala, also known as the Met Ball, is an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. As an incredibly significant event marked by its yearly fashion and art theme, it dictates the overall tone of participating designers in the gala, dressing some of the most influential and well-known celebrities, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. Organized by Vogue and founded by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, the Met Gala has been a New York spring fashion event staple since 1948. While the event itself is a financial fundraiser in support of the Costume Institute, the Met Gala has no doubt been considered one of the most celebrated celebration of fashion as art. Each year, the impressive guest list takes over the media world by storm as the looks designed for each famous patron take center stage. From Rihanna’s gold Guo Pei gown moment in 2015 to Zendaya’s 2018 Joan of Arc-inspired Jean Paul Gaultier look, the Met Gala’s fashion moments are not only a testament to the incredible designers but also to the art that goes behind how those same designers and celebrities take on the event’s iconic yearly themes. The 2020 Met Gala may have been indefinitely postponed, but its 2020 theme happens to be a coincidentally perfect way to commemorate the creative industry for what it is.
The 2020 Met Gala would have been a milestone for itself and the Costume Institute as this year marks this annual night’s 150th anniversary. Due to this significant milestone, the institution chose to exhibit a series of collections this spring of a century, and a half of fashion history pulled from the museum’s archive. Vogue announced earlier this spring that the Met Gala’s theme for this year would be “About Time: Fashion and Duration.” Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator, told Vogue he hoped the spring theme and exhibit this year would showcase the history of fashion and the fashion industry as heterogeneous and reimagined to be something open-ended rather than straightforward and linear. The 2020 theme was meant to highlight this notion of fashion as something tethered to time, and that perhaps while there are silhouettes, styles, and even fabrics that are closely related to specific eras and centuries, fashion overall is something that is simply existing in the present. The exhibition and the theme itself is meant to be ephemeral and would be showcasing the cyclical, juxtaposing, folded moments of fashion and crossing paths with different fabrics, designers, and historically ‘unique’ looks. Perhaps what we would have seen that night are ways in which various designers featured in the event would take the theme of time and present an aspect of fashion that itself is timeless.
Nevertheless, the indefinite postponement of the 2020 Met Gala counts as yet another downside to global lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The Costume Institute’s fundraiser is widely considered as one of the most critical nights of fashion each year, and the indefinite decision of when it will occur has put designers, guests, and admirers of the event in limbo. While it is incredibly imperative to address the fashion industry during these times and putting attention to the focus on how it will operate during and after the pandemic, it is just as imperative to pay attention to what the fashion industry stands for as a whole. It is challenging to question how the creative industry will survive and thrive afterward, but perhaps the Met Gala’s supposed theme says it quite best. Fashion itself, outside of it being an industry, is something consistently present. At its very core, fashion is a celebration of creativity and art. It has been so throughout time, so while the fashion industry has been unwillingly put on pause, fashion, in general, will never be. However, the creative industry has found itself economically-strained and creatively-fraught during these unfortunate circumstances. Still, perhaps this begs the question of what a modern fashion culture really should be without the redundancy of the shows that have defined it in the past decades. Coming out of the global crisis would undoubtedly mean that we would slowly begin recovering. It would take quite a while before the industry was where it once was prior – but would the abundance of fashion events that once dominated fashion culture be just as prevalent as it once was, or would we be saying goodbye to a handful of them?
How dare you, not?