Arts Illustrated

July 24, 2020

The Red Carpet-Canvas

This month, in our Pop Book series, we look at the Met Gala – the extravagant stage where art is seen as fashion and fashion is seen as art

Vani Sriranganayaki

This year, unfortunately, with the pandemic crowding our consciousness, the first of May went by in quiet isolation. But a stark void was felt, when the next day, our social media feed didn’t blow up with news about Rihanna or Beyoncé; or the glitz, the glamour, or the sheer range of creativity that usually bursts onto the world stage every spring. For years, we’ve been conditioned to train our eyes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as it floods our imagination, on the first Monday in May, with the best of art, fashion and performance. I am talking of course about the Met Gala, the annual fundraising gala set up for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Established in 1948 as a way to raise money for the then newly-founded Costume Institute, the Met Gala has over the years evolved not just into a trend-setting, social event; but, since Anna Wintour assumed the chairmanship of the Institute in 1995, it has become a star-studded stage that constantly breaks new grounds.

2018 Met Gala Catholic Imaginatio Ariana Grande

Goddess Nephthys with gold hieroglyph, sarcophagus of Ramses III, Louvre.

More often than not, the stars attending the gala, whilst adhering to the prescribed theme, tend to toe the set trends – what with your regular tuxedos and floor-length, ball gowns. But of late, the slow ascend up the red-carpeted stairs has become this extravagant stage not just for fashion, but also opinions, statements and most importantly, performance.

Singer Janelle Monáe’s 2019 Met Gala ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’

2019 Met Gala Billy Porter

Be it Billy Porter arriving at the gala carried by six men in a gold-laden outfit; Jared Leto carrying his own head as an accessory; Cher setting the trend of the ‘Naked Dress’; or Lady Gaga embodying the very essence of a Russian doll – the red carpet is where the stars and the designers step up their wardrobe game to honour a carefully chosen theme. It is where art is seen as fashion and fashion is seen as art, and together, they redefine the very cultural fabric of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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