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  • Manuela El-Bacha

The Met Gala 2024

There is one specific night on the first Monday of May where fashion, art, music, cinema, and history all blend together. What many could call a fundraiser event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute in New York City is instead seen as fashion's biggest night of the year by the majority. This is the Met Gala. 

Artists from all over the world are invited by remarkable fashion brands to exhibit their iconic pieces, ideally following the theme of the year– a part that many ignore. The event is organized by Vogue Magazine, but since 1995 the chairperson behind the event has been Anna Wintour. 

This year, the Met Gala’s theme was “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” and thus the new exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum will display about 250 unique items from the Costume Institute’s collection, covering 400 years of fashion. The meaning behind the theme is the "reawakening" of historical pieces that were strongly preserved and sometimes forgotten because of their fragility sparking an ongoing debate that has been going around the fashion industry: Is it worth hiding a piece because of its fragility and at the same time letting it be forgotten? 

The theme of "The Garden of Time," was inspired by the short story produced by the British writer J.G. Ballard in 1962. It is worth highlighting that many celebrities tend to ignore the dress code and instead go according to their individual desires to represent an idea or cause they support.

Even if many argue that this year the Met Gala was a failure, I believe that some pieces carried the event on their backs. Undoubtedly there were terrible looks that were out of the theme and hardly creative, but I believe what is  worth spending time on is valuing the highlights rather than reviewing them.

Starting strong with the two stars of the night wearing vintage Givenchy: Kendall Jenner and Zendaya. 

The nepo baby/model styling from the autumn-winter high couture collection of 1999-2000 Givenchy, signed by Alexander McQueen, was never worn before! The collection never got the chance to see the runway as McQueen decided to present his pieces in mannequins so the models would not steal the show. By wearing a long black dress, Kendall was the first and only person to ever have the honor of dressing in a piece from the collection. 

Zendaya has recently become a fashion icon. She has the legacy of always dressing according to the theme, and the show she did on the Met's "red" carpet was no different. The actress not only impressed us all with one dress, she did the favor of impressing with two! 

Is it too weird to give all of these compliments and say that her first dress was not beautiful? Fashion is not only about beauty and neither is the Met Gala. In my opinion, for a look to be outstanding when going up the Stairs of the Metropolitan it needs to also involve the theme, drama, and history. Taking all that into consideration, Zendaya and John Galliano, the stylist responsible for this look, designed a Maison Margiela referencing a haute couture look that Galeano himself designed at Christian Dior in 1999. The peacock-style and colored dress was strategically chosen to follow the "The Garden of Time" theme. 

On the other hand, Zendaya's second look was beautiful - and yes, still original, dramatic, and on-theme! She was wearing a black dress from Givenchy created by Galliano, from the Spring/Summer 1996 collection, paired with a helmet crafted from a bouquet of about two dozen roses, designed by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen's Spring/Summer 2007 collection. If this is not breathtaking, dramatic, and genius, I have no clue of what could be. 

Continuing strong we have Mona Patel, an Indian businesswoman in the field of fashion. Her first-ever appearance at the Met Gala was enough for people to rave over her amazing look by Iris Van Herpen. If looking closer to her look you'll notice moving flower petals around her arms, slowly fluttering, the perfect touch made by motion artist Casey Curran, who started working on it months in advance and finished just the day before it appeared on the red carpet. Other than that, the "tail" of the dress had drama and movement with many curves, reminding people of flower petals.  

Balmain could easily be considered one of the brands that innovated the most on the Carpet this year. Dressing the singer Tyla in an extremely slick dress made out of real sand was genius! The dress was inspired by an hourglass, therefore the dress was very tight on her recreating the object's shape. The dress was so perfectly fit that Tyla was not able to walk the stairs without being carried by security!

Another perfect highlight of Balmain was the actress Elle Fanning, wearing a dress inspired by glass. Other than being a beautiful look with its sculpture aspect, it was the most on-theme possible. Elle was able to carry the "flower" idea inside the theme, but very different from what apparently half of the celebrities did, which was merely putting on a floral gown and pretending it was innovative. Elle was inspired by the following sentences from the story and theme of the Met Gala "The Garden of Time": “The flowers grew to a height of about six feet, their slender stems, like rods of glass, bearing a dozen leaves, the once transparent fronds frosted by the fossilized veins. At the peak of each stem was the time flower, the size of a goblet, the opaque outer petals enclosing the crystal heart. Their diamond brilliance contained a thousand faces, the crystal seeming to drain the air of its light and motion.” As I said before, genius! 

Last, but not least, a Brazilian was one of the few who stole the show at the Met Gala with her gorgeous Tory Burch. Bruna Marquezine - the fashion icon, actress, and far more than just "Neymar's ex" - was responsible for the deed. Burch described her work along with Bruna as blending modern style with old techniques. They used a handcrafted corset and a layered hoop skirt. Hand-cut silk flowers were also a highlight, in shades of ivory, light green, and rust, meant to look like aged, preserved flowers that are attractive but not too precious. They did a classical, on-theme, dramatic, fresh, and beautiful look. Bruna was able to go up those stairs for the first time with a masterpiece!

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