Encouraged by a global pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has shut its doors to all visitors. This means even the annual Met Gala is unable to go ahead. But what does this mean for those within the fashion industry for whom the ‘party of the year’ is more than just a party?
I don’t know about you but I really look forward to the Met Gala each year. There’s nothing better than judging the unique, outlandish outfits donned by public figures as they walk the red carpet into New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Of course, you’re not there amidst the glitz and glamour yourself; you’re sitting in your Matalan dressing gown at home, eating a slice of Bakewell tart and wondering why stars like Richard Madden have opted for a standard black tuxedo.
Its annual, colourful cavalcade of public figures plays an integral role in our celebrity-centred Western culture
The event is nicknamed the “Oscars of the East Coast” and its annual, colourful cavalcade of public figures plays an integral role in our celebrity-centred Western culture. Sadly, however, with COVID-19 having spread across the globe like bushfire, the 2020 Met Gala has been cancelled.
Even if this horrid virus ups and leaves with the next month or so, we simply won’t get to see this year’s theme ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’ come to fruition on a red carpet any time soon.
The cancellation of the gala is more detrimental than some might think
The gala’s indefinite postponement is unsurprising, given how vicious COVID-19 can be; 286,000 people have died from it worldwide as of 12th May 2020. The cancellation of the gala, however, is more detrimental than some might think. It spells a massive risk for those within the fashion industry, especially those who are just beginning to bloom in an environment that is already enmeshed in financial and creative setbacks.
Thanks to COVID-19, fashion freelancers are struggling to find work more so than before. Companies are trying to stay afloat with holes punctured in both of their sides. Governmental support for furloughed employees offers only temporary salvation. These wounds are then worsened by the fact the Met Gala is an esteemed event through which conversations around fashion aid the industry’s longevity.
With no noticeable light at the end of a very long tunnel, even the industry’s most famous faces are feeling subdued
The issues don’t stop there. The Metropolitan’s Costume Institute relies heavily on funds garnered through the Met Gala. The exhibition on what would have been 2020’s theme is still expected to run ahead in October, but with no noticeable light at the end of a very long tunnel, even the industry’s most famous faces are feeling subdued.
“There are millions up and down the economic scale whose livelihoods have been upended by this pandemic”
In a recent video on Vogue’s YouTube channel, editor-in-chief of the magazine Anna Wintour expressed her concerns with sombre articulation. Decked in an elegant black-and-white outfit, Wintour said, “The pain [the effects of the virus] is shared by those who work in the American fashion industry which has been hit so hard. There are millions up and down the economic scale whose livelihoods have been upended by this pandemic.”
Although the situation sounds pretty dire, like in any set of circumstances, there are still silver linings to be found. Both Wintour and style mogul Tom Ford have launched the initiative A Common Thread, alongside the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The initiative’s aim is to raise both awareness of the artistic plights caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and funds to support fashion workers, both nascent and established.
Elsewhere in the YouTube video, Wintour says almost $5,000,000 has already been raised. The roots of such a sum come from both small and large donations, but each root is cherished with gratitude by those in the industry. Without their presence, millions of people buzzing with potential would otherwise go unnoticed and fall into psychological, as well as financial, disarray.
Some public figures who were likely to attend the gala this year have managed to do so – just not in the literal sense. Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts posted a bathroom picture of herself on her Instagram account, in which a layered black-and-white dress accentuates her existing beauty.
Elsewhere on the app, Mean Girls actress Amanda Seyfried offered us a glimpse of her in a Cinderella-like dress, claiming it was what she was going to try and wear to this year’s gala.
On the surface, these couture-centric posts may seem superficial. But by talking about the Met Gala and all the stylistic technicolour that would have been displayed therein, many would say they’re helping to keep the fashion industry thriving during this crepuscular time. After all, our attention on fashion cannot be diverted if such an entity is dominating social media.
In a world now deprived of the enthralling, inspiring Met Gala, the opportunities of fashion do not have the same grandeur
The bottom line is, in a world now deprived of the enthralling, inspiring Met Gala, the opportunities of fashion do not have the same grandeur. Yet, deep down, we understand that COVID-19 and many of its effects are temporary, and learn to make do with the current situation.
We understand that despite the setbacks this pandemic is generating, charitable acts and discussions surrounding the fashion industry are helping to keep it afloat. In knowing this, we can invest in a belief that is often disputed by cynical lines of thinking: eclectic fashion will always find a way to ensue.
Ryan James Keane
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