Arts & Entertainment

Virtual Met Gala setting aside elitism this year

By Helen Cook

New York, May 4 (efe-epa).- There is no doubt that the Met Gala is the most anticipated fashion event of the year, but its elitist character, clearly visible in the long list of rich and famous invitees, has led many to treat attending it as an unattainable dream.

Until the coronavirus pandemic, that is, and now it is being held in a new way on the social networks, where anyone and everyone can participate, if they like.

In 2020, the queen of the Met Gala has not been Kim Kardashian or Rihanna or organizer Anna Wintour, but rather #HFMetGala2020 and the parallel universe of “high fashion” that exists on Twitter, with which the young people of Generation Z – those folks born between 1994 and 2010 – are expressing their creativity and displaying their fashion designs

Thus, on the first Monday in May, they will parade across the virtual red carpet at the big fashion event, needing only to post their contributions – with the corresponding hashtag – on the social network’s “wall of inspiration,” as the Met Gala organization announced, saying that the designs should reflect the “About Time: Fashion and Duration” theme.

The initiative came from the fertile mind of aerospace engineering student Aria Olson, 19, who – encouraged by the huge number of comments flooding the social networks with each Met Gala – about six months ago got the idea to try and organize a more structured flow of opinions via the “HF Twit Met Gala” Twitter account.

Among those attracted by the prospect was 21-year-old Colombian Alejandra Beltran, who is participating in the event from Bogota, where she is studying both fashion design and industrial engineering.

“When they cancelled the gala we said, ‘We’ll have to do something, we can’t let this day go by if it’s really always so important for everyone,'” she said in a conversation with EFE.

The team decided that this year the cyber-community should cross the line from being mere spectators and hold their own Met Gala, urging all fans of high fashion to present their own ideas in four different categories.

“The categories come from understanding what kind of dynamics people from our community have on Twitter. Some look at photos … others are more into looking at garments that big brands have made in the past, others like to paint or sew. And from that we got each of the four participation categories that we have,” Beltran said.

With more than 1,100 people signed up to participate, the young Bogota native said that they are really hoping that just 200 participate and that the popularity of their project really surprised them.

“This was never expected. We’re studying at the university and some people, in fact, are still in high school. It’s been a huge surprise,” she said.

Beltran said that “fashion is another way that people can really express who they are,” and with #HFMetGala2020 the celebrities, luxury and extravagance can be removed from the initiative and the gala can return to the basics that led to the creation of this event in 1948: the love for the textile industry.

“It’s a little too much the way in which the Met Gala is a really exclusive event that only celebrities … attend, well-known people, but also that the attention is not really placed on the fashion aspects, which is really what that exhibition is all about,” she said.

“Inviting only famous people because they are famous takes away that essence, and that’s what we wanted to rescue with this gala. Taking this completely elitist event and returning it to the people who want to participate, who have a creative soul, who love this whole part of the industry and are completely committed to these dynamics,” she said.

The virtual Met Gala, in addition, has a broader aim than the flesh and bone Met Gala in that in past years millions of dollars have been collected to finance the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Center in New York.

This young organization, which after the event will select the 15 best looks in each of the four categories, will collect funds that will go toward the “International Medical Corps” foundation and to efforts to fight against the coronavirus.

Nancy Aossey, the CEO and president of the International Medical Corps, said that she feels very inspired by the virtual Met Gala’s way of addressing fashion and by its ability to superimpose itself on the problems of this pandemic.

The Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala or the Costume Institute Benefit and also known as the Met Ball, is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City and marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. Widely regarded as among the most prominent and most exclusive social events in the world, it is also one of the biggest fundraising nights in New York City.

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