2017 Met Gala  via video screenshot

2017 Met Gala via video screenshot

The Met Gala is one event which everyone in the fashion industry looks forward to.

Every year the Met Gala’s guest list makes headlines with their outfits. Next year’s Met Gala theme is “Fashion and Religion.”

The event itself is a fundraiser for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fashionistas make it an extremely ostentatious performance tying fashion to celebrity culture. Entry into this temporary rarefied atmosphere does not come easy. Ticket prices begin at $50,000 per guest. The guest list also is a super exclusive one. Designers team with celebrities to concoct looks as per the theme of that year's Met exhibition.

The theme of religion is not totally unfamiliar for the fashion industry. Jean Paul Gaultier sent models walking down the runway in 2007 wearing clothes with Catholic iconography. Organized spirituality was touched upon by Dolce & Gabbana in 2013 when their collection used models wearing Byzantine friezes tastefully converted into clothes. Designers can draw inspiration from the Metropolitan archives. The final exhibit could well turn out to be a beautiful one. The accompanying gala, however, may not be as clean cut as the clothes themselves.

The gala is advertised and seen as the biggest night in fashion. It is generally an excuse for a number of celebrities like Lena Dunham and Anna Wintour to make their presence known in whatever they interpret the theme to be. A few themes could be easier to interpret compared to others. To give an example, the theme for the 2015 exhibition was “China: Through the Looking Glass.” A majority of the celebrities did not venture into cheap cultural appropriation. Only two celebrities, Fan Bingbing and Rihanna, wore extremely beautiful dresses designed by skillful Chinese designers.

The religion theme, in this context, appears worrisome. Many fashion professionals are afraid a celebrity will appear in a burqa or dressed completely as Virgin Mary. Worse, a well-known singer could dress as a priest cosplaying as a nun. Many have found these themes as openly subversive. Whatever the dress, most fashion designers and their models crave to get a few specific celebrities like Anna Wintour's stamp of approval.

The Independent cites several examples of cultural appropriation by white celebrities to foreshadow what problems might arise at the 2018 Met Gala. Principle among these celebrities are Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Madonna. Lady Gaga has used crucifixes in her costumes and wore a burqa at one point during the promotion of her album Art Pop.

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