Black American culture was missing from the Met Gala red carpet
The Met Gala, fashion’s most anticipated and glamorous red carpet event, took place last night (September 13) and there’s plenty to unbox. Usually held in May, the gala has moved to New York Fashion Week this year due to COVID-19. Require vaccines attending, the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute hoped to return to normal this year, focusing its two-part fashion exhibition on a range of american fashion. Yet the execution of this year’s theme, “In America: a fashion lexiconReminded all of us what “normal” is to guardians of American fashion.
Had the Costume Institute figured out its own theme, black designers would have flooded both the red carpet and this year’s show. But there were only a handful of black American designers featured (as well as many non-American designers like Dior, Chanel, and Versace). If we are being honest it is no accident. To attend the gala, the creators pay at least $ 275,000 for their tables and inviting celebrities – (which Vogue EIC Anna Wintour personally approves – to wear their clothes directly. This makes it even more difficult for black designers to participate.
British NASCAR driver Lewis Hamilton took it upon himself to spotlight emerging and established black talent. Being interviewed on the red carpet by VogueHamilton made it clear that he was walking and talking. He told the host of the gala and R29 Undisturbed Creative Advisor Keke Palmer, “I’m really lucky. Anna Wintour accepted that I host my table. I brought in four amazing talented young black designers, and so we’ve got a crowd of people tonight and it’s just about showcasing beauty, excellence, and talent. The designers he spoke about are Kenneth Nicholson, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio and Jason Rembert of Aliétte. These designers are American fashion.
Hamilton’s statement just showed how disappointing his peers were. If there had ever been a time for the celebrities who have spoken out about diversity and inclusion over the past year to push back the status quo and demand which designers they work with, the Met Gala would have been the perfect time. The time to really represent and show black culture in fashion was yesterday, and it flopped. It was a disappointment, yes, but also a missed opportunity to shed more light on a greater number of designers. Creators like Claude Kameni, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Telfar Clemens – which, moreover, are also in the museum exhibition. Sadly, not everyone can travel during a pandemic to see the New York City exhibit, so it would have been great to see these black designers on the red carpet for the live broadcast.
Black cultural references were missing on the red carpet last night, and that was a major loss as we know we’re showing up and steer the conversation everywhere else in fashion – in our everyday life and on the streets, then it comes back to us in magazines and catwalks. We play such a big part in what the fashion sense of America really is, from streetwear culture to flapper style and everything in between.
The time to really represent and show black culture in fashion was at the Met Gala, and it was a flop.
With the exception of Keke Palmer channels Diana Ross, Natalia Bryant’s ode to the 1960s, and Rihanna’s nod to the roaring twenties and 90s With her headdress and beanie (although we’d expect something more), the biggest confusion is that most of the looks didn’t seem to refer to a decade or period in American fashion.
Would have been great to really see the 70s disco bell bottoms, the 80s acid washed denim or epaulettes, and even an ode to the late 90s / early 2000s, especially hipster. -hop. showcasing streetwear legends Misa Hylton and April Walker. Alongside Dapper Dan and Aurora James of Brother Vellies and the 15 Percent Project, we would have liked to see a plethora of black creative women, ready to have their pictures taken by the hundreds of cameras lining the carpet. Women like Carly Cushnie who founded the American fashion house Cushnie, whose clean styles and silhouettes really could have served a moment on the carpet. Fashion girls would have lived to see Hanifa’s Anifa Mvuemba create a sophisticated custom design for this year’s theme, or to see the stunning prints of Fe Noel and Tracy Reese take on the theme with her retro-inspired taste. The material was there and yet, again, it was overlooked.
Blacks are the culture and style that sticks out on fashion moodboards and while we enjoyed our icon’s few celebrations, this year’s Met Gala didn’t give away the full history of American fashion. Even though we are included in the exhibit, if the powers that be within the fashion industry really wanted to make a statement, a little more effort should have been done to ensure that black American designers were included in the show. every facet of the event. It is clear that a fresh perspective and a fresh outlook on decision-making is definitely needed at the Met Gala. This year’s mess is just another reason Black needs to be in the room in positions of power, not begging for a seat at a 275,000 table. Again, neglecting deserving black talent is. as American as it gets.
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