The Met Gala brought the joy back to the red carpet

Words by Bianca O'Neill

Images via @violetchachki and @janellemonae/Instagram


For a long time now, red carpets have been unbearably dull. A couple of years ago I wrote about the increasing conservatism invading red carpet style, which I felt could be blamed on a combination of the rise of the professional stylist and the saturation of clickbaity ‘worst dressed’ online blog culture.

As someone who genuinely loves the theatre of red carpet fashion, and regularly shares red carpet rundowns of celeb style on my Instagram, I’ve been feeling like I’m out of a job of late.

But this is far from a fashion writer ruminating on the loss of the good old days of ‘bad dressing’ so I could deliver a series of gotcha moments online – rather, I missed the excitement of seeing something truly daring walk down the ruby rug. I missed the performative aspect of celebrities attending events, displaying their personal take on style, showing us who they really are – far from the anxiety of being labelled (shock, horror) unstylish.

This week’s Met Gala, however, changed EVERYTHING.

Perhaps it was the theme – referencing Sontag’s joyful rundown of what ‘camp’ fashion is – that inspired more conservative celebs to throw caution to the wind. Maybe it was the theme’s impact on the invite list that delivered a cacophony of interesting and diverse attendees who would truly welcome the chance to embrace the notion of a costume gala. After all, it’s hard not to assume we were going to get a great show when Lady Gaga has been allocated 15 minutes of solo performative fashion-art time at the top of the carpet.

But it was more than that; the extension of invitations to interesting people rather than the usual PYTs saw our first drag queens grace the steps of the Met, Aquaria & Violet Chachki, as well as activist Sinéad Burke in custom Gucci – the first little person to attend the event. So, a year of firsts.

Yes, hitting those ‘first’ milestones is important. However, it was more than that, wasn’t it? It was Wintour, who notably approves every invitee on the guestlist, and by extension Vogue, displaying that we are truly ushering in a new era in fashion – one of inclusivity.

Can we take joy from that, for a second? Inclusivity! From Vogue! A magazine that rarely feels inclusive. 

This year’s Met Gala was a celebration of otherness. No longer were the camp, the unusual, the expressive, the over-the-top, the outrageous – and even just the different – relegated to the periphery of the biggest fashion event in the world. Instead of looking in from the outside, they were celebrated. They were included.

And if that doesn’t make you feel joy, then nothing will. Well that, and Katy Perry in a chandelier.

Follow Bianca’s red carpet recaps over at @bianca.oneill

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