The influencer wears Prada – The Cowl
The influencer wears Prada
How Social Media Stars Downgrade the Importance of the Met Gala
by Ashley Seldon ’24
The Met Gala has always stood out in the long list of red carpet events held each year because of its unique themes. It’s the biggest night in fashion where top celebrities honor New York City wearing unique dresses and other ensembles created by iconic haute couture designers. It celebrates fashion as an art form and allows celebrities to wear unique looks that don’t have to be glamorous or supersexualized like other red carpet events.
The stars invited to the Met Gala have generally influenced the fashion industry in one way or another and may have already developed strong relationships with these designers through parties and other events. Usual attendees are NYFW models, renowned actors and actresses, as well as talented musicians and athletes. Just being a celebrity doesn’t necessarily grant access to this exclusive event. For example, the entire Kardashian family has been invited except for Kourtney and Khloe as they lack a strong fashion influence. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour personally invites these celebrities to the fundraiser.
Knowing about the Met Gala exclusivity, it was shocking to many that TikTok star Addison Rae was invited to this year’s event. Rae has 84.6 million subscribers on the app, where she gained fame for posting 30-second dance clips. Recently Rae released the movie He is all that on Netflix, which received a lot of reviews. Twitter tore up the film; one user, @HistoryofPopcorn, tweeted: “Grievous and expected disappointment is how we describe He’s All That from Netflix.”
In the past, other social media influencers have attended the Met Gala, such as Liza Koshy and Emma Chamberlain. However, the difference is that Koshy was invited to interview celebrities walking the carpet, and Chamberlain had a trademark deal with Louis Vuitton. TikTok stars, in general, have been criticized for reaching fame by stealing dances created by lesser-known black artists or designers. Since Rae has the famous “it girl” look, she gets more views and likes than the creators doing the choreography that she mimics. So the fact that she’s just a famous TikTok star shouldn’t have granted her an invitation to the Met Gala.
Although Rae has entered into a branding deal with American Eagle and has launched a makeup line available from Sephora, these are more commercial businesses. Unlike Chamberlain, she didn’t make a name for herself in the high fashion industry. Rae’s invitation devalues the high status required in previous years to get to the Met Gala. She set a precedent that any famous and pretty social media influencer can mark an invite. Could this cause Wintour to invite Instagram models or other barely famous people in the future?
A viral Tik Tok exploded in the weeks leading up to the Met Gala when reviewing a leaked image of the seating arrangement. Video made by @charlesgross shows Addison Rae reportedly sitting next to fashion icons Donatella Versace and Naomi Campbell and across from world star Beyoncé. The comments section exploded with one user saying, “My honest opinion is that influencers shouldn’t be allowed at something like the Met Gala. You tell me that Addison Rae / James Charles hold the same power as Lady Gaga or Donatella Versace ”(koicrystals). While fact-checkers later proved the picture to be wrong, the idea that Rae, a person famous for his fast-paced dance clips, would be in the company of people who paved the way for trendsetting and fashioning. the perception of fashion as art was disturbing.
Rae wasn’t the only Gen Z in attendance; maybe Anna Wintour is trying to push the high fashion industry towards a younger audience. While the Met Gala has never been a marketing event, it is meant to showcase the look of the creators and present a traveling gala of their art. Perhaps this was a first attempt to reach those who had not yet discovered haute couture.
Rae wore a vintage red Tom Ford dress with a classic blonde bob. She tried to channel old Hollywood glamor for the Met’s theme: American fashion. Nonetheless, her look was very simple compared to other celebrities who use the Met Gala to send a social or political message. Often times, these looks aren’t meant to be effortlessly beautiful, but something that the average person questions. The outfit should be interpreted like most works of art and force viewers to speculate on the designer’s intentions regarding the theme. Rae addressed the backlash around his invitation, saying, “Everyone who supports me, I love you and thank you for everything. It means the world, and I couldn’t do this without you guys! Overall, her presence as a D-List celebrity devalues the elite air that the Met Gala once had.