Organizers of the 2022 Met Gala are weathering widespread criticism for the event’s theme, “Gilded Glamor and White Tie”, facing accusation of insensitivity to the worsening inflation most Americans are dealing with.
The annual gala’s sartorial theme follows the second part of curator Andrew Bolton’s two-part exhibition In America: An Anthology of Fashion, which explores the origins of American fashion. However, many onlookers have used social media to condemn Monday evening’s event for its extravagance and luxury as the nation grapples with a shrinking economy.
As “Gilded Glamor and White Tie” pays homage to the period of rapid prosperity, industrialization and growth in the US from 1870 to 1890, some have called it “out of touch”.
One user tweeted: “Am I the only one who thinks this years #MetGala theme is out of touch? inequality is at the highest levels since the Gilded Age, a pandemic & economic meltdown wrecked us, inflation is out of control … but cool, let’s wear #GildedAge themed dresses & laugh about inequality … this year’s theme is a slap in the face to average Americans.”
Another user pointed out the irony of such a theme amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, writing: “Gilded glamor at a time of war, let them eat cake,” referring to a quote commonly attributed to the French queen Marie Antoinette, who during the French Revolution allegedly suggested that starving peasants lacking bread could eat cake.
Last quarter, the American economy shrank for the first time since the recession that struck during the pandemic two years ago. US GDP fell by about 0.35% from January to March, or at an annualized rate of 1.4%, prompting experts to point to rising inflation, the Omicron variant and supply chain issues as factors.
The rising inflation and economic contraction suggests America’s economy is at a greater risk of a downturn, especially as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to pummel the global economy.
“It’s too-on-the-nose for the Met Gala to have a ‘Gilded Age’ theme on the same day we know the US economy is contracting,” a Business Insider reporter tweeted.
“The met gala this year is going to piss off people. The theme being gilded glamour??? And with everything going on this year yeah people will be mad lol,” another user tweeted.
Each year, the gala draws out the rich and powerful to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which is the only department at the museum that is required to raise its own funds.
The cost for a seat at last year’s gala started at $35,000, although some guests on the highly selective guest list are invited free of charge. The event, which is the institute’s primary source of income, raised more than $16.4m last year.
Last year’s gala also spurred controversy, as the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white gown that said “Tax the Rich”. The dress sparked backlash across the political spectrum, with critics condemning the move as both hypocritical and performative.
Ocasio-Cortez defended her actions, saying: “The medium is the message.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism