Protests In The Streets, Performance Activism in Designer Sheets

Abi Hilden, contributor 

Let me set the scene. Hundreds of celebrities attended a fashion gala, each with a ticket costing $35,000. They wore high priced outfits, featuring designers such as Michael Kors and Tom Ford. In their own little bubble, celebrating the theme of “In America: A Lexicon In Fashion.” Using their rights to protest, some celebrities, such as congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and model Cara Delevingne, wore outfits that made political statements. But these celebrities weren’t the only ones protesting that night. 

Outside of the bubble and just outside of the building, people were being slammed on the concrete by police for protesting on behalf of Black Lives Matter. Didn’t see that part on Instagram? Neither did I.

Protests outside, led by Black Lives Matter, were protesting the NYPD who guard the event. Organizers of the protest believe that NYPD’s budget of $11 billion per year is allocated towards racist policing practices which hurt communities that struggle to get resources.

Although I, as a white person, don’t have the same experience of BIPOC in our country, I support the Black Lives Matter movement wholeheartedly. The United States of America was built on the backs of BIPOC. They have to fight for their rights in a country that is systemically built to take them away. In an age fueled by social change and protest, you’d think the Met Gala would do more to honor the experiences of all Americans with their theme.

Not to mention the fact that BIPOC people are at the forefront of fashion itself and the trends that take over the world. From bucket hats to sneakers, BIPOC people have been the driving force behind so many fashion trends today and in the past. This begs the question, why are they not spotlighted in one of the biggest nights for fashion across the world?

The Met Gala is a party for the rich, white, and elite of American fashion. It is the perfect place to showcase the American experience in all of its forms, but it doesn’t. To attend the Met Gala, designers have to be personally invited by Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, and have their guest list approved. It seems extremely intentional to me that non-white designers have been largely omitted from attendance. The intentionality of this extends to the fact that the people behind the Met Gala have not even addressed the protests that happened outside of their event. This sends a clear message that they don’t want to amplify the voices of BIPOC people, no matter if they are protesting for their rights or designing stunning outfits.

Instead of being a beautiful celebration of all facets of American culture, this year’s Met Gala was quite the opposite. For 400 years, the voices of individuals of marginalized identities have been omitted and systemically shut down. The Met Gala can and should do better than the police shoving protestors to the concrete.