On May 1, 2023, crowds formed outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as well-dressed celebrities arrived for one of the most exclusive events of the year, the annual fundraising gala held for the benefit of the museum’s Costume Institute, celebrating richness, grandeur and extravagance: The Met Gala.
Despite the controversy surrounding this year’s theme – a commemoration of the designer, Karl Lagerfeld – the archival nature of the theme provoked many guests to favour vintage over new; this year’s Met Gala witnessed many rewearings of old outfits as well as the choice to wear vintage rather than have new pieces made especially for this event.
Sustainability was a hot topic this year that was highlighted and celebrated by many celebrities.
Many celebrities especially focused on Chanel because Lagerfeld was the Creative Director of the brand from 1983 until his death in 2019.
For example, Nicole Kidman rewore a Chanel gown that she had originally worn in the 2004 Chanel N°5 campaign with Lagerfeld, and according to People Magazine, she told La La Anthony (co-host of the event’s live stream) that: “If you take care of [vintage gowns] and love them, they are timeless.”
— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) May 1, 2023
Met Gala co-chair, Dua Lipa, also chose to wear vintage at the event, wearing a Chanel bridal gown from their Fall Winter 1992 Collection.
— Pop Base (@PopBase) May 1, 2023
This was a common trend for the night, as crowds also saw Penelope Cruz in a vintage gown from Chanel Couture’s Spring Summer 1988 collection.
— Variety (@Variety) May 1, 2023
However, as well as vintage fashion, sustainable designs were also featured in the glamorous celebration of Karl Lagerfeld. For example, Global Contributing Fashion Editor for Vogue Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and climate activist Maya Penn attended the Gala in Coachtopia; a sub-brand of Coach focused on circular fashion.
Maya 🤝 Met. Climate activist, designer and artist #MayaPenn makes her debut at fashion's biggest night in a custom #Coachtopia silk chiffon dress gathered from remnants and leftovers of the #CoachFall23 runway show. @mayasideas #MetGala pic.twitter.com/CWVP4syycz
— Coach (@Coach) May 2, 2023
Their gowns and bags contained elements of recycled pieces of material from the Met; this involved the Coach team going through the Met museum’s rubbish to source materials. In an interview with Bazaar, Penn explained:
“My custom Coachtopia gown is a vintage style romantic slip dress with a little grunge attitude created from leftover chiffon materials from the past runway shows and was dyed using dandelion flowers. The ruffles were embroidered with scrap vintage lace elements and the sequins are actually made from discarded bike tire tubes and aluminium soda cans. The trim was made from discarded VHS tapes acquired from rummage sales and secondhand shops, and the large flower appliqué was constructed from discarded plastic packaging waste along with scraps of antique lace. The jewellery is all vintage, the Wavy Dinky bag features repurposed literal ‘trash’ from the Met Museum such as ticket stubs and maps, street vendor napkins, plastic water bottles and more.”
This is an example of recycled fashion being emphasised in a new and exciting way; to attract attention in an event that values the polished and pristine.
Last night at the #MetGala climate activist Maya Penn and her stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson wore purses created from the trash from the Met Museum, including, water bottles, tickets, maps and aluminium foil #metgala2023 #sustainability #sustainablefashion pic.twitter.com/oHrukxCPb4
— Be Sustainable (@BeSustainable_) May 2, 2023
As the detrimental impact of the fashion industry is beginning to be realised, it is becoming more essential than ever to favour sustainability and popularise this in mainstream fashion.
The 2018 Copenhagen Fashion Summit revealed that the fashion industry produces 92 million tonnes of waste per year, and consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water. Fashion is one of the biggest polluters; it is responsible for 8-10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That is why it is important for popular fashion events such as the Met Gala to acknowledge this and showcase a new pathway into a more climate conscious industry.
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Prabal Gurung is a designer who also received praise at this year’s Met Gala for his sustainable designs, which were worn by Alia Bhatt, Anok Yai, Isha Ambani, Kelsey Asbille, Quannah Chasinghorse, Quinta Brunson, Rita Ora and Taika Waititi. Sustainability and social justice have always been the core of Gurung’s brand, and the social acknowledgement of these values is showcased by his popularity, especially in mainstream events such as the Met Gala.
In general, this year’s Met Gala favoured climate consciousness and emphasised the beauty of recycling and reusing. Another example was the giant centrepiece by Raul Àvila, the Met Gala’s event designer, which greeted attendees as they entered the museum and was created using thousands of recycled water bottles. He told Vogue:
“Given today’s climate, we wanted to highlight the importance of giving our everyday items more than one life cycle […] We wanted to find a way to create a sustainable design that would implement the bottles into a breathtaking installation unlike anything we’ve done before.”
As sustainability is showcased extravagantly at events like the Met Gala, we can hope that this encourages more and more people to favour second-hand fashion and recycling in their everyday wear.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: The The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Featured Photo Credit: Diane Picchiottino