Another high-profile event falls victim of Covid-19. The Met Gala, the most important first Monday in May in the fashion calendar, has been cancelled. The Gala was previously cancelled only once, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers.
Epitome of a modern star-studded fundraiser (all guests personally approved by Anna Wintour, chairwoman of the Costume Institute since 1995), the 2019 gala raised a staggering $15 million, with tickets selling at $30.000 and tables going for $275.000. This year’s theme, ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’, inspired by 1992 Sally Potter film Orlando was sponsored by Louis Vuitton and co-chaired by Nicolas Ghesquière, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, and Anna Wintour, of course. Due to the unpredictability of the situation, the opening of the exhibition bearing the same name is now being postponed.
If Haute Couture shows somewhat retain an aura of aristocratic exclusivity and generate relatively high yet narrow visibility, the Met Gala has brought together popular culture and creative extravaganza under the aegis of unifying cultural theme to a massified audience. Last year’s theme – Camp: Notes on Fashion – generated over 40,000 online mentions on the evening, resulting in over 1 billion impressions with Twitter being the favoured social media outlet and just over 50% of mentions being posted there. Moreover, the vast majority of posts were positively portraying the event, reinforcing the fact that even a fashion faux pas at the Met Gala is worth of social media attention. The benefit for brands and their guests is beyond obvious.
However, the financial loss for the Costume Institute will be significant as the gala is its main fundraising event. With the Met closed till further notice, tickets and collateral sales (publications and merchandising) will be non-existent this year as well. The Met will have to rely on private donations more than ever before, despite its strict guidelines on donations. Last year the Sackler family, makers of Oxycontin painkillers, was taken off the list of donors due to their implication in the US opioids crisis.