Reflecting on the 2022 Met Gala: The normalization of critiquing high-end fashion designers and brands

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Allisa Pandit

TikTok has enabled a new path for users around the world to judge red carpet looks — including those of the 2022 Met Gala.

Allisa Pandit, Innovation Manager

As consumers of media, every user, whether intentional or not, forms quick judgments on a snapshot of another’s life. But when it comes to celebrities, the judgment’s value grows exponentially. High profile events, including the Met Gala, thrive off of the attention of millions of everyday people. Add easy access to social media platforms to the equation, and seemingly innocent remarks could result in the destruction of a life-long career.

Known for short, humorous videos, TikTok has manifested itself as a hub for unfiltered commentary. Whether it be the lives of the Kardashians or a new celebrity scandal, TikTokers always have something to say. Senior Tanisha Nanisetty shared her love for the app. “Because the videos are short, TikTok shows me clips of celebrity scandals that I usually wouldn’t bother keeping up with. It’s fun to see what’s going on and what people comment about it. For example, the TikToks judging red carpet looks are one of my favorites to watch,” she said.

The highly anticipated 2022 Met Gala theme garnered attention from millions as the gilded glamor dress code, as agreed upon by the majority of viewers, failed miserably. The 2022 theme of  “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” composes the second half of the 2021 theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

While “a lexicon of fashion” geared towards the idea of America’s independence, “an anthology of fashion” alluded to the gilded age — leaving fans with a perception of satin and silk fabrics, frock coats and elegant gowns. At first glance, many Gala looks seemed to misinterpret the theme.

As a co-chair for the event, actress Blake Lively’s outfit was initially leaked as a mere photo from paparazzis. As TikTokers got their hands on the photo, videos claiming her basic, unfitting look creeped onto the internet. As more photos were released, it came to viewer’s attention that not only did her dress symbolize the Statue of Liberty, but Lively managed a full dress transformation on the carpet. Although the damage had already been done online, the public’s opinion had shifted.

Fashion designers work an entire lifetime in hopes of building a portfolio strong enough to capture the attention of a celebrity. Lively’s designer, Thom Browne, chose to dress the star in Versace. Had the opinions of the public not changed, Browne would have lost clients and respect for his fashion design — all because of everyday people with no background in fashion.

Junior Misty Marahatta recognized the reason many seem to dispute red carpet looks. “It’s always fun to have our own views and styles, so we like to judge things that are different from what we normally wear. But at the end of the day, they are expensive, thought-out looks that we shouldn’t judge just because they’re different,” she shared.

With a similar mindset, in a matter of minutes, the internet switched from creating a scandal to raving over Lively’s attire. But for many celebrities and fashion designers, this was not the case. 

For some designers, defamation of a life’s worth of work over one dress seemed to be fate. Media personality Kylie Jenner received harsh criticism over her Off-White wedding gown topped off by a backwards baseball cap. Dressed by the late Virgil Abloh, Jenner stated she was honored to commemorate the late fashion designer. Despite his passing, Abloh’s art was diminished as a “glow down,” further depreciating decades worth of his work, many argued.

While events such as the Met Gala begin with entrances filled with paparazzi waiting to report back to viewers, audiences must understand their role in high-end fashion. Lightheartedly sharing one’s opinion on a look is what runs publicity for such events, but when the remarks get out of hand, experienced fashion designers and righteous celebrities may lose credibility.