The Met Gala is an annual event held as a fundraiser for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s various costume exhibits. It has a reputation for being both extremely exclusive and glamorous, but from its beginnings in 1948, the Gala has not always been like this.
The gala supports the annual costume exhibit, which is the only one in the museum that has to attain its own funding. As a result, this benefit is held every year for the purpose of raising money. In its early years, New York’s rich elites and socialites received the invites — the locals who had a direct connection to the museum — instead of the celebrities that attend now.
The new focus on who the gala invites instead of what the invitees are wearing defeats the purpose of The Met Gala. Fashion lovers from all around the world can go the Metropolitan Museum of Art and admire the preserved historical clothing in each exhibit.
Along with the higher profile in guests came the tradition of dressing in honor of the exhibit’s annual theme. This year, the exhibit’s focus is “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” with clothing from the famous time in the United States, ‘The Gilded Age.’ Usually, designers stick to the ever changing theme picked every year by the committee — but with liberal interpretation.
When I first heard that Kim Kardashian was going to be wearing Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress, the one that she wore in 1962 to sing happy birthday to President Kennedy, the only problem I could think of was not sticking to the theme. After further investigation, I realized the bigger issues involved.
Many fashion historians have always been frustrated with their line of work not being taken seriously, and this is one of those times. These professionals believe that this dress is an important piece from American history, and should therefore be carefully preserved in a museum just like any other historic garment.
As Bob Mackie, the designer for the original dress said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “I thought it was a big mistake, [Marily] was a goddess… And it was done for her. It was designed for her. Nobody else should be seen in that dress.”
This dress is actually owned by Ripley’s Believe it or Not, which is not a real museum, and by allowing Kim Kardashian to wear the dress, has broken rules from the museum code of conduct. I believe this was a strategic advertisement to let the public know where this dress is being shown.
Lots of things could and did go wrong. Just Kim Kardashian walking around in it, even for a few minutes, ruined the integrity of the material. Other ways that the dress could have been partially ruined was by it being touched with improper gloves or even bare handed. Mackey also stated in his interview with Entertainment Weekly, that wearing the gown “ was undoubtedly damaging to its preservation and structural integrity.”
I agree with fashion historians that recognize the unethical side of this situation. I don’t think that anyone else other than Marilyn Monroe should have worn this dress. I also don’t agree with an illegitimate museum like Ripley’s Believe it or not owning an extremely expensive and valued part of history like this dress. It should be in a proper museum handled by experts that know what they’re doing.