The Met Gala usually has an ability to instantaneously create trends, especially in beauty. It’s a night meant to be about escapism, giving us a moment to connect and discuss what people wore and how their hair and makeup were done so we could do our hair and makeup like that too. We want to re-create Lizzo’s finger waves or apply crystals to our brow bone like Jodie Smith because it’s a more attainable look than Cardi B’s Versace gown made out of a kilometer of gold chains.
The Met Gala’s Gilded Age theme presented a perfect opportunity to bring glamour, fashion, beauty and celebrity together. The Gilded Age, or the period from the late 1800s through the early 1900s, was an era of decadence and opulence — and I was looking forward to the myriad ways attendees would (and would not) interpret this through hair and makeup.
I was simultaneously checking Instagram posts and stories from Vogue, The New York Times and The Cut and fielding texts and DM’s (“It’s been very exaggerated hair with neutral-ish makeup,” “Goatees are trending,” “I wish Julia Fox was there” and “Kris’ face and hair look good, her outfit is whatever”).
But in the midst of refreshing and replying — and as a beauty writer, opining on some of the very loose interpretations of Gilded Age beauty — we were blindsided by a leaked opinion from the Supreme Court casting doubt on the future of women’s reproductive rights.
Suddenly, nobody wanted to talk about whether everyone would be copying Kim Kardashian’s platinum blonde hair anymore.
Ordinarily, Kim’s bleached hair would have been up for discussion. Is everyone going to dye their hair platinum blonde now? Is this the new “It” hair colour? These are questions that would have been top of mind because the point of these galas is to talk about celebrities to feel better (or worse) about yourself because someone looked amazing (or terrible).
Instead, the internet and Instagram feeds were flooded with news about Roe v. Wade. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, we can all probably agree that the near future will be filled with conversation about this. It makes these moments of escapism and connection seem even more trite than they already are.
I explored the concept of escapism through beauty in another piece this week, specifically how we’ve used fragrance as a reprieve from real life. Everyone needs an escape, but the Met Gala seems more indulgent. Fragrance is about comforting oneself; the other is watching people walk the red carpet as if nothing else is going on in the world.
We all just wanted to get up this morning and gossip and scroll through Instagram to see Met Gala memes and the best and worst fashion and beauty looks from the night. It was supposed to be a reminder of our old lives — but I walked away saying “Who cares?” because there is something happening that feels like an existential crisis that demands our attention.
It’s none of the celebrities’ fault, and it’s not Vogue’s fault; their job is to create these moments of escape because the world has always been grisly outside of the fantasy of lavish beauty.