Met Gala 'Gilded Glamour' Theme Criticized Amid US Economic Troubles

Met Gala 'Gilded Glamour' Theme Criticized Amid US Economic Troubles

The 2022 Met Gala is being criticized for its "tone deaf" theme.

On Monday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art played host to a bevy of famous faces and haute couture designers in celebration of its "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" exhibition, which is meant to spotlight American fashion from the eighteenth century to now as a continuation of last year's "A Lexicon of American Fashion" exhibit. However, the event has since dredged up some substantial criticism due to its focus on "Gilded Glamour," or an embodiment of the "grandeur — and perhaps the dichotomy — of Gilded Age New York," per Vogue.

Hosted by Anna Wintour, the "Gilded Glamour" theme asked attendees to come in looks referencing American fashion between 1870 to 1890, a time of rapid economic expansion and industrialization following the socioeconomic chaos of the Civil War. Spearheaded by the likes of John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie, the "Gilded Age" saw these titans of industry accumulate huge fortunes and display their excessive wealth through lavish objects and high society events.

Granted, it was also a period of extreme economic inequity, which led Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner to coin the term with their 1873 book, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which the American Museum of Natural History explains was "an ironic comment on the difference between a true golden age and their present time, a period of booming prosperity in the United States that created a class of the super-rich."

Given this historical context, many found the Met Gala theme to be extremely "out of touch," especially considering the current state of the US economy. After all, inflation is at a 40-year high, gas prices have soared to astronomical levels and US GDP has shrunk for the first time since 2020, contracting to a worrying 1.4% this first quarter. And combined growing concern surrounding an upcoming recession, a number of online commenters scoffed at an assembly of extremely wealthy celebrities in honor of an exhibition that claims to focus on the "inclusivity" of American fashion, with one commenter pointing out the "irony" of a "Gilded Age" theme "during these troubling economic times."

"i'm still not over how ill-advised & tone deaf it is for the met gala to have chosen the gilded age of all things for their theme. yes, there will be awesome fashion. no, that doesn't balance out the queasy," as another wrote, while a third person noted that "inequality is at the highest levels since the Gilded Age, a pandemic & economic meltdown wrecked us, inflation is out of control."

"But cool, let’s wear #GildedAge themed dresses & laugh about inequality," they continued. "This years theme is a slap in the face to average Americans."

Meanwhile, political commentator Hasan Piker called this year's theme "straight flexing" during a "time when wealth inequality has passed gilded age levels."

"obviously every single met gala is about rich people wearing wild fits, but the gilded age is simply an era defined by robber baron's melting the poor for profit," he said, before adding, "it's the most marie antoinette theme yet imo. then again, i hadn't really paid any attention to prior themes."

Neither the Met nor Wintour have commented on the criticism.

Photo via Getty / Theo Wargo / WireImage


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