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The Might of the Met Ball

The first Monday of May is always one to behold in the fashion industry, all thanks to the Met Gala. For the unaware, the Met Gala (short for the Costume Institute Gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York) is the annual fundraising ball for the Met’s Costume Institute.

This year’s theme was Camp: Notes on Fashion. What is Camp? Camp is boisterousness, outrageousness, challenge and exaggeration, all wrapped up into one. The Met’s usually opulent themes have often made for great marketing and Instagram opportunities for brands looking to gain likes and coverage. While fashion designers often gain a lot of the limelight by teaming up with celebrities, models and other A-listers, cosmetics brands such as Maybelline have stepped up their marketing game with ‘Get the Look’ videos, ads on and commercials on E!

Participating in the Met Gala, however, is incredibly expensive. Brands typically spend hundreds of thousands sponsoring celebrities and A-list stars, since a ticket to the Ball was reportedly priced at $30,000 to $50,000 per person, and tables $275,000 to $500,000 and up. In fact, Yahoo sponsored the 2015 Met Gala, and had to pay an estimated $3 million for two tables. This does not include the cost of producing the couture gowns worn by attendees that are so attention-grabbing and signature to the Ball. This begs the question: is it all worth it?

The statistics show that all this effort is for good reason. The Met Gala has outpaced the Vanity Fair Oscar Party as the industry’s most coveted and exclusive event. As the “Superbowl of Fashion”, the Met Gala was mentioned almost 3 million times on Twitter and Instagram just as guests had finished arriving at the Museum, according to Brandwatch. Gucci, a sponsor for this year’s Ball, was mentioned the most of any brand, at 45,000 times. Unsurprisingly, the event also drove’s traffic for 48 hours, even causing the website’s live portion to crash at one point. All of these figures point to one clear fact: that mainstream hype around the Met Gala is growing. E!’s extension of the event’s broadcast time from 2.5 hours to 4 hours is proof of that.

The Met Gala has undeniably become a PR platform for many brands keen on engaging pop culture-savvy consumers, but is also a way for designers and brands to forge lasting relationships with celebrities. For example, because designer Christian Siriano decided to take a chance on rapper Cardi B before she became famous, she stuck with him for many red carpet events after her meteoric rise, earning his label much attention.

However, despite the Met Gala’s obvious importance in the fashion world, it remains to be seen if, how and when it will decline in popularity. With the rise of social media and celebrities posting just about everything they might wear, casual or formal, the significance of red carpet events may begin to decrease in future. The Ball’s point of differentiation and saving grace is likely to be its opulent theatrics, awe and entertainment that never fails to capture audiences year after year.

Written by Charmaine Leong

Charmaine is a fashion-tech and luxury enthusiast currently reading the Masters in Management 2019 and participating in the Walpole Programme. In addition to gaining a BSc (Hons) in International Fashion Management at the London College of Fashion prior to LBS, she also has experience in digital consulting, merchandising and fashion-tech incubator projects with Microsoft.

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