South African designers on this year’s Met Gala theme

Rihanna at the Met Gala in 2015. Picture: Instagram / metgalaofficial

Rihanna at the Met Gala in 2015. Picture: Instagram / metgalaofficial

Published May 5, 2024


Tomorrow is the first Monday of May which means it’s Met Gala night.

Often referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out”, the event is the Oscars of the fashion world.

Fashion enthusiasts from around the world eagerly await this grand event that takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

On the night, A-listers from singers to actors, fashion designers to social media influencers, guests arrive dressed in the most extravagant and jaw-dropping outfits that often set trends and get people talking.

Even though guests are encouraged to let their imagination run wild, there is always a theme and dress code that they have to adhere to.

This of course adds to the allure and anticipation of the evening.

The theme for this year’s Met Gala, officially known as Costume Institute Benefit, and the annual spring exhibit is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”, while the dress code for the evening will be “The Garden of Time” based on the short story by J.G. Ballard.

Even though the theme is about “sleeping beauties”, it has nothing to do with fairytales.

“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” refers to garments from the Costume Institute's collection that have been “in slumber” and will now be on display.

Exhibition curator Andrew Bolton picked 250 pieces spanning four centuries.

While the event is all about outrageous fashion, it’s important to note that it is a fund-raiser for Met’s Costume Institute.

Last year, it raised nearly R400 million.

While each ticket for this year’s event is $50,000 (about R940,000) a person, this doesn’t necessarily mean that celebrities are the ones to pay the price.

Designers usually purchase a table at the event and then fill it with the celebrities that they are styling, according to WWD.

The gala’s chairwoman, Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour hosts the event, with famous faces usually co-chairing the event.

This year’s co-chairs are Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, and Zendaya.

Wintour is the person who oversees the guest list and makes the final decisions about who attends the event.

So, unless you’re in her good books, you can say goodbye to ever attending the event, even if you can afford to.

IOL spoke to South African designers Mzukisi Mbane and Jacques LaGrange, as well as stylist Shiraz Reddy about their interpretation of this year’s theme and how they would style a celebrity.

“This year’s Met Gala is actually very exciting and not the easiest to execute if one is not being too sensitive to what is the sleeping beauties. Sensitive, because I believe the sleeping beauties can be appreciated without being woken up,” says Mbane, owner and creative director of Imprint.

“I wasn’t a big fan of Kim Kardashian wearing that Marilyn Monroe dress, and I’m really not looking forward to seeing someone wearing a piece of art that carries so much history.

“However, I’m excited to see how fashion houses reference iconic fashion moments (referenced to like the early 1900s) moments that most don’t even know about, and bring these references to life with new interpretations and pushed forward. To me, that’s reawakening fashion,” he adds.

Mbane says that if he could style any celebrity, it would be Rihanna.

“I love how she has always created iconic moments on those Met Gala stairs and how she is so not afraid of doing something different.”

He adds that he’s always been inspired by Vivienne Westwood and Issey Miyake.

So he would dress her in a beautiful Imprint original that celebrates an iconic antique moment from one of the two designers.

Or even a combination of the two designers with Imprint - two sleeping beauties - both literally and figuratively - with Imprint reawakening their iconic fashion moments.

“I love the theme of the 2024 Met Gala. You will likely see a magical display of never-been-seen masterpieces - a true haute couture fairytale of realistic handmade masterpieces of making ‘sleeping beauties - reawakening fashion’ comes alive on the red carpet worn by celebrities and the fashion who's who,” says couture designer LaGrange.

LaGrange says that he would dress his client in a see-through 4D flower botanical masterpiece of delicate futuristic, almost border fantasy, couture that would come alive with movement.

South African stylist to the stars Shiraz Reddy says that this year’s theme is quite revolutionary, yet risqué.

“As a stylist, I think it’ll be another year of hits, with lots of modern takes on ‘reimagined/reawakened’ iconic fashion moments. There will be misses too, because it will be taken too literally and come across as ‘I just woke up’,” says Reddy.

“I would take a modern twist on archived fashion moments with a dramatic and statement twist too. That lands the message of how we are living in the times of a reimagined world with AI and tech being on the forefront.”

IOL Lifestyle