The Met Gala is a barometer of fashion. Not in the boring “What is the hemline of the moment?” sense, but on a grander scale. This benefit dinner is pure spectacle, an event that exists only to be photographed, a sequined media mirage. Look at the pictures from the after-parties and you’ll see that many guests change out of their red-carpet looks as soon as humanly possible. These are clothes for posing in, not wearing. They are statements.
Until recently, that statement was simple: I am thinner and hotter than you. Then came the rise of the “stunt garment”—Rihanna’s omelette dress, Billy Porter’s sun-god palanquin—as celebrities realized that merely looking hot in a nice outfit had very little currency at an event where everyone looks hot and is wearing a nice outfit. This is an arms race with literal arms: The musician Grimes turned up yesterday carrying a sword made from a melted-down AR-15. (Perhaps she thought the dessert would be a really big cake.)