Met Gala surrenders to Latin power: Bad Bunny and Jennifer Lopez reign on the great catwalk of global fashion

The event raised funds for the annual exhibition of the New York museum’s Costume Institute, which has used the latest technologies to create a multisensory experience around 250 garments that span more than two centuries

Jennifer Lopez arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York.
Jennifer Lopez arrives for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2024, in New York.ANGELA WEISS (AFP via Getty Images)
María Antonia Sánchez-Vallejo

Every year, on the first Monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York rolls out the red carpet to celebrate its great fashion gala, a planetary event that, in addition to serving as a fundraiser to finance its Costume Institute, drives one of the museum’s most visited annual exhibitions. Celebrities and a legion of influencers dazzle the cameras in a concentration of famous faces from the fashion and entertainment industry that no other event—barring, perhaps, the Academy Awards in Hollywood—is able to replicate. The dress code always revolves around a theme, as does the content of the parallel exhibition, and this year’s was The Garden of Time, the title of a short story written in 1962 by J. G. Ballard in which the flowers that are cut from the garden of a pair of aristocrats announce the decline of their way of life as a mob of disinherited people marches towards them. It is a curious choice for a gala that is synonymous with glamor and exclusivity; a surprising and ironic cultural dystopia in the middle of that repository of elegance that the Fifth Avenue museum becomes every first Monday in May.

The rapper Bad Bunny and the actors Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez and Zendaya — who is back after a year of absence — together with the soul of the Costume Institute and the gala, Anna Wintour, co-chaired the charity event, which provides the department with its main source of funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, conservation and improvements: last year’s gala raised $22 million, and this year’s will not be far behind, since the price of admission has risen from $50,000 to $75,000 (for an entire table, prices start at $350,000, according to the Met’s official price list).

Besides the celebrity co-chairs, the gala had as honorary presidents Shou Chew, executive director of TikTok — the main sponsor of the exhibition — and Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, which is also a sponsor. Standing before an army of 200 photographers, celebrities posed on the museum’s carpeted steps, a global catwalk for a select guest list that is always kept secret until the last minute.

Jennifer Lopez, who has attended more than a dozen galas since her debut in 1999, wore a sculptural semi-transparent Schiaparelli dress encrusted with precious stones, embroidered with silver pearls and more than two million beads of the same tone. Zendaya, who for many onlookers was the queen of the night, wore a creation by John Galliano, the designer who has been out of favor for more than a decade. Chris Hemsworth was dressed in off-white (matching the gold tones worn by his wife, Elsa Pataky; both were dressed by Tom Ford). Bad Bunny was dressed in black and sported an architectural headdress and a bouquet of flowers of the same color. The rest of the guest list evidenced an abundant Latino representation: Karol G, Rauw Alejandro, Shakira. Representing Spain were the actress Penélope Cruz, a regular guest at the gala who this year was wearing a strapless black Chanel full of lace, and the singer Rosalía, who opted for the same color.

Other famous faces included Kim Kardashian, who was wearing a bodice that seemed incompatible with breathing, and the South African singer Tyla, dressed as an hourglass and with a bag that left a trail as she passed by.

The event was surrounded by extensive security measures, with an additional deployment of police to stop the advance of a group of pro-Palestinian protesters down Fifth Avenue.

Bad Bunny poses upon arrival at the Met Gala, this Monday in New York.
Bad Bunny poses upon arrival at the Met Gala, this Monday in New York.Andrew Kelly (REUTERS)

Running parallel to the gala, the spring exhibition is titled Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, a kind of still life through 250 costumes and accessories that cover more than two centuries of history — the oldest is a garment from 1740 — and revived through new technologies, from AI to video installations and olfactory panels. Simultaneously a metaphor for the transience of life and fashion, the exhibition this year fully assumes the risk of innovation. Sleeping Beauties opens on May 10 and will remain on display until September 2.

With the gala and the associated exhibition, the museum is reaching out to an audience of millions that may not be very interested in the kind of art with capital letters available in the rich collections of its galleries: young people, influencers, creators of advertising content, consumers and social media stars. “Sleeping Beauties will heighten our engagement with these masterpieces of fashion by evoking how they feel, move, sound, smell and interact when being worn, ultimately offering a deeper appreciation of the integrity, beauty and artistic brilliance of the works on display,” said Met Museum director Max Hollein.

Sleeping Beauties is a pioneering exhibition, considering its intention to breathe life into inanimate objects. “These objects have a certain life cycle. The museum’s job is basically to extend this life cycle as long as possible. And in doing so, we take away some of the experiences of the original object. So, in addition to prolonging the cycle of life, it injects a new cycle of experience into these objects and by extension also into the museum,” said Hollein.

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