Over the last few years, we have seen sustainable practices gradually infiltrate mainstream fashion events. Following the annual Met Gala on Monday, we were left contemplating whether a night so unapologetically centred around extravagance could in fact be carried out more sustainably.
Below we explore some of the guests who championed sustainable fashion at this year’s Met Gala and consider what this says about the trajectory of the red carpet more broadly.
Due to the very nature of the theme of the 2023 Met Gala – a veneration of the late Karl Lagerfeld, whose career spanned 65 years – vintage and archival outfits were not in short supply. Among some of the most admired outfits of the evening there was a distinct lack of newness, and this is worth celebrating.
Some of the events standout moments included Nicole Kidman’s outfit-repeat of the iconic feathered gown she wore in the 2004 Baz Luhrmann-directed Chanel No 5 advert. Gisele Bündchen’s rewear of a Chanel Couture sequin ensemble, which she previously wore in a Vogue Korea editorial in 2007, was another notable fashion statement. Furthermore, Met Gala Co-Chair, Dua Lipa, turned to Lagerfeld’s archives and wore an A/W 1992 Chanel bridal look for her arrival, originally modelled by Claudia Schiffer on the runway. Later in the evening, she changed into another archival 1995 Chanel Couture dress.
Guests such as Margaret Qualley, Naomi Campbell, Kristen Stewart, Penélope Cruz, Sofia Coppola, Lila Moss, Christine Chiu, Suki Waterhouse, Yara Shahidi and Huma Abedin were among others who also wore archival outfits – spanning from decades old to only a few years old.
Sustainability trailblazer, Gabriela Hearst, is the Creative Director and Designer at Chloé – a position previously held by Lagerfeld on-and-off between 1963 to 1997. As such, Hearst cited the archival work of Lagerfeld at Chloé in looks for herself, Vanessa Kirby, Maude Apatow and Olivia Wilde.
During this year’s Met Gala livestream breaks, a new collaboration was announced between eBay and Vogue, fronted by Ice Spice who has curated a vintage selection for eBay. It is encouraging to see influential artists such as Ice Spice promoting pre-loved fashion.
In many ways, the Met Gala serves as a bellwether for the broader industry, signalling that vintage and pre-loved goods are only going to increase in popularity. This is echoed in the latest ThredUp resale report which predicts that the global secondhand market is expected to nearly double by 2027, reaching $350 Billion. Secondhand goods are not only to be celebrated because they present an opportunity to wear something entirely unique, but the same report suggests that buying and wearing secondhand clothing instead of new reduces carbon emissions by an average of 25%.
Indeed, vintage fashion is already being spotlighted on 2023 red carpets. For example, Timothée Chalamet wore a vintage leather look from Helmut Lang’ S/S 1998 collection at the recent CinemaCon event. Similarly, Kendall Jenner sported a vintage Jean Paul Gaultier dress, from the brand’s S/S 2008 Haute Couture collection at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party 2023.
There’s also a marked increase in people outfit repeating on the red carpet, with Cate Blanchett proudly leading this effort. The Princess of Wales and Kate Winslet have also done so this year. Thanks to the wonderful efforts from the likes of RCGD Global, we can only expect to see more of this in the coming years.
According to The GFA Monitor 2022, the environmental impact of a garment is largely determined in its design phase. As such, it was promising to see some guests champion more sustainable design at this year’s Met Gala.
Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and Environmental Activist, Maya Penn, are the first people to wear custom looks from the new circular sub-brand from Coach, Coachtopia, which reuses materials that would otherwise go to waste. Outfit embellishments were made from the likes of discarded cans, bottles, ticket stubs and maps salvaged from bins around the Met Museum.
Alexa Chung wore a Róisín Pierce dress, a designer who focuses on thoughtful ways of cultivating new surface textures through deadstock, material recycling and zero waste cutting. Pierce was one of eight finalists of last year’s prestigious LVMH Prize – revered for her alignment of luxury with core sustainability principles.
Aubrey Plaza and Madelyn Cline attended the Met Gala alongside designer, Stella McCartney, who is heralded for her commitment to sustainable practices. During an interview on the official event livestream, Plaza amplified McCartney’s message and gave a shoutout to the fact that her dress was sustainable. This comes after Cara Delevingne recently modelled the first-ever garment made from plastic-free, plant-based sequins by Stella McCartney for her Vogue cover shoot in April.
Innovation in the fashion scene paves the way for a future where style and sustainability can coexist harmoniously.
Beyond the clothing, this year’s centrepiece installation within the Museum was crafted from thousands of recycled water bottles. Event Planner, Raul Àvila, said: “Given today’s climate, we wanted to highlight the importance of giving our everyday items more than one life cycle,”
However, given the opulence of the Met Gala, climate activists staged a protest. Moreover, on the basis of some of Karl Lagerfeld’s controversial remarks, this year’s theme attracted much criticism. The Model Alliance held protests the day before the event and pushed for the Fashion Workers Act in New York to be passed, a bill proposing basic protections for models. This aspect of Lagerfeld’s legacy cannot be overlooked.
The message was clear: Timeless design that can endure the ever-elusive trend cycles is worth celebrating. Fashion is a crucial medium for creative expression and should indeed be celebrated, but as we look to the future, we hope the Met Gala will amplify the voices advocating for positive change and further champion the cause of sustainability.
We cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach and the Met Gala offers another platform for engaging people in conversations about the necessary direction for the industry, as it draws a vast global audience.
Global Fashion Agenda’s upcoming Global Fashion Summit is the leading forum for sustainability in fashion. This June, the Summit will gather the industry’s foremost leaders, visionaries, researchers, politicians, environmentalists, global opinion makers, journalists and more to explore a range of interconnected topics, all under the Summit’s theme of ‘Ambition to Action’.