Held annually on the first Monday in May, the Met Gala the most fashionable party of the year. The star-filled soiree is hosted by Vogue—under the very watchful eye of editor in chief Anna Wintour—and it draws an A-list crowd (dressed fabulously, of course) to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The red carpet! The glamour! The fashion! What could possibly go wrong? Well, you be the judge of that. We're taking a look back at the biggest Met Gala scandals and controversies, just before this year's Rei Kawakubo-themed gala on Monday.
It was the elevator ride heard around the world. In 2014, an elevator security camera at a Met Gala afterparty captured footage of Solange seemingly attacking Jay-Z as Beyoncé looked on. A tipster passed the video to TMZ, and the rest is history.
Cue much speculation over what the fight could be about. The family released a vague statement at the time, but Beyoncé put it a little differently in her remix to “Flawless” that year, rapping: "Of course sometimes s--t go down when there's a billion dollars on an elevator."
Now flash forward to last year, when the Met Gala followed right on the heels of Beyoncé’s Lemonade album drop, as everyone speculated about the identity of “Becky with the good hair." Beyoncé walked the Met Gala red carpet noticeably sans Jay-Z, and celebs like Katy Perry and Rita Ora actually showed up to an afterparty wearing pins that read “Not Becky.” Rita emphasized that point by posting a selfie with Bey to shut down any rumors.
Then there are the celebrities who have gone out of their way to hate on the Met Gala. Gwyneth Paltrow offered a very straightforward assessment of her gala experience in 2013: it was “un-fun” and “it sucked,” she told multiple news outlets. The phrase “I’m never going again” also came up.
Tina Fey had no mercy in 2015 when describing the Met Gala to David Letterman. “Such a jerk parade,” she said. “Every jerk from every walk of life is there, wearing some stupid thing… It’s just everybody, if you had a million arms, it’s all the people you would punch in the whole world.” Her incredible rant also included a story about walking into the “fart cloud” of a “famously mean fashion designer.” No names, of course. “Clearly, I’ll never go again,” she said. Clearly!
Demi Lovato didn’t enjoy the party either, writing on Instagram that 2016 was her “first and probably last” Met Gala. But could that have more to do with a feud with Nicki Minaj?
Amy Schumer trashed the gala too, telling Howard Stern: "I guess I should be grateful I was invited or something, but yeah, it felt like a punishment. It's not me and I don't like it…It's so fake… It's people doing an impression of having a conversation." Like Demi, she said that was her first and last Met. On the plus side, she did get to meet Beyoncé there.
Speaking of Amy, her interview with Lena Dunham in Lena’s newsletter in September recapping the Met Gala also made headlines. Lena wrote: “You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was like a crazy countown to when we could escape. You were like, ‘We’re honored to be here. We’re honored to be here.”
Lena’s comments in the same interview about her Met Gala seatmate Odell Beckham Jr. ignoring her caused a major Twitter controversy. Lena ended up apologizing to Odell on Instagram, writing: “Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don't rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it's hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he'd rather be seated with.”
Last year’s Met Gala documentary The First Monday in May promised a behind-the-scenes look into how the party gets put together, and the filmmakers managed to capture a tiny bit of drama. At one point, Anna Wintour is filmed referring to one guest: “OK, can he not be on his cell phone the entire time then?”
Page Six speculated that the guest who invoked Anna’s Ire was Allison Williams’s husband Ricky Van Veen, the co-founder of the website College Humor. A Vogue spokesperson refused to comment on who Anna was talking about, but said: “Ricky was a perfect guest, and we look forward to welcoming him back this year.” The doc also revealed that if you want to hire Rihanna to play your party, it will cost you (no shocker there)
Anna Wintour just seems to not be a fan of smartphones in general (she used a flip phone in 2014, after all). In 2015, Met Gala planners reportedly tried to enforce a social media ban for all guests, according to Fashionista. Trying to stop people from selfieing is generally an impossible task, and the next year’s theme was “Fashion in the Age of Technology,” so that rule seemed to fall by the wayside in 2016.
Way back in 2009, designer Azzedine Alaïa staged a boycott of the gala after none of his designs were included in that year’s “The Model as Muse” exhibit — and he convinced supermodels Naomi Campbell, Stephanie Seymour, and Linda Evangelista to skip the event too.
Not only that, but he dared to speak out against Anna Wintour in no uncertain terms. Alaïa told the New York Times, “She has too much power over this museum,” and went even further with a quote to WWD, saying “she behaves like a dictator and everyone is terrified of her…but I’m not scared of her or anyone.”
This past year, model Jessica Hart wore an Alaïa gown to the Met Gala, so maybe it’s water under the bridge now?
Madonna defended her butt-baring Givenchy Met Gala ensemble last year, writing that it was a “political statement.” She wrote in an Instagram caption: “The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society.”
Finally, please Marc Jacobs, dust off this “controversial” Commes des Garcons black lace dress you wore to the 2012 gala. “I just didn’t want to wear a tuxedo and be boring,” he said at the time. It’s on theme and already in your closet, and it would once again not be boring.
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