Met Gala 2023: A Controversial Theme, with Few South Asians

Fashion’s most famous night featured a divisive, black-and-white theme. Its guest list of South Asians was even more limited.

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(L to R): Isha Ambani, Mindy Kaling, Alia Bhatt, Prabal Gurung, Priyanka Chopra, and Natasha Poonawalla at the Met Gala 2023 (The Juggernaut via Getty images)

The Juggernaut


May 2, 2023

The first Monday of May in New York City means one thing and one thing alone: the Met Gala is about to unleash a bevy of celebrities who must all walk up the famed steps at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in their designer-approved looks.

This year, the co-hosts were singer Dua Lipa, tennis superstar Roger Federer, and actor-filmmaker Michaela Coel. Of course, presiding over the entire fundraising effort — yes, this is not just a fashion event — was Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who allegedly approves every single invite. She is strict on timing, permitting only Rihanna to be late (and yes, Rihanna took full advantage of this, arriving nearly two hours after most people had left the multicolored carpet). 

But more than anything, this year’s theme — Karl Lagerfeld — was divisive. Over the past few years, the Met Gala explored the Gilded Age in New York (2022), “who gets to be American?” (2021), camp (2019), heavenly bodies and the Catholic Church’s influence on fashion (2018), the inimitable work of Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo (2017), fashion in the age of technology (2016), and China’s influence on fashion (2015). 

Clearly, the Met Gala has become more insular — not less — over time, narrowing its focus from the world (China, Japan, Catholicism) to America and then, specifically, to one Western, white designer. This is especially surprising considering how much more interconnected the world has become. India just became the world’s most populous country. Yet, South Asians on the guest list and among designers were few and far between. Is the Met Gala even relevant anymore?

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