Is The Red Carpet Era Over? Celebs At The Met Gala Seem To Think So

Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Nicole Kidman are all doing things differently.

On the first Monday in May, months of work came together for the spectacular glory that is the Met Gala red carpet. Even your non-fashion, non-pop culture-loving friends are aware of the entertainment behemouth that is the Met Gala red carpet. The hottest celebs, dressed by the most luxurious fashion houses, interpreting this year’s theme (with middling results)? This is the event that gave us Pedro Pascal in red shorts, for crying out loud! There’s a reason we call it ‘fashion Christmas’.

Pedro Pascal in shorts is reason enough to hold the Met Gala. (Credit: Getty.)

For the celebrities lucky enough to be invited — with the approval of Vogue’s Anna Wintour, of course — the red carpet is merely a lead up to the event inside, where dinner is served and a special guest star performs. (This year was Lizzo.) But for the rest of us, the Met Gala red carpet IS the event. By design, we don’t know what happens inside the gala itself. It’s a mystery. (Celebs say it can be a bit dull; maybe that’s why it’s kept secret.)

Watching the glamorous Met Gala content roll out on Instagram this year, however, one thing became clear: the red carpet is not what it used to be. And that’s not just because a theme celebrating Karl Lagerfeld inevitably becomes awash in black, white, and Camellias; it’s because every celeb is staging their own photoshoot prior to the carpet itself.

Priyanka Chopra was the ultimate glam girl. (Credit: Instagram / Met Gala)

Cardi B was running through her hotel’s hallway. Suki Waterhouse was standing in the window. Kylie Jenner was eating a slice of pizza. And Priyanka Chopra was staging a photoshoot worthy of running in any magazine.

The message is clear: red carpet photos are boring. Candid, ‘old money’-style shots from inside The Carlyle (where most celebs stay for the Met Gala)? Now that’s a 2023 vibe.

Cardi B serving in her pre-Met Gala shots. (Credit: Instagram / Cardi B.)

Some celebrities, like Nicole Kidman, wanted to give us a peak behind the scenes, with the Australian star sharing candid shots of her zipping into her vintage Chanel dress and a team of artists working on her hair and makeup. Other celebs, like Emily Ratajkowski, used the glam moment to snap a quick-ish photoshoot that seemed to use moodboard made entirely of “old money” TikToks. (Think: billowing green curtains, ornate console tables, and the type of decorative vases that look so expensive, they threaten you with toppling over just by breathing near them.)

Nicole Kidman slips into her vintage Chanel gown. (Credit: Instagram / Nicole Kidman.)
Emily Ratajkowski’s ‘old money’ aesthetic popped off. (Credit: Instagram / @EmRata)

At the time of writing, Florence Pugh has yet to post photos of her stunning Valentino gown on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but she has shared a behind the scenes gallery of her getting ready for the moment, glorious shaved head and all. When the newly pregnant Karlie Kloss celebrated that it was “baby’s first Met”, what bump photo do you think she shared? Hint: it wasn’t the one every media outlet in the world could download.

Karlie Kloss said it was “baby’s first Met”. (Credit: Instagram / Karlie Kloss.)

Whether the photos were candid (Gisele Bündchen, at her first ever solo Met), staged (Kim Kardashian), or somewhere in between (BLACKPINK’s Jennie for her “first ever Met”), almost every celeb held their own photoshoot prior to the big event. These images were rolled out after the red carpet had already happened, of course; the unofficial (or perhaps official) rule is that the outfits are kept secret until celebs walk out in public.

It begs the question: why are red carpet photos disappearing? And I have a few theories.

Gisele shared these candid shots of her Met Gala glam team. (Credit: Instagram / Gisele.)
BLACKPINK’s Jennie made her Met Gala debut this year. (Credit: Instagram / Black Pink)

The first is that social content is the hungriest beast you’ve ever met. Instagram and TikTok have turned us all into non-stop content creators. Want to actually reach the audience that follows you? You’ll have to post every day, multiple times a day. It is, frankly, exhausting, and Big Tech will be responsible for my therapy bill come burnout. If there was an easy opportunity to get more content, then most of us would take it in a heartbeat.

The second is that, for the talented stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and more, capturing the close up content is key to their businesses. Met Gala darling Gigi Hadid was later to posting her hotel photos than most, but you know who wasn’t? Her makeup artist, Patrick Ta.

Gigi Hadid’s icy goth glam beauty look for the 2023 Met Gala. (Credit: Instagram / Patrick Ta)

But the third (and most important) reason is that staging your own shoot prior to the carpet allows celebrities to control their image — not to mention the brands investing tens of thousands of dollars into them. And I’m on just talking about choosing the most flattering shots and angles, although of course that’s involved, too. And personally, as a marie claire Australia editor someone who spent many minutes this week picking just the right Met Gala photo from literally hundreds of nearly identical ones on Getty, I can tell you that not all red carpet photos are created equal.

Really, owning your image is about crafting the message you want to send to the public. Are you a chill girl? A cool girl? A madly in love girl? Pictures say a thousand words… and that’s before Instagram threatened us with non-stop Reels.

When every celebrity is also hustling as a digital content creator, capturing your own content has never been more important. And as a publisher, I’m grateful they give us something a little more fun to play with.

It’s just funny that in doing so, the Met Gala’s true main event — the one staged for public consumption by millions of eyeballs — is being entirely sidelined.

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