Here, B&T chats to Ashley Chang, APAC lead For YouTube Culture & Trends, about the Met Gala and how the event has taken on a whole new life online.
Firstly, for those still scratching their heads about what the Met Gala actually is, put simply, it’s a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
“The Met Gala could be viewed as a physical event for a handful of impossibly beautiful celebrities defined primarily by exclusivity, privilege and sartorial experimentation,” Chang said.
“But increasingly, it feels like it belongs to the internet and meme culture.”
Chang, a cultural expert himself, is also firm on the Gala’s cultural relevance.
“It’s the Super Bowl for fashion. Every year a new outfit breaks the internet,” he said.
While some people may not be familiar with the Met Gala, they will be familiar with the outfits.
Pregnant Kim Kardashian, in her floral Givenchy look, in 2013. Rhianna’s ‘pizza’ dress by Olivia Mears, launched a thousand memes in 2017. Taylor Swift, in 2016, debuting bleached blonde hair and allegedly stealing Tom Hiddleston’s heart.
Where did they see these outfits? Online.
Lil Nas X made the round on the internet this year after pulling off three separate custom Versace outfits. Only Kim Kardashian, dressed by Balenciaga, managed to go more viral for looking more like a ninja than a fashion icon.
As Chang said, the outfits take over our feeds.
Considering the Met Gala isn’t screened on any major streaming service or television network, it seems pretty clear that the internet has made the event relevant and given it a whole new life virtually.
“People aren’t so much interested in the event itself but the stuff orbiting it – and that has certainly been the case on YouTube,” Chang told B&T.
This year, YouTuber Emma Chamberlain charmingly documented herself getting ready to attend the Met Gala, and her YouTube video has already amassed almost 5.7 million views on her personal channel and six million on Vogue’s.
The Met Gala does not just belong to the celebrities that attend it, but rather to the internet that has fun with it.
“The Met Gala feels like something that is owned by the culture,” Chang said.
This is why brands like Vogue, the fashion bible that organises the event, create so much content around it. Viewers can watch their favourite celebrities get ready for the event, from supermodel Kendall Jenner to Gen Z powerhouse Olivia Rodrigo.
The pop star talks about Saint Laurent in the same way young girls talk about their clothes from General Pants Co.
“Their clothes are so punk rock,” Rodrigo says and shares her craving for a milkshake. The content created around the gala is all about making the inaccessible accessible.
“It’s also interesting how a highly aspirational publication like Vogue is actively using its YouTube channel to court a completely different audience to its print publication,” Chang said.
YouTube has become a hub of upcoming and emerging talent, and major publications are just beginning to embrace them and realise their influence.
YouTube allows audiences to engage with events and turn them into their own. Creator Chris Klemens does an annual, brutally honest review of the Met Gala that features everything from pop culture references to mental health jokes – the Met Gala is being discussed beyond an Anna Wintour lens.
Case in point, Vogue has also begun to utilise traditional YouTubers as the Met Gala has begun to embrace them. NikkieTutorials, who snagged an invite to the event and has over 13.5 million subscribers on her YouTube account, shared her makeup look for the Met Gala on Vogue’s channel.
Chang said: “The Met Gala is an example of how a physical event can live on in digital spaces far after it has ended, provided you have really great content.”
Of course, Vogue isn’t the only major brand capitalising on the allure of an online event becoming a virtual hit.
Harper’s Bazaar has created completion videos of the best outfits at the Met Gala – its ‘10 best dressed from the Met Gala 2021‘ has had almost two million views. Meanwhile, YouTuber HauteLeMode’s ‘Met Gala 2021 Fashion Roast’ has over two million views.
“The Met Gala is an example of how with platforms like YouTube, events are now just as virtual as they are physical,” Chang explained, adding that “the transition feels seamless”.
To learn more about YouTube’s rich content that delights and engages Australian and New Zealand audiences, register for Brandcast on Thursday 21 October.
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