Extremely slow fashion

According to Entertainment Weekly,

Every year on the first Monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a star-studded fundraising gala, the red carpet of which is any year’s most high-profile intersection of entertainment and fashion. The event also serves as the grand opening of the Met’s Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit, which revolves around a different theme or designer every year, and Met Gala attendees are encouraged to dress in such a way to pay homage to the topic.

This year’s Met Gala, like those of years before (though I don’t claim to have followed them in any measure), had really elaborate costumes on display. At other times, this event and its fashion agenda have been equal parts dazzling and vapid (to me), but this year, they were just deranged. On one end of the fashion-velocity spectrum, as it were, you have the relatively new phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’, in which manufacturers rapidly prototype and make clothes to capitalise on new and fleeting trends. This enterprise is characterised by speed above all else, especially in terms of identifying and adapting to constantly shifting consumer demands. But for all this terrific agility, it has been too much to ask for this enterprise to adapt to stay within the limits of constraints imposed by climate change. And it seems that’s all we’re going to be able to expect of extremely slow fashion as well, or at least the newly phenomenonised phenomenon of extremely slow fashion.

While fast fashion gives consumers the ability to ride multiple short fads, extremely slow fashion is about transcending them so hard as to not set trends so much as make a forceful one-time statement – like each Met Gala costume, including those on display in 2021. Fast fashion quickly uses and discards dyes, reagents, fibre, etc., and extremely slow fashion is just as mindless, using and discarding not by the beat of populist aspirations, a.k.a. the desires of the haves, but by the psychotic imagination of the more-than-haves. Look no further than the theme of this year’s gala, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” – a dictionary devoid of terms like ‘Anthropocene’ or ‘consciousness’, I’m sure – or gala “fixture” André Leon Talley’s opinion that its attendees are “the world’s best achievers in all the spheres of music, film, Broadway and fashion, as well as simple supernova personalities”. Isn’t it a bunch of super-rich people going to a party?

And of course, none of these ‘supernova’ remnants is likely to don their carbonaceous shells ever again, and will probably pass them around, in exchange for large sums of money, as ‘art’. I don’t claim to know or even understand what the Met Gala is about and why it’s such a big deal, but… reduce? 😒 Reuse? 😱 Recycle? 🤣. Its norms are indistinguishable from the commingled expressions of capitalism and consumerism (paralleling what crypto has become), and don’t merit consideration in the same way other, more inviolable and potentially more sustainable parts of our culture – like, say, movie-making, weddings and maybe cosplaying – deserve. The Met Gala now just seems… ugh.

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