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The Met Gala in the Age of the Influencer

Bella Hadid and Addison Rae. What do they have in common? At first glance, other than being close friends with a Kardashian-Jenner, not much—Addison is a Louisiana native-born to a trailer home salesman and used her recent TikTok fame to land opportunities as a business owner, singer, and actress, and Bella is the daughter of an ex-supermodel and has had her own successful modeling career since her 2015 runway debut with Tom Ford. Despite these vastly different backgrounds, both are household names, at least among the younger generation. And, both might be at the 2021 Met Gala.

On August 22, Instagram account @_metgala2021 posted fake seating charts for the Gala, including influencers like Addison Rae, Emma Chamberlain, James Charles, and more. Many were outraged by these alleged influencer invites and took the charts to heart. In reality, the Met Gala seating chart is highly secretive and intricately planned. Sylvana Ward Durrett has been involved in planning the Met Gala since 2009. She states that hours go into planning each table, with the team carefully considering old charts to avoid repeat seating arrangements and imagining potential conversations and connections that could be made. After such intense deliberation, it is doubtful that the seating chart would be posted to an Instagram account only created in 2019, especially with its poorly designed graphics and misspelled celebrity names.

But, although the viral seating charts are mere speculation, it is likely that the real Met Gala guest list will include some influencer names. After all, this would be nothing new. In 2019, YouTubers James Charles, Lilly Singh, and Liza Koshy all graced the Met’s red carpet for “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” albeit to significant controversy. Emma Chamberlain has also been a regular invite to Louis Vuitton shows since 2019, and Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed user, secured a front-row seat to Prada’s show at Milan Fashion Week in 2020.

Clearly, the worlds of fashion and social media are slowly but surely merging into one. The potential of social media has only grown over time, with many internet stars expanding into the fashion, beauty, music, and film industries, among others. However, almost every time an influencer collaborates with a brand or ventures into acting, they are met with backlash, with many asking why they are more deserving of such opportunities than those who have worked towards them for years. Yet, numerous brands and companies continue to work with influencers due to the lucrative support that their enormous fan bases provide. As the digital age continues to prevail, expect to see a shift in power in fashion from traditional A-List celebrities to viral social media stars. The Met Gala was established in 1948. Much has changed in the past 70 years; it only makes sense for the guest list to change too.

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