Hope Bonarcher reflects on what the outfits at the Met Gala reveal about our culture

It’s midsummer! Yet, as I am writing this, the 2024 Met Gala is all over my screens. Tickets cost a whopping $75,000 if you’re not part of the royal guard of fashion who receives an invite, and styling mishaps could see one condemned as a red carpet laughing stock throughout the rest of the year. The world’s most notorious fashion event is a perfect projection of where we are as a culture. God fashioned clothing for us way back in the garden, as a covering for our shame. How we are wearing it is a barometer of who we’ve fashioned ourselves to be millennia later. Not you and me, personally, but as a culture, the star-studded event depicts who we idolise and how they present themselves, for better and for worse. It’s a very surrealistic reality.

Nakedness has become de rigueur

By the time this article reaches print, I’ll still be able to conjure images of Shakira in her rose-like, crimson, crepe gown with cascading train, Gigi Hadid in pleasantly sophisticated, ivory Thom Browne, alliterated with life-like yellow flowers, and Zendaya’s dramatic black Givenchy, fanned out almost as wide as the event’s green carpet, a gravity-defying bouquet headpiece, perched as if her own face were another of its perfectly coiffed fleurs. There will also be images I’d rather forget: Lizzo as a curvaceous, bronze, bedazzled vase and Doja Cat at The Met after-party in head-to-toe nude panty hose, are only a few of them.

Ah, nakedness. The theme of this year’s event was ‘The Garden of Time’, based on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new exhibition, ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’. Scrolling through social media, I was perplexed by some of the visuals. Serena Williams and Michelle Yeoh gilded in gold and, yes literally, there were aluminium foil dresses by Balenciaga. Who knew foil was timeless? Both Kylie Minogue and a beautiful young woman I’d never heard of, Tyla, wore earthy-inspired gowns. The latter’s was made, literally, of a cast of sand, moulded to her body, resulting in the need for her to be carried up the steps of the red carpet. Later, the gown was cut off from the knees down so she could actually manoeuvre in it. 

Then there were the dresses I’ll soon be going back through my phone history to erase, for the sake of my unsuspecting children. Where pornography was previously the culprits, now, we have to shield our kids’ eyes from the coverage (or lack thereof) of art museum openings. As long as it’s barely concealed by nude material or Swarovski crystals, full-blown nudity is of the moment. Even Jennifer Lopez, one of the most successful women in the world, wore what seemed like a very dramatic, sophisticated overlay for a totally show-stopping gown. Designed by Schiaparelli, crystalised and encrusted in rhinestones and silver pearls. The only problem? There was actually no dress there to lay it over! The dancer-singer-actress’ full, bare bottom was on display for the world to see! 


Image: Michelle Yeoh

Reminiscent of Eden

That brings me back to the garden. Was it just me or did many of the event’s dresses conjure up images of the Garden of Eden, depicting ethereal florals, rustic forestry and earthen minerals? One could even say the overly prevalent nudity represented temptation: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” the apostle John warned us about (1 John 2:16). The best thing about the Garden of Eden was relationship, glorying in God’s presence. Genesis 3 alludes to a cool breeze blowing in the evening where Adam and Eve would have shared fellowship with the creator. They were God’s perfect, beloved creations, known and accepted exactly as they were, no frills, literally. Yet the frills are the glory of the Met Gala! The dresses, the rhinestones, elaborate, nonsensical costumes and embellishments…The glory of humanity, on full display, says nothing of God and his presence. 

I see lost people who have made themselves like tantalising fruit

As I look upon the inside from very, very far outside the world of the Met Gala, I see lost people who have made themselves like tantalising fruit, only to be picked off and devoured by the enemy. There but for the grace of God go I. I am reminded of that grace, by which we as believers can call ourselves the temples of the Holy Spirit. As New Testament believers, we can do one better than Adam and Eve walking in the presence of God in the Garden. We live actually indwelled by that same Spirit! On the day of Pentecost, there was a sound like a mighty, rushing wind, then tongues of fire appeared and rested on the heads of each one of the disciples and miraculously, they spoke in different languages (see Acts 2:2–4). From then on, each person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17). We do not belong to ourselves. We have been bought with a price, far above $350,000 per table! 

Yes, it’s midsummer. “Sun’s out, buns out,” as they say here in Glasgow! It hits different when you understand those buns are part of the sacred temple of God’s Holy Spirit. How should we clothe him? Don’t be led astray by this world, its nakedness, covered in rhinestones. Let’s choose to honour God with bodies so obviously precious to him; to love, fear and reverently serve him who dwells within us, closer than our very breath.