Abby Hack

Abby is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois. She is a Global Studies and History major with a focus in human rights. She speaks French and is in the process of learning Arabic. Abby studied in Paris last spring where she had the opportunity to learn and interact with the different immigrant communities there. She is very passionate about global issues and is excited to use this time at the Advocacy Project to tackle some of these issues in a concrete way.

The New Gilded Age

13 May

Fashion’s most anticipated weekend of the year occurred last weekend: the Annual Met Gala. What started as a fundraiser for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York has turned into the biggest event for designers, celebrities and fashion-minded individuals. What separates the Met Gala from other events is the use of a theme to dictate the dress code of the evening. Previous themes have been Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination and Camp: Notes on Fashion.

This years theme, in America: An Anthology of Fashion was intended to be focus on the Gilded Age in American fashion and thus this year’s earned the nickname “Gilded Glamour”. Gilded Age fashion, from 1870 to 1900, is defined by extravagant silhouettes and fabrics, lavish hats, and clothing that reflected new found prosperity. However, when most people think of the Gilded Age, they don’t think of the fashion, they think of the massive political and socio-economic changes that took place at the time.

Politcal cartoon from 1888.

The phrase “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain and refers to the idea that the problems of the era were covered in a thin layer of gold by the wealthy and elite of the time. The rich kept getting richer while the poor class, comprised mainly of recent immigrants and people of color, Thus, there is nothing more in touch with this concept than hosting a gala for the ultra wealthy (tickets to the gala cost $35,000 each) while millions of Americans are still dealing with the impacts of inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and general political and social trends that have been observed in the past few years.

While we all can and certainly should enjoy the fashion of the night, it is important to not ignore the greater concept of what the event signifies. Each year, debates ensue regarding how “in theme” each guest’s costume was, one could argue that any attendee at this event was in theme regardless of their outfit, simply because of the striking comparisons of the wealth and prestige of these individuals compared to say, the robber barons of the Gilded Age. While the celebrities get to end their night at lavish parties without any real thought to what the Gilded Age really means, the rest of us go to bed, only to wake up early and continue living out the New Gilded Age.

Posted By Abby Hack

Posted May 13th, 2022

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