Last night’s Met Gala theme was an homage to the intersection of fashion and technology, an apt topic for the industry that’s being rocked by Amazon, e-commerce and digital democratization.
And that democratization was in full effect on the red carpet: as stars took over, it was social media and emerging platforms that won out, not the old guard.
Once the Met Gala live story appears at the top of Snapchat’s Stories page, it was hard to look away. The feed was continuously updated with celebrity takeovers with personalized filters, and everyone from Kanye West, to Beyoncé, to Taylor Swift, to Anna Wintour made an appearance in the string of vertical video. It was also the only way to see what actually happens inside the party after the stars shuffled past the press lined up along the Met’s stairs: a performance by The Weeknd, an appearance by Nas, and — of course — Taylor Swift’s dancing.
Beyond the official live story, celebrity and fashion followers on the platform got plenty of first-hand personal stories from attendees including Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Gigi Hadid.
While the price of a ticket to the Met Gala jumped another $10,000 (to $35,000 a pop) this year, affordable brands still made an appearance on the red carpet. For a second year, H&M earned a place in the spotlight on fashion’s most self-important night: Jennifer Hudson, Ciara, Amber Valletta, Lucky Blue Smith and Pyper Smith, and Hailee Steinfeld wore custom dresses designed by the fast-fashion retailer.
Proud Of This Creation We Made Together.#MetGalaHM @hm #manusxmachina#MetGala pic.twitter.com/1iBjVyURex
— Ciara (@ciara) May 3, 2016
Wait according to this Jennifer Hudson is wearing an H&M dress? Like, the H&M where I buy blazers for $19.99? https://t.co/qqYQrSIiGa
— Rose Eveleth (@roseveleth) May 3, 2016
High street retailer Topshop was also represented on the red carpet alongside the Chanels and the Pradas. Models Kate Upton, Stella Maxwell and Taylor Hill wore custom Topshop gowns, while Nick Jonas arrived in a suit designed by Topshop’s menswear arm, Topman.
Of course, not everyone on Twitter was impressed by the lowbrow choice.
if you’re gonna wear a boring top shop dress to the met gala… why even go? pic.twitter.com/LRwzFC6Y7j
— . (@alltoovictoria) May 2, 2016
Marchesa dressed model Karolina Kurkova in a gown that was designed in partnership with IBM Watson, effectively creating the most on-theme outfit for the night. The dress’s entire design process was influenced by Watson’s interpretation of data, color theory and Marchesa’s brand, and once on the red carpet, it was powered by connected LED lights that spoke to Twitter in real time to change colors depending on the social media conversation.
The integration of tech into the dress’s fibers trumped other designers’ efforts to portray technology in fashion, which most commonly resulted in futuristic silver palettes. On the tech front, IBM also effectively stole the red carpet show from Apple, which was a sponsor of the event.
Trying to view the Met Gala action through the lens of Facebook’s live streams was a confusing shuffle through publications’ efforts. Videos from names like Harper’s Bazaar and MTV were limited to the sidelines of the red carpet, meaning viewers could only glimpse the stars walking by from afar, unless they stopped to chat. Live videos also kept playing on loop after they ended, making it difficult to discern what was happening when, and the streams themselves were hard to find. The #MetGala trending page on Facebook pulled one video to the top and combined the rest into a group.
Compared to Snapchat’s up close and personal coverage of the Met Gala, which featured shots from celebrities as they got ready, arrived in limos, walked the carpet and entered the show, live video on Facebook was contained to one constant shot provided by different publishers, which, more often than not, was dull to watch. Not to mention, unlike Snapchat, brands were absent.
Vogue’s Manus x Machina Experience
Following the event, Vogue began posted video after video to Instagram of different celebrities in a small room lined with light beams. The “Manus x Machina Experience” videos, directed by Gordon von Steiner, were clips of Anna Wintour, Kendall Jenner, Kim and Kanye, Madonna, the Olsen twins and more moving around (or in the case of the Olsen twins, staring) in front of the camera. While the videos have averaged 700,000 views on the platform in the past 12 hours, the coverage from Vogue felt starkly static, and out of tune, compared to the live action on Snapchat.
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen in the #ManusxMachina Experience. Directed by @gvsgvs. #MetGala
A video posted by Vogue (@voguemagazine) on
Apple sponsored this year’s Met Gala, Vogue timed the release of its iPhone app to coincide with the event, and Apple’s chief design officer Jonny Ive made a speech at the beginning of the party. However, if you were checking in on the action through social media, Apple’s influence on the event was unclear. Instead, companies like IBM and Verizon, which sponsored the Snapchat Live Story, were front-of-mind.
It also didn’t help that designer Joseph Altuzarra, when asked about wearables, responded with this gem of a quote: “What are wearables? Oh, I have an Apple Watch, but I’m not wearing it.”