Yesterday brought the announcement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute (which has subsequently been renamed as the Anna Wintour Costume Center – I’m not joking) that the theme for next year’s Met Gala and corresponding exhibition will be “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Also revealed: the event’s co-chairs, Idris Elba, Apple's Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift, and Anna Wintour, and its sponsor, tech giant Apple. The Apple sponsorship makes perfect sense considering its poaching of high level fashion figures, the Hermes Apple Watch, its other partnerships with fashion brands, etc. So, on the heels of such news, the one truly resounding question has been: Why Taylor Swift?
The answer is quite simple. It has nothing to do with her interest in fashion or her level of "fashionability" (note: that awesome Libertine sequined bomber she's been wearing on tour) or anything like that. Fashion is a business, and thus, it is because she has truly major star power. Period. She is one of the most famous people in the world. It really is as straight forward as that.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Swift has something of an ENORMOUS following – in Hollywood, in fashion (she’s basically best friends with every “it” model of the moment), and maybe most importantly, amongst regular people, too. She earned the title of the top release of 2014 – for her 1989 album – with over 3.6 million copies sold, making her one of only three artists with a platinum album last year. Her corresponding tour has grossed over $130 million thus far, putting it on track to become her highest-grossing tour ever. She also has an extremely impressive following on every form of social media (think: 50.8 million followers on Instagram and 64.8 million on Twitter). In short: she possesses serious star power.
As for the Met Gala, it is the biggest night in fashion. It is the Oscars of the acting world, the Grammys of the music world, the ESPYs(?) of the sports world, or whatever you’d prefer to liken it to. It is the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fundraiser and exhibition opening for the museum’s Costume Institute, and it has become not only New York City’s biggest society event of the year, but it is also one of the most significant red carpets for fashion in the world.
While the Met Gala it is easily the fashion industry’s biggest night (and a huge night for the Costume Institute, which in 2014, generated almost $12 million in connection with the Gala), it is not just about the fashion industry. Instead, it is arguably the 500 “Oscar-winning actresses and actors, Wall Street titans, Silicon Valley wunderkinds and Hollywood players,” as the New York Times’s Vanessa Friedman put it, who really make the evening. Beginning in 2003 (under the director of Vogue editor in chief, Anna Wintour, of course), celebrities began to serve as hosts of the Met Ball. And interestingly, every female Hollywood star who has served as a host has been on the cover of Vogue.
But back to Taylor, who is easily one of the youngest and most buzzy stars to host to date. Much like the annual Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards – another big night in fashion – most of the designers themselves are not enough to draw the maximum amount of publicity to put the event on the map. Put big name celebs into the equation and that changes everything; this once New York-centric event becomes one with consistent international coverage. “Attendance at the gala has become something you now have to consider as part of a strategy for any designer in the world,” said Ed Filipowski, co-president of the public relations and production firm KCD. “No other international event even comes close.”
By packing the red carpet with big name celebrities (by making them co-chairs (note: Swift did not attend last year) and inviting them to sit at your very expensive table), the Costume Institute has broadened the appeal of the evening and absolutely demanded widespread media attention, as well as all-out social media domination.
And Taylor Swift will certainly ensure maximum publicity on the evening of the Gala. It certainly does not hurt that she will likely have her crew of supermodels (think: Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevingne, etc.), singers like Selena Gomez and Lorde, and social media “it” girls like Kendall and Gigi, in tow. In our age of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and the like, Swift is nothing if not extremely relevant and so, she will have a significant segment of the population watching. Awaiting her arrival. Awaiting tweets about who designed her gown. In fact, she may even break the Internet on the evening of the 2016 Met Gala. And those in her orbit (like Vogue, the Costume Institute, etc.) will benefit enormously.