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Amanda Gorman and Billie Eilish among picks to co-chair 2021 Met Gala

The Guardian - Tue May 4 09:00

The organizers of New York’s famous Met Gala have chosen a slate of young and diverse celebrities as co-chairs in an apparent bid to attract a new generation to the otherwise exclusive social highlight of the fashion year in America.

This year’s gala will see poet Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothée Chalamet and tennis star Naomi Osaka as co-chairs. Gorman (23) Eilish (19) Chalamet (26) and Osaka (23) are the youngest ever co-chairs and are part of US Vogue’s ongoing campaign to attract readers from Generation Z.

In 2019 Vogue announced the “Vogue Values” editorial mission statement, where 26 international Vogue editors announced they stood for the values of “diversity, responsibility and respect for individuals, communities and for our natural environment”.

However, these attempts to align themselves with Gen Z values of diversity and inclusivity come after a period of tumult for US Vogue, which has been edited by Anna Wintour since 1988.

Last year former editor-at-large André Leon Talley wrote in his book The Chiffon Trenches that Wintour was: “Immune to anyone other than the powerful and famous who populate the pages of Vogue.” Wintour has frequently been portrayed as fostering an air of exclusivity and scarcity that has often been a defining force in the fashion industry for years.

But the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement has put pressure on the fashion industry to act more responsibly and become more embracing of diversity.

After the murder of George Floyd sparked global anti-racism protests, fashion brands were called to account on social media for outward statements of allyship with the Black Lives Matter movement while maintaining internal cultures that did not reflect diversity.

In June, Wintour sent an internal memo to employees acknowledging that the magazine had: “Made mistakes … publishing images or stories that had been hurtful or intolerant.” She added that: “It can’t be easy being a black employee at Vogue and there are too few of you.”

Meanwhile, Teen Vogue has been mired in a race controversy after Wintour was involved in the hiring and then firing of new editor Alexi McCammond who had sent historic racist, anti-Asian tweets.

Wintour will serve as an honorary chair for the Met Gala in September, alongside designer Tom Ford and Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram.