Introducing The Latino Who Makes The Met Gala Magic Happen
A colossal flower arrangement is one of the most anticipated aspects of the Met Gala, celebrated in New York City every May 1st.
In past years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art was transformed by a double helix of roses, a 25-foot tall, flamboyantly fuschia pink flamingo centerpiece made with 30,000 flowers, and a rose recreation of the papal crown.
Such extravagance would have left even Queen Marie Antoinette speechless — and she had the opulence of Versailles and the Petit Trianon.
So, who is the visionary behind all the floral glamour and stunning exhibits at fashion’s greatest night?
If you don’t know him, meet Colombian event planner Raul Avila, who has dressed the Met Gala in flowers and has been Vogue editrix Anna Wintour’s magician of beauty since 2007.
Wintour has organized and been at the helm of the Met Gala since 1995 — lifting it to become a must in the fashion calendar, where the who’s-who’s go to be seen.
The gala is a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and year after year raises eight-figure sums.
This year’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” celebrates the work and life of the late designer Karl Lagerfeld — a celebrated yet problematic fashion icon.
Lagerfeld designed for many houses — including his brand, Patou, Balmain, Chloé, Fendi, and Chanel — a fashion house he saved from financial collapse and was at the helm of for three decades.
He is also known for being the first fashion designer to create a perfume and attach his full name to the product without having his own fashion house — Chloé, Parfums Lagerfeld.
The Met Gala’s dress code is “in honor of Karl” — we will see what that means on the night
But what everyone is anxious to take in is what deliciously outrageous creation Avila will adorn this year’s gala with.
Avila, one of the most celebrated impresario of galas, arrived in New York City in 1984 from his native Bogota, Colombia.
Taken by the intricate set designs he saw at the New York Fashion Week shows, Avila knew then that his metier was production.
He began working as an assistant to NYC’s famous event planner Robert Isabell (who worked with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and coordinated her funeral).
After 14 years under Isabell’s wing, he set out independently, creating Raul Avila, Inc. Undoubtedly, you can see Isabell in Avila’s audacious yet tasteful spectacles.
Avila’s roster of clients is impressive. It features Wintour, Aerin Lauder (of the Estee Lauder family fortune), Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Van Clef and Arpels, Tom Ford, Costume Institute Cala, and Cartier, just to name a few.
Much like his mentor, he says it with flowers and will do so again at the Met Gala this year
Among the rumored Latino attendees to the gala are Rosalia, Bad Bunny, Cardi B, Jenna Ortega, and Penelope Cruz (one of the co-chairs).
But not actress Selena Gomez. According to a post on TikTok, her manager said the actress would not attend the Met Gala this year but gave no reason.
The accolades and brilliant speeches about Lagerfeld must address the designer’s problematic views on women, race, and what he believed constituted beauty.
He cultivated a persona as “the Kaiser,” aloof, hidden behind sunglasses, and forever sporting Warholian white hair in a ponytail.
“The Kaiser” had a sharp, often cruel, tongue and was not afraid to use it
He said the British singer Adele was “a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” He said model Heidi Klum was not a model because she was “too heavy and had too big a bust. And she always grins so stupidly. That is not avant-garde — that is commercial!”
There are other incidents, like sending flowers to accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then director of the International Monetary Fund, on his return to Paris, or pouring opprobrium on the memory of French fashion designer Coco Chanel — stating she was “never a feminist” because “was never ugly enough for that.”
His comments on Muslims were worse. Lagerfeld criticized Germany, where he was born, on a French show, for taking in Muslim refugees.
“I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust,'” he said
So, it’s no wonder that the official page of high fashions Met Gala event, HF Twitt Met Gala, posted this:
It also makes you think how comfortable a Latino like Avila is while adorning Lagerfeld’s legacy with beautiful flowers.
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