At the height of rising tension and the performative dismantling of the systems that have been in place for decades, the phrase “championing Black people” was tossed around to seem like people were doing their part. In reality, the performative change evoked by brands and the like, including addressing egregious practices and ideals that uphold the fashion industry, fell short of genuine change— offering nothing but black squares and apologies.
As many watch in awe of the Met Gala, with some of the top talent across various industries attending, Black designers are often forgotten in the shuffle. The tables for the star-studded event are primarily acquired by European brands and fashion houses, such as Christian Dior, Valentino, and Prada. They then select talent to wear their garments and sit at their respective table. The price for a table ranges from $200,000 – $300,000, which in part shuts emerging and independent Black designers out of the conversation.
Last night at the Met Gala, British race car driver Lewis Hamilton took the phrase that had been thrown around so loosely this past year into his own hands. Hamilton purchased his own table and invited three emerging Black designers to join him, including Jason Rembert of Aliette, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, and Kenneth Nicolson of the namesake brand.
Other young Black talents joined Hamilton and the designers at the table, including celebrity stylist Law Roach, Sha’Carri Richardson, and Alton Mason, who wore custom Theophilio, and Kehlani, who wore Aliette. Hamilton himself donned a custom Kenneth Nicholson Italian black woolen tailored jacket and trousers, paired with a white embroidered lace long sleeve shirt with a side insert.
After fashion’s biggest night, Hamilton continued to boast about the designers and their work via his social media, noting, “These designers deserve this moment just as much as any other designer who attends the Met Gala. The goal is and always will be to open doors for young Black creatives.” Hamilton sent a clear message that the fashion industry must invest in the talent they wish to see evolve and lead, but if not, he’s more than willing to give them a seat at the table.