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High Fashion Met Gala 2020 Twitter McQueen
Martina Derlacz (@miumiubaybe)

Meet the fashion stans who took 2020’s Met Gala into their own hands

With the glittering ball cancelled thanks to COVID-19, the wildly creative High Fashion Twitter community threw their own URL event instead

The COVID-19 pandemic that’s currently sweeping the planet may have seen the 2020 Met Ball cancelled IRL, but on social media, the news did little to dampen a growing community of fashion stans’ creativity. Known as High Fashion Twitter, with members hailing from around the world, the group decided to throw their own glittering URL event, encouraging members to undertake a series of fashion challenges and share them on the night that would usually see the industry descend on the Met’s red carpet.

United by a love of clothes and the stories and culture that surround them, HF Twitter (as it’s widely known) uses the platform as a way to connect with likeminded people, expand their knowledge, and support each other through their endeavours in fashion and beyond. They’re also incredibly creative and resourceful – scrolling through the URL Met Gala’s dedicated account on the first Monday in May (last week), it was incredibly inspiring to see individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate fashion and offer up their own unique interpretation of this year’s theme (which, FYI, was About Time: Fashion and Duration).  

“The day itself was amazing and the entire team was really surprised, in a good way, about the pure creativity of people,” says Aria Olson, the 19-year-old Kansas City-based brains behind the HF Met Gala, who organised it with a team of the community's editors. “One of the most poignant things to me was the fact that we had young kids participating. There was such a wide and diverse demographic within the submissions and it was so heartwarming to see this excite so many people and uplift so many voices.”

“There was such a wide and diverse demographic within the submissions and it was so heartwarming to see this excite so many people and uplift so many voices” – Aria Olson, HF Twitter Met Gala organiser

Among the submissions were creative moodboards which saw fantasy ensembles come together, legendary fashion looks recreated using items found in participants wardrobes, as well as a series of original creations as part of the event’s styling challenge. 

What was perhaps most exciting about the event was seeing the ‘velvet ropes’ cut, as one HF Twitter community member put it. With fashion once an elitist, largely inaccessible industry, through the internet, the doors have been thrown open to a much wider audience. Essentially, scrolling through the HF Twitter timeline is seeing the democratisation of fashion in action. “The new generation has grown up in a digitally democratised world,” says Olson. “The industry must learn to evolve to meet them.” 

Here, we meet some of the HF Twitter members showcasing their creativity, resourcefulness, and sewing skills via the community’s URL Met Gala and get to know their thoughts of fashion, being part of the event, and what life looks like in their part of the world right now.


“I’m a fashion student and High Fashion Twitter was a place I sort of instantly fell into when I joined Twitter properly last year. I’ve always been a fashion nerd and so I seek it out on any platform I join. It’s a really collaborative sphere, where an amazing group of people share knowledge from both inside and outside the industry, which has made it a great place to expand the way I see fashion. 

For me, fashion is about emotions and storytelling, and attempting to communicate about either myself or a fictional character I’ve dreamt up. I love fashion for the ways it helps me to express my gender as something outside the binary and the freedoms it can give me to escape - especially in trying times like these, when isolation is really getting to me.

For my HF Met Ball look I wanted to mix and match vintage pieces with contemporary ones, leaning into personal fascinations with the past but also looking to the future of dressing. I chose to wear a red velvet Art School dress, which incidentally reminded me of the famous phenomenon of the red carpet. I was thinking of gender issues when I came up with the idea: Art School is one of the few brands radically proposing clothes for people like me who don’t fit, and don’t want to fit, into the binary and cisnormative boxes society wants us to. I was also recalling the now-famous photo of two Victorian AMAB people dressed up in full feminine regalia, and so I honoured their legacy too.  

The HF Gala was an amazing experience planned by my peers and several of my friends that none of us thought would grow to be this big. I’m so excited for next year’s already and can only see its cultural reach growing, this is democratisation of fashion at work!”


“My mother exposed me to fashion at a young age. She used to carefully explain to me what story she believed each designer wanted to convey, and those conversations still mean the world to me. 

I first got involved with High Fashion Twitter during the 2018 Met Gala. For years I stood in the wings admiring everyone’s work but it was that particular year I ran to a store at midnight after the event (yes, Vegas has stores that stay open past 12am) to buy supplies and immediately start making a headdress: there was just something about the Heavenly Bodies theme that made me want to create. I love being part of such an inspiring, supportive community. 

The inspiration behind my Met Ball look came from a behind-the-scenes shot from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, when Kirsten Dunst is in full costume holding an Apple computer. It always stuck in my head. I’d been planning the look since December so I was thrilled when I saw Moschino’s AW20 runway show and Savage x Fenty’s recent Marie-inspired campaign.”


“I’m currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in history, and have been following high fashion Twitter since October 2019. I actually found them when I was looking for pictures from Mugler’s 1995 collection and was immediately engulfed in their posts. 

What I love about the community is that it’s very accepting and inclusive, and more personally, for someone like me who isn’t studying fashion, it’s a great platform to learn more about it and engage with aspiring young creatives who have the same passion I do. Fashion to me is wearable art. It’s a political statement. It’s a medium of expression of your thoughts and creativity.. It’s downsides include its Eurocentric elitism, its gatekeeping, and its lack of strive for sustainability. 

When it came to my look, I took inspiration from 60s Givenchy, old Hollywood, and queer fatales. When I think of the 60s, I think of Audrey Hepburn, Jean Shrimpton, Mary Quant, and more. It was also in the 60s when the Stonewall riots broke out, which paved the way for queer liberation, which is why I wanted to channel a look that was androgynous but still glamorous. The blazer is from Massimo Dutti, the shirt is from Calvin Klein, and the dress and the scarf are both vintage: everything I wore was already in my closet because sustainability is key!”


“When I first joined Twitter, my account was about my recovery from an eating disorder, but I didn’t want this to define me. Soon, I started changing it into a HF account, which is a one in million community. It’s completely different from Instagram where everyone competes with each other and it’s very looks-based. It really amazes me that every time I log into my account I learn something new about fashion. The knowledge, the motivation, and the amount of creativity you get from it is just astonishing. 

The main reason I fell into fashion was because of the way clothes can make you feel. It amazes me that putting on a piece of fabric can make you feel so confident, strong, and in control. But what makes me furious about the industry is sustainability. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in fashion but whatever it is I want to make a difference to its relationship with the environment: that’s why my whole HF Met Gala was thrifted. You not only save a lot of money but you also give new life to garments which can help reduce consumerism. All successful people start somewhere, so this is my start! 

My involvement in the HF Met Gala happened very spontaneously: I was supposed to be studying for a math test but suddenly the teacher changed the date so I had some free time. The dress is from a thrift store and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to recreate this look from Voss (Alexander McQueen’s SS01 show), which in my opinion, has everything: amazing clothes, history, and emotion. The event itself was unreal. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of love people gave me in response to my look, and it was such an inspiring and creative day. It didn’t matter who you are, or where your look was from: all that really mattered was our mutual love of fashion. I’m so grateful and proud of the 11 girls who made this happen.”


“I grew up in Switzerland in a pretty conservative and religious family, and as a response to those restraints I developed a way of expressing myself through drawing and fashion. I love how diverse fashion has become, from the designers and clothes themselves, through to the models and bodies on the runway, and how we can convey a message through clothes and the way we present them: we can use them both to hide and to express ourselves. On the other hand, I dislike the overproduction and overconsumption of the industry and how it impacts the earth and nature. We need to find alternatives to creating clothes that do not impact the planet – I think the future of fashion is digital.  

My HF Met Gala look is a fictitious creature that comes from an apocalyptic future where fashion and technology dominate. I have a vision of a society where artificial intelligence will overtake human intelligence. I’m in sewing school and want to enrol in fashion school eventually, so the satin dress I wore was handmade in my bedroom while I’ve been confined.” 


“I started sewing at the age of 14 as a freshman in high school, and now I’m a self-taught fashion designer. It’s very important to me to work towards being a part of the high end fashion community because I believe in diversity and inclusion. I want to see more representation that looks like me especially – a young black designer. I like the creative aspect of my career and being able to feel, and I love having a picture in my mind, translating it on to paper, then to the mannequin, and soon enough a muse in real life. 

My HF Met Gala look was inspired by the theme with a twist: the focal point was a black ‘Southern Belle’ placed in a serene setting in a gown that denotes class and royalty. I wanted a very classic feel in the construction of the piece, which dates back to the 1800s, bringing in the modern twist through the lowered neckline and the pearl-embellished face mask which reflects what we’re going through today with COVID-19. The fro on my black model (Jalisa Howard) was intentional – usually black women would have their hair pulled back in a tight bun as was deemed appropriate in the renaissance era. It’s funny because having ‘appropriate hair’ is something black girls can relate to today. If you Google ‘Southern Belle’ you will quickly see that I changed the entire concept and idea of what that means. I made her black and strong with a classical touch. 

My top Met Gala red carpet moment was the yellow Guo Pei gown that the internet named ‘the omelette’ that Rihanna wore in 2015 – it was life-changing for me. That was my first time seeing a piece of that capacity on the runway on such an incredible muse: she brought srama back when she hit that carpet. That was the year that I went from creating streetwear to gowns. It was so inspiring.”


“I’m currently living in Saint Petersburg, Russia where I’m studying Russian before I start a masters in Egyptology. I got involved with HF Twitter almost three years ago. I have a very small account which is nice because it acted as my personal space to express my interest in fashion and the arts without any critique from my peers in my personal life. Being part of such a tight-knit community is great, because you have the experiences and points of view from all corners of the earth. 

My Met Gala look is designed, embroidered, and constructed by myself. It was an attempt to recreate the ideas of Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. I had two hands holding my ‘eye’, allowing the accessory to hang from the hand and move as a clock might. The eye itself is fashioned similarly to the accessories in Maison Schiaparelli’s SS20 show.”


“I learn a lot from High Fashion Twitter every day – we have aspiring fashion writers, designers, stylists, models, and those who see it just as a hobby among us, with people joining from all around the world. The different backgrounds provide a fantastic variety of opinions and points of view: we discuss ethics, sustainability, politics, and gossip surrounding the fashion industry, we seek advice and support each other, and we argue a lot too (no family is perfect!). It’s exciting seeing one of your mutuals Tweet about the internship they’ve got in a major fashion house, the piece they wrote for a publication, or even the cute outfit they wore that morning. 

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with fashion itself because while I’m passionate about it, I know there are so many things wrong with the industry as a whole. Depending on your (financial mostly) background, fashion can be a dream or a nightmare. I can’t stand gatekeeping, elitism, excess of collections, cultural appropriation and all the other things that are so awfully recurrent in the industry. But I love and appreciate so much all the people working actively to change those things. 

I wasn’t going to participate in the HF Met Gala but some friends encouraged me at the last minute as I was drying my hair in a turban. I decided to play with some scarves and then I took a selfie of my profile and was like… ‘that reminds me of something!’ I decided I wanted something like “The Girl With The Pearl Earring”, styled by Jacquemus. The blazer I bought in 2016, the pants were thrifted in 2015, and the scarf my mom bought for me at a street fair in Curitiba a while ago. 

On HF Twitter we always talk about making fashion more accessible and cutting the velvet strings. way before the Met Ball was actually cancelled due to the pandemic. The event itself was so fun. I saw so many incredible concepts, looks, illustrations… so many people getting the recognition they deserve. The most iconic Met Gala moment, for me, would be Diana Ross’ feathered dress from 1981. But Rihanna wearing Guo Pei in 2015 is so memorable to me because it was the first time I actually watched the event’s red carpet. If I were going to the ball IRL, I would love to wear Schiaparelli by Daniel Roseberry, Guo Pei, or Iris Van Herpen, but it would depend on the theme of course!”


“I love being part of the HF Twitter community. I’ve learnt so much about the industry through everyone I follow and have also learned to appreciate many other aspects of art and design that I didn’t think of before: everything from chairs and mushrooms through to brutalist architecture. 

I’m currently studying at the London College of Fashion for a BA in menswear design and believe that, whether we like it or not, fashion is an extremely important industry. I love how endless the possibilities are when it comes to design, but dislike that racism is still a very big issue in terms of casting models, as well as cultural appropriation. I also hate the fact that fashion is one of the most polluting industries behind oil and that it’s lack of care for the environment and its ethics in paying factory workers fair wages shows how selfish people in this industry can be. I want to campaign for change and by using Twitter we can hopefully make it happen. The more people behind it, the sooner it will get done. 

For my HF Met Gala look, as the theme was About Time, I wanted to recreate a Victorian era style look but make it modern. I looked towards Virginia Woolf for inspiration as I really enjoy not just her writing but also what she wore. I also wanted to respond to our current situation. I’d signed up to receive a free craft pack from Christopher Kane to make a face mask, so decided to incorporate it into my outfit. My dress and shoes were from Depop and the lace top I bought as a teenager: it was important to me to be sustainable. 

The event itself was so great. It showed everyone’s creative flair and what young people have to offer when it comes to fashion, and proved fashion can be made using whatever you have. It shows we can create something new from something old, and that we don’t need to give in to society’s pressures of buying new constantly. I really hope it creates an example for the industry’s current designers.”