Artist’s Vaccine-Inspired Met Gala Dress Is a Tribute to Science

Every first Monday in May since 1948, society’s cultural haut monde gathers under the guise of fundraising for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute to compete for the most fashionable, and increasingly most outlandish, outfit in the Met Gala. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on New York City’s annual elite extravaganza, forcing the museum to cancel its 2020 event altogether and postpone this year’s festivities.

This minor setback hasn’t stopped Brendan McCann, an artist and art teacher based in New York, from dreaming up his own look for the coveted night. His entirely handmade dress honors the real celebrities of our era: the scientists and medical experts who created safe and effective coronavirus vaccines in record time.

“The Met Gala has always been my favorite fashion event of the year,” McCann told Hyperallergic. “The fashion is always so over the top and it’s the chance for the stars to really step out of the box.” While quarantining last spring, he created a gown inspired by the theme of the canceled gala using household items including old curtains, a trash bag, and a kitchen clock.

Brendan McCann posing with a Krispy Kreme donut by the steps of the Met. (photo by Josh Levinson / @JKLPhoto, courtesy of Brendan McCann)

This year, his dress features a flared skirt of paper vaccination cards and an asymmetrical corset composed of jeweled Band-Aids. The ensemble comes together with a towering needle headpiece and a plastic “FAUCI” clutch filled with donuts freely provided by Krispy Kreme to anyone who is vaccinated. Purple latex gloves complete the look.

“The vaccination couture is made out of a table cover, poster board, craft foam, and other materials I had lying around my apartment, and some things from the dollar store,” McCann said.

“One day I hope I can attend the actual Gala,” he added. “It would be a dream come true. Even if they just want me to vacuum the steps … I’m available!” (Hey Max Hollein, we hope you’re listening!)

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