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Sinéad Burke is the first little person to attend the Met Gala

“It is surreal, inspiring and humbling to be gracing the [Met Gala's] infamous red carpet,” Burke wrote in Vogue.

Sinéad Burke attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala.
Sinéad Burke attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala.
Image: Charles Sykes

IRISH WRITER AND activist Sinéad Burke is the first little person to attend the Met Gala, an extravagant fashion event in the US where celebrities raise funds for The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Burke – who was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, and is 3ft 5in in height – is a campaigner, advocate and academic, and is a contributing editor at fashion magazine Vogue UK.

Writing in Vogue, Burke said that the Met Gala has been “a dream and objective” for her for as long as she can remember.

“Tonight marks the first time that a little person has attended the Met Gala,” she wrote.  “It is surreal, inspiring and humbling to be gracing the infamous red carpet.”

She thanked Gucci, who designed the dress Burke wore, and the organisers of the event for thinking of her needs.

Prior to tonight, I practised the stairs, and did an accessibility audit of the seating, bathrooms, elevators and corridors to figure out where and how we could ensure that I am as independent as possible on this very glamorous night. (Speaking of glamorous – my footstools have been decorated to seamlessly blend with the Met Gala furniture.)

Burke has campaigned for companies – particularly those in the fashion industry – to design products for minorities for whom a generic product mightn’t be suitable.

Last night’s gala kicks off the Met’s annual major fashion exhibition, with seats going for $35,000 a piece (equal to around €31,200).

Attendance is by invitation only, and word has it that Vogue editor extraordinaire Anna Wintour has the final say over each person on the guest list.

Gucci designer Alessandro Michele, British singer Harry Styles and tennis star Serena Williams joined Wintour and Gaga to co-chair the event, which raises money for its Costume Institute. Irish actor Saoirse Ronan also attended the event.

2019 MET Museum Costume Institute Benefit Gala Saoirse Ronan attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala. Source: Charles Sykes

This year’s theme is based on Notes on Camp, an essay written in 1964 by American author Susan Sontag.

“Camp is by nature subversive… confronting and challenging the status quo,” the Costume Institute’s head curator Andrew Bolton said at a press event ahead of the gala.

In the end, the purpose of camp is to put a smile on our faces and a warm glow in our hearts.

Burke said of the theme: “Camp is indescribable, but for me, it constitutes a safe space for anyone who dares to be different. It’s a home for the unpredictable.”

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