The Anti-Met Gala Raises Funds for Medical Debt

The red carpet featured noncelebrity guests in homemade costumes. “This is a better function, with a better message,” one guest said.

Twenty-four hours before the Met Gala, a starkly different sort of gala occurred in Brooklyn at the Bell House, a concert venue that sits on a lonesome industrial street near the Gowanus Canal.

It was the second annual Debt Gala, which bills itself as a D.I.Y. alternative to the lavish spring benefit in Manhattan, which raises hundreds of millions each year for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute.

The theme, “Sleeping Baddies: Slumber Party,” was a parody of this year’s Met ball theme, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” Many of the participants at the Bell House wore bathrobes, pajamas and fuzzy slippers, along with sleep masks, travel pillows and other slumber-centric accessories.

Tom Costello, an organizer of the event, wore a costume that included a built-in pillow.Ben Sklar for The New York Times

The Debt Gala is also a benefit that seeks to raise awareness of personal debt burden and health care inequality, and proceeds from its $35 tickets went toward organizations that help relieve people from heavy medical debt. This year’s recipients were the Debt Collective, a national union of debtors, and Dollar For, a medical nonprofit.

Beneath an overcast sky on Sunday, the Debt Gala’s participants marched through a light rain to enter the venue, where they modeled their homemade costumes on a red carpet. Among them was Allison Gould, who wore a dress made from teddy bears that she had stitched together.

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