Don’t Be Fooled by These AI-Generated Met Gala Looks

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AI deepfakes are a growing issue in arenas from pop music to fine art. On Monday night, the Met Gala red carpet was no exception. After stars began arriving to fashion’s biggest night of the year, multiple AI images of celebrities began circulating online, and in some cases it was difficult to discern what was real.

The first Monday in May is one of the most anticipated events of the year, bringing out many of the biggest names in entertainment and fashion. And there are always certain stars whose arrival at the Metropolitan Museum of Art staircase in New York City, to celebrate the Costume Institute’s latest exhibition, is especially eagerly anticipated. This year, X users took advantage of fans’ excitement to see these celebrities by circulating artificially generated images of stars including Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Selena Gomez—all of whom were in reality not present on the red carpet.

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Early in the evening, the first AI image that began to circulate was of Perry in a floral gown that appeared to be trimmed with moss, inspired by the night’s theme, “Sleeping Beauties: The Garden of Time.” The post was uploaded to X at the start of the Met Gala red carpet and, over the course of three hours, garnered over 288,000 likes and more than 9 million views. It was uploaded with the simple caption, “Katy Perry. That’s it” and the Met Gala hashtag.

More AI images of Perry seemingly walking the carpet began cropping up across X. Another image shows an AI version of the singer wearing a corseted gown with a vineyard-inspired train and a key breastplate. This post was viewed over 2 million times and garnered over 94,000 likes. The singer liked both of the posts on X.

Rihanna is one of the most sought-after celebrities on the Met Gala red carpet because she consistently surprises and delights with her looks for the event. But the artist and fashion mogul decided to skip out on tonight’s festivities, as reported by People. That didn’t stop onlookers on the internet from bringing her to the gala themselves, creating AI renditions of what they thought she might wear on the carpet. One user uploaded a photo of the AI creation of Rihanna in a mermaid-style gown with a circular armpiece featuring an embroidered scene of flora and fauna—arguably too safe of a choice given Rihanna’s fashion choices in the past.

Gomez, too, was artificially dressed for the event, in an AI-generated image of a blue, green, and purple gown reminiscent of a butterfly.

While all of the posts have a bit of an uncanny valley effect, their accuracy and detail is such that it is not surprising that many online could not spot the difference. By 10 p.m., the carpet had wrapped up and all of the celebrities slated to attend the gala had made their way inside, so it’s safe to assume that any new photos that emerge are most likely not real. But the evening served as a reminder that such images are a part of our new reality online, and our ability to discern the fake from the real is a key part of media literacy—at least until the point at which it becomes impossible to tell.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at