The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Met Gala’s ‘The Garden of Time’ is a thought-provoking classic

“The Garden of Time” tells a haunting tale of wealth and mortality.

Flashy dresses. Lavish accessories. A-list celebrities. 

Whether it was controversy-filled headliners or YouTube outfit reviews, the Met Gala 2024 was definitely a topic of conversation. However, there’s one topic constantly overshadowed by the media frenzy—the story of the dress code inspiration.

This year’s Met Gala dress code was “The Garden of Time,” based on a short story by J.G. Ballard in 1962 of the same name. The story tells the tale of a couple, Count Axel and his unnamed wife, who live isolated in a seemingly utopia villa. However, outside their haven is an impending mob of peasants, constantly moving towards the couple’s home. The only thing that pushes the mob back is the garden of time flowers. Every few days, Axel goes into his garden of time flowers and snips one, effectively buying more time for the couple. However, the amount of time flowers are limited and as Axel gets closer and closer to snipping the last one, the couple has to make peace with their imminent doom.

One thing that stood out to me in this short story is how well Ballard layered emotions so subtly. Although in the beginning, Ballard describes the villa as a place of paradise, the stillness he captures includes some level of hauntedness. Everything is too perfect. Throughout the story, as the mob draw closer and closer, Ballard continues his calm style of writing. It’s the undisturbedness of the characters even as they face their end that fills readers with uneasiness and tension.

Throughout his career as a writer, Ballard became known for his provocative works and there are many interpretations of what messages “The Garden of Time” could be trying to send. One of the most popular interpretations, especially during the relevance of the backlash this year’s Met Gala received, is the fragility of wealth and the unstoppable nature of time. Ultimately, the wealthy are just as human as the rest of the human population and are subject to the same inevitability of time. No amount of wealth can shield fate.

In addition, while reading this short story, I started wondering about the mob’s purpose for trying to intrude into the couple’s home. The plot of “The Garden of Time” is written with extremely little context and the mob is not given a motive for their want for destruction. However, after reading more about the controversy of this year’s Met Gala, I realized how well this short story mirrored the current situation of our world. While reading, readers are made to victimize the wealthy couple and demonize the mob of peasants, who no doubt, are so angry they are forced to resort to violence.

As real-life situations continue to reflect the story, “The Garden of Time” makes a powerful statement about the state of humanity and the consequences that will inevitably follow. Filled with elegant writing and gripping scenes, this short story is a must-read. 

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