To me, the most important thing to judge at the Met Gala is being on theme. If I were to come here and judge based on whether the outfit was pretty, it would not really be fair nor would it be focusing on the goal of the Met Gala, which is celebrating the theme of the exhibit. These are the looks I thought nailed it in one way or another, but I would like to say overall I wanted to see more American designers outfits worn, more representation of designers and people on the carpet, and more outside-of-the-box ideas. Furthermore, I am not a professional fashion critic and can’t deem what is fashionable and what is not. DISCLAIMER – I am not attacking any of these people, I am just giving my thoughts on the outfits. That all being said, here is my review of the most on theme looks.
MOST ON THEME:
Leon Bridges → He’s from Texas and wanted to honor that by wearing Western-style suede jacket and a cowboy hat. Classic and home-y and simple, I love it.
Billie Eilish → Ok, I must say, I predicted this look in JULY. After her British Vogue Cover and her reinventing her image and speaking on her over-sexualization, I knew the American Lexicon theme of the gala would give her the chance to continue this new look. My prediction was that she would pay homage to Marilyn Monroe, a blonde bombshell who is a key figure of American pop culture and is often cited as a young star who was sexualized to a damaging level. Eilish said that “She looked to the Holiday Barbies she’d wanted every Christmas growing up and the Old Hollywood sophistication of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe for inspiration” I must say, I really appreciated all the stars who used elements of their personal experience with American culture and fashion and combined them with aspects that were being shown in the exhibit.
Quannah Chasinghorse – Quannah Chasinghorse wore a flowy, cut-out gold dress with turquoise jewelry, designed by her aunt, to represent her Navajo origins. In a Vogue portfolio, Chasinghorse said she was excited to give indigenous artists a seat at the table, literally this time. She stated that it was “extremely important to represent and bring authentic and true American culture to this year’s theme, as Native American culture has been appropriated and misrepresented in fashion so many times”.
Grimes → At first, I was not a big supporter and did not understand how it related to the theme. BUT THEN, I read that her sword/bag accessory was made of melted down assault rifles, that were given away by people who no longer felt the need to own them after the mass shootings in America. She made a political statement about American culture without being obvious and while being quirky, so go her.
Lily Rose Depp → Everyone said her outfit was boring, but I disagree. I found it to be homage to the fashion of the 2000s, a drop waist skirt and a crop top, with an asymmetrical belt. I found this to be the closest she could get to American fashion, considering that the brand she is under contract with, Chanel, is a more traditional Parisian brand.
Lili Reinhart → At first glance, I thought her dress would’ve been perfect for CAMP, not necessarily American Lexicon. It was another one of those looks that I did not appreciate until I knew the meaning behind. The flowers that lined Lili’s Christian Siriano dress were actually the state flower of all 50 states. I thought this was a unique interpretation of American fashion and a dress that had some background to it.
Kendall Jenner → This was honestly one of my favorite looks of the night, but I honestly liked her after party dress more. (whoops, I am not supposed to say that.) Similar to Billie’s dress, Kendall chose to pay homage to a key figure in American pop culture, especially fashion. Her dress was modelled after Eliza Dolittle aka Hepburn in My Fair Lady, a blockbuster before the term blockbuster was used. It would have earned almost 1 billion in the box office today, which highlights its significance on the American film market. While Jenner’s gala dress was more remarkable in design, I found her after party dress to be more remarkable in thought. It was a modern version of Jo Stockon (another character portrayed by Hepburn), a shy American girl who gets transformed into an international supermodel. This story is more similar to who Kendall Jenner is and adds a special connection between the dress, the origin, and the woman wearing it. Additionally, Jenner decided to pay this homage by wearing Givenchy, the brand created by Hubert de Givenchy, one of Hepburn’s closest collaborators and friends. The designer, Matthew Williams, wanted that connection with French couture and American culture” to be shown.
Gigi Hadid → This look was immaculate from head to toe at first glance, and got even better when she explained it. In her Vogue interview, she said she wanted to honor the simplicity of American design and also give a nod to “the first ladies who have carried our country over the years…a little nod to 50s and 60s Vogue” covers. I also saw a bit of a Jessica Rabbit moment, a symbol of bombshells in America. This look hit the theme without being over the top or obvious, which is a challenging task.
Emily Blunt → Emily Blunt, like others on the red carpet, chose a classic Hollywood star to emulate, which was Hedy Lammar. She recreated Lammar’s “Ziegfeld Girl” with the starry headdress and draped, embroidered, white gown. Another look that caught your eye and had a good backstory.
JLo → I’m not exactly sure if she was trying to be the American eagle or a cowboy, but either way she represented a very stereotypical, traditional America.
Lupita Nyongo → In my mind, Lupita always kills it, except for the CAMP 2019 look (shh, we don’t talk about that). I look forward to her Oscar looks every year. For the 2021 Met Gala, she did not disappoint. She went a classic American route, with a subtle hint of a Britney Spears iconic moment, and wore a bustier denim gown. Lupita also styled her hair into an afro with sculptural movements, making another statement within her look.
Tyler Mitchell → The young Vogue photographer wore a red, white, and blue suit by Body that was reminiscent of old sports jerseys. It was understated and chic but definitely made you think of classic “AMERICA” when you looked at it. It was a nice way to honor sports, a huge shaping factor of America’s culture, and celebrate fashion statements.
Gemma Chan → Gemma Chan was another actress who wanted to pay homage to a classic Hollywood starlet, Anna May Wong. She wore a dress by Prabal Gurung, who embroidered the dress with ancient Chinese textiles that are featured in the Met’s exhibit. Chan and Gurung wanted to honor Anna May Wong because, as Chan said in her Instagram caption, Anna was a “trailblazer, fashion icon and woman ahead of her time”. As well as the daughter of an immigrant and someone who was proud of her Chinese-American identity. The craftsmanship, appreciation, and thought behind the dress made it shine even more than it already did.
Amandla Stenberg → When I first saw the suit, I thought it was a modern take on the uniform of the Founding Fathers, with the long coat jacket and white, fluffy fabric that lined it. After doing further research I found out that Amandla Stenberg collaborated with American designer Thom Browne for her suit look, and that Stenberg’s goal was to show off American ballroom style as well as the “queer people and Black people” who were responsible for it. Stenberg also wanted to show off features that remind her of what she defines as American fashion, such as hair “braided look that emulated a durag, a small grill piece, and super-long, curved acrylic nails.” I really appreciated how Amandla and Thom designed the look based on how THEY see American fashion, not what the typical definition of American fashion might be.
Imaan Hammam → Imaan Hammam wore an archive Versace dress that was sheer, silver, and lined with stars. While I couldn’t find a deeper explanation, I thought it was elegant and understated but conveyed the theme by giving it a star spangled banner vibe.
Anok Yai → Anok Yai killed it. She was giving American Hollywood drama with a slick hair-do, huge silver stars on a black gown, classic black gloves and a large feather boa. Yai paid homage to Josephine Baker and her influence on fashion with this look. Even without the reference, I would have put this on the most on theme list based on appearances alone. But now, knowing it took inspiration from an American woman who made daring fashion choices, makes it even better.
Nikkie de Jager → The openly trans makeup artist wanted to represent the LBTQ+ activist and legend, Marsha P Johnson. In doing so, Jager wore a flower crown and a sash that said “Pay It No Mind”, inspired after the famous image of Johnson. I loved this specific reference that went beyond American Hollywood and really spoke on American culture. It was great to have more representation at the gala this year, especially with thoughtful intentions and designs.
Zoey Deutch → While many carpet goers gave Cher 70s vibes, Zoey Deutch did it best. She was dripping in lavender Versace crystals with waist length raven hair and glittery eye makeup; a sexy, modern disco queen. She also wowed with her after party look, which was a 60s patterned GoGo girl outfit. She stuck to the theme in a very obvious way, but made no mistakes.
Kaia Gerber → It was clear that Kaia Gerber thought deeply about how to represent American fashion, American culture, and the Met gala itself with her look, which she executed perfectly with the help of the team at Oscar De La Renta. She honored those three categories by wearing a replaced Halston (an iconic American designer) dress that was originally made for Bianca Jagger (a fashion icon) at the 1981 Met gala (an iconic fashion and American event). I thought it was a nice touch to consider how much the Met gala and the costume institute at the Met shape American fashion too.
Yara Shaidi → Yara Shaidi chose to replicate Josephine Baker’s style because she was a “powerhouse renegade black American artist”. The connection continues because Yara Shaidi is a Dior ambassador and Josephine Baker was a friend and frequent wearer of Christian Dior. This special connection added a layer to why Yara embodied Josephine, beyond their similarities as Black women in entertainment and influential activists.
Saweetie → Saweetie wore a crystal embellished dress from Christian Cowan that was one Black American flag and one Filipino flag sewed together because that represented her identity as an “American” girl. I appreciated that she didn’t seek inspiration from others for what American fashion meant, but like Amandla Stenberg, took inspiration for how she personally defined American fashion and identity. Plus, she makes everything hot.
Dixie D’amelio → While I agree that the Met Gala should be reserved for real artists and trail blazers in fashion, film, and politics and that it is not really the event for social media stars, I thought Dixie D’Amelio did pretty well. I am not sure what her inspiration was but IF it was Holly Golightly in the Sing Sing scene with the wide brim and LBD, then I am into it. Dixie, please confirm or deny.
Barbie Ferreira → Barbie Ferreira served classic 1920’s Great Gatsby/burlesque/flapper girl with a taste of 50s hair curls. It was glamorous and reflected how America can be over the top.
Amanda Gorman → I expected nothing less from Amanda Gorman than a beautiful explanation and dress. Her dress was inspired by the Statue of Liberty, with draping layers, the bright blue color because it is on water, and a clutch with a phrase from the statue. Gorman described her goal as celebrating America and its diversity, thus taking inspiration from the Statue of Liberty, which is the symbol of immigrants and a new beginning.
Nicola Peltz → Nicola Peltz wore a pink embellished dress with white gloves and big hair, which was reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in the scene of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. With the sheer cut out and heavy eyeliner, she added a modern twist on an American classic.
Megan Rapinoe → Megan Rapinoe went with the typical red, white, and blue uniform but added her own detail with a blue clutch stating “In Gay We Trust”. I loved the message she was sending about inclusivity and representation in America and being authentic to her identity. It was creative of Amanda and Megan to think beyond the outfit itself, but how the accessories can go with the theme too.
Lily Aldridge → Lily Aldridge went classic American country girl with Ralph Lauren. She paired a staple American piece, a white button down, with a cowboy belt and a fringed skirt. I liked how she combined a staple with a piece that represents her roots in Nashville (cowboy belt), and a fringe skirt (taking style notes from flappers in the 20s).
Shawn Mendes → Shawn Mendes has been more adventurous with his recent looks so he went shirtless with leather items for the Met Gala. I thought he was doing a little Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA leather jacket moment, but Mendes described his look as being inspired by Studio 54 and tapped into the “American rockstar who drinks a little too much”Jeremy O Harris → Jeremy O Harris went with more current American style, differentiating himself from the rest, by going 90s/early 00s with an Aalyiah tribute through Tommy Hilfiger pieces. In a CNN profile, Harris said he “always wanted to emulate that look, so when I started working with Tommy Hilfiger (on my Met Gala outfit), I asked if we could pay homage to that specific look and do a yellow bomber jacket but (more) grand and theatrical.” Jeremy O Harris took the grand-ness and logo mania theme of America and combined it with a fashion star who shaped his childhood. Personal and on theme!