The Met Gala carpet this year was littered with bed sheet draped dresses, sequins, tulle and the majority of the attendees not following the dress code. Every year there is always the debate of a celebrity’s outfit or who’s on the best-dressed list and this year was not an exception. The theme for this year’s Met Gala was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” in honor of 300 years of American fashion. I expected to see references to iconic figures in America such as Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy or Michelle Obama. Other references expected to show up on the red carpet were of past decades, such as the 90s or 50s, or perhaps reference to specific styles such as western wear or modern street style. However, the invitation stating this year’s theme must have gotten lost for many as very few attendees followed the theme accordingly. When judging the Met Gala’s red carpet looks, there are two different categories: people who followed the theme and people who did not. For both categories, there are people who are on the best-dressed list and others that look like a mess regardless of following the theme or not.
Some took the “American” theme a step further and used their look to make a political statement. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) caused public outrage for attending the event while wearing a white, floor-length gown by Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies. What really caused the debate was the phrase “Tax the Rich” printed in bright red letters on the white dress. What a better place to make a statement than a gala full of the rich people that need to be taxed more?
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only one to make a political statement. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was seen in a suffrage-themed look with “Equal Rights For Women” banners draped across her body. Model, Cara Delevingne, wore a bib top from Dior reading “Peg the Patriachy.” Delevinge told Vogue, “It’s got a clear message that’s meant to be a bit more lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek.”
There were also the attendees that they themselves fit the theme of “American Fashion.” Asian-American actor, Simu Liu explained it perfectly on how he fit the theme as an Asian-American. He wrote on his Instagram how Hollywood did not celebrate people to looked like him and how attending the Met Gala as an Asian-American is so important to take up a once exclusive space. So, regardless of what stars wore such as Normani, Lil Nas X, Simone Biles and other people of color, they fit the theme by celebrating progression in an industry that once barred people of color from being seen.
Even though the theme was American fashion, there was a large absence of American fashion brands and designers. Some looks that caused quite a stir were Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga, Lil Nas X in Versace, Ciara in Dundas and Frank Ocean in Prada.
Kim Kardashian wore a head-to-toe all black ensemble that resembled a t-shirt dress and covered her entire head. Kim Kardasian is not shy to controversy, so when she showed up in a look that resembled a burqa or how many Muslim cover up for their faith, many thought the look seemed insensitive in today’s climate. Many were also confused on how her look corresponded with the gala’s theme. However, her silhouette was reminiscent of the 80s with puffy, long sleeves with skin tight stockings. Even with the opaque look covering Ms. Kardashian, everyone knew it was Kim Kardashian based on just her outline.
Ciara caused a love/hate debate wearing a sequined football jersey dress from Dundas. The look was inspired by Geoffrey Beene’s famous jersey dress but was altered to pay homage to her QB husband, Russel Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. The sequined gown was neon green, the color of the Seahawks, with two side cutouts for a modern twist. Ciara topped off her look with a rhinestone football clutch and her husband’s Super Bowl ring. Hate it or love it, Ciara understood the assignment.
When it came to Met Gala regulars, Rihanna was accompanied by A$AP Rocky, wearing Balenciaga Couture. Honestly, Rihanna can do no wrong when it comes to fashion, but her look was questionable when it come to the theme. In relation to Balenciaga’s past, Rihanna’s look was very reminiscent of Cristobal Balenciaga’s past extravagant gowns that were all about draping and volume, specifically his black taffeta cocktail dress. However, Balenciaga was a Spanish designer and the house is currently based in Paris, so I think the theme was lost in translation.
Even though many of the celebrities came to gala with no thought about American fashion in mind, there were some really great looks that hit every point.
Model Quannah Chasinghorse of Indigenous heritage wore a metallic Dundas dress, adorned with turquoise jewelry from her personal collection. Helen Lasichanh and Pharrell Williams wore matching leather Chanel sets that fit the western style. They completed the look with gold toed boots and bolo ties. Billie Eilish wore a nude, tulle covered ballgown by Oscar de la Renta, resembling Marilyn Monroe and Barbie. Lupita Nyong’o was taking us back to the early 2000s in her bedazzled denim dress by Versace. Kendall Jenner stole the show in Givenchy with her My Fair Lady inspired gown. Grimes stepped out in a futuristic look resembling Dune by Iris Van Herpen. She accessories the look with a giant sword made from an AR-15. Was this a commentary on gun control in America?
Zac Posen carries the Met Gala every single year and this year was no different. Paloma Elsesser wore a red floor length gown by Zac Posen with reference to historical silhouettes and old Hollywood glam. Debbie Harry also wore Zac Posenin a hoop skirt decorated in stripes of red and white to pay homage to Betsy Ross. The top was made of repurposed jeans and screamed America.
The Met Gala is a night for regular people to sit back and watch the madness but this year felt needed after the past two years we’ve had. From the words of Timothy Chalemet, “It’s a big honor… Trying to keep it respectful of the two years all of us just had, and not get two lost in the glamour of it because a lot of people are suffering.”