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Alanna Martine Kilkeary / Her Campus

The Met Gala Newbies Are Gen Z’s Favorite Celebrities

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

The Met Gala, fashion’s biggest night, is back after skipping the 2020 gala due to COVID-19. This year’s theme was In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, and many of the guests were dressed to showcase the broad history of American fashion. But we aren’t here to discuss just fashion, we are here to talk about the people. 

The Met Gala hosts the world’s most famous, elite and accomplished celebrities, making it an exclusive social event. The list is allegedly handpicked by Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. Previous attendees include fashion icons Blake Lively, Harry Styles, Cher and Donatella Versace. This year, the Met Gala reported that the invite list was to be “more intimate.” That begs the question: why were many of the attendees first-timers, and why did TikTok stars like Addison Rae and Dixie D’Amelio walk the carpet?

All four of this year’s hosts were first time attendees. Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka—all under the age of 25—were dubbed hosts due to their accomplishments in the past year as well as their mold into this year’s theme: fashion made in the U.S.A. 

Actor Timothée Chalamet is notorious for styling himself, as well as being nearly every girl’s favorite white boy. His experimentation with fashion, both street style and carpet looks, have made its way on every major fashion platform as he has mastered the epitome of mixing traditional masculine and feminine fashion. Billie Eilish has made a name for herself by breaking the music industry, but also with her style. Known for wearing baggy clothes that hide her figure, she hit back at the haters in a Marilyn inspired gown that is the antithesis of her normal outfits. Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, writes to shed light on marginalization, feminism and race. Being an activist herself embodies the theme of this year’s Gala alone, but her Lady Liberty inspired look fits the theme to a T. And lastly, tennis star Naomi Osaka, who has been vocal about mental health after pulling out of the French Open, paid homage to her roots. Her Japanese and Haitian inspired outfit showed who she is as an American. 

An actor, a musician, a poet, an athlete. All four of the hosts are well respected universally in their field and in the fashion world. But what about other first timers? Let’s look at five other first time attendees of the 2021 Met Gala, how they were an influential part of the last eighteen months and how their gala looks show why they are now a true part of American fashion. 

Emma Chamberlain

Admit it. We’ve all spent hours watching the 20 year-old YouTube personality rant in her car, drink coffee and try on outfits. She is by far the most relatable young adult out there. She started out with making vlogs five years ago, to now winning Streamy awards, attending Paris and New York fashion week and starting her own podcast. There is no argument that the girl isn’t, well, a girlboss. She has worked with Louis Vuitton in the past, so teaming with them to bring her Met Gala look to life was no question. In an asymmetric gold studded gown, neon makeup and a flipped bob hair-do, the Youtube star was a flashback vision to the ‘60s. 

Lil Nas X

We all heard it, we all hated it, we all loved it. “Old Town Road” was the anthem of summer 2019 and that wasn’t the last time the world heard of Lil Nas X. The 22 year-old rapper is a force to be reckoned with within the music industry, and he is coming for the fashion one too. For his gala debut, he pulled a Gaga and wore three Versace outfits. His first outfit, a royal cloak, represented how he felt shielded from the industry as a budding star. His second look, a fiery set of golden armor (which was very C3PO-esque, IMO), represented how he built a shield around himself. Coming out of the closet, releasing new music, he has it all. The rapper’s last look was a bedazzled bodysuit which showed off his real and authentic personality. In terms of the theme, it was a tribute to Medieval fashion. 

Addison Rae

Ah, TikTok, the app that has us falling down rabbit holes at 2am. Many people, myself included, were shocked as to why Addison Rae was standing among people like Rihanna at the Met Gala. Her 84.4M followers on TikTok put that confusion to rest. It’s hard to argue that many people under the age of 25 don’t know who she is. Her Tom Ford gown was a reference to the confidence and sexiness a red dress makes women feel. Sure, she rose to fame quickly and her career path is questionable, but attending the gala caused a lot of talk by a younger audience. If that was the purpose of inviting her, well done Ms. Wintour. 

Olivia Rodrigo

The 18-year old “drivers license” singer stole the hearts and ears of every teenage girl (and honestly boy, adult and human) this past year. Everyone’s Spotify Wrapped is bound to have at least one Sour song on it. Known for her work in Bizaardvark and High School Musical: the Musical: the Series, the Olivia Rodrigo was one of many Gen Z attendees. Just a day after winning three VMAs, the singer stepped out in a YSL vintage inspired, black lace catsuit with feathers. She’s known for her punk rock style and this outfit was nothing less. Her bold earrings and shoes screamed ‘70s, and her outfit was a nod to Hollywood’s Jerry Hall. 

Pete Davidson

The Saturday Night Live star made his Met Gala debut. Known for his dark humor, Pete Davidson gained popularity when he infamously dated, got engaged and broke up with Ariana Grande. He is not the first comedian to attend the Met Gala—Amy Schumer, Trevor Noah and John Mulaney all stood in his shoes—but Pete is not someone you would expect to be at such an exclusive event. He himself thought his invitation was a joke! His gala look, a white and black tunic dress and blazer, was a complete 180 from his traditional street style of hooded sweatshirts and loud patterns. He even wore a necklace to honor his father who died during the attacks on 9/11, a quiet tribute to the 20th anniversary which was a few days prior. 

So there you have it, the controversy behind so many newcomers can be put to rest with a look into some of the 2021 Met Gala’s first timers. The Met Gala was one of the first big social events to happen after an eighteen months hiatus. To bring together all the celebrities who have made the past year and a half bearable in terms of entertainment, athletics and arts, every person on the invite list earned a spot. Whether they will be back again next year is a question only time can tell. 

Annabel Park

Rutgers '25

Annabel is a sophomore at Rutgers University majoring in Marketing and minoring in Health Administration. Besides writing, she enjoys baking, going to the gym, Harry Styles, and walking around NYC hoping to run into celebrities! IG: @annabelpark3