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Chaos and Disconnect in the Attire of the 2021 Met Gala

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 UTSA chapter.

What really was the theme and what was the point?

In the most realistic and simplest terms, the Met Gala is an extremely elaborate dress-up opportunity for celebrities. Or, one could say that it’s a walking art exhibit. In technical terms and the goal which the event strives to accomplish, it is an annual fundraiser for the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts in New York. Ultimately, the Met Gala brings awareness to the fashion industry by giving high fashion designers as well as up-and-coming designers the opportunity to show off the most extravagant pieces of their work and for it to be worn by some of the biggest celebrities.

Each Met Gala has a theme with which the designers and celebrities align their attire. The theme of the 2021 Met Gala was American Independence or “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion“. The idea behind this theme was to highlight American Fashion. Of course, one cannot talk about American fashion or American Independence without it in some way turning into or bringing up politics. When looking at most of the outfits from this elaborate night, it is very apparent that many celebrities or figures chose to take this exact opportunity to push a political message or agenda. While politics are definitely present in this event, and there’s no denying that fact, the point of this article is solely to analyze 5 of the looks from the designers and acknowledge the disconnect in the attire and the theme for the Gala. I am here to simply appreciate the intricate art that was highlighted September 13th in the world of fashion. With an American-themed Gala, I would have hoped and expected to see more red, white, and blue, however, this is simply not the case.

Let’s start with the youngest ever co-chair: Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish hit the red carpet in a massive blush-colored tulle gown which was inspired by her favorite Barbie doll. The childhood toy, the Barbie Doll was designed by American businesswoman, Ruth Handler in 1959. The massive gown which was designed by Oscar de la Renta featured an elaborate train and resembled that of 50s Hollywood glam. Billie’s hairstyle perfectly accompanied her look by replicating the iconic Marilyn Monroe hair: retro voluminous curls.

Here’s something to trigger your thoughts and opinions…A Dominican designer (Oscar de la Renta) designed a gown inspired by an iconic American actress…a little disconnect there, however, the brand itself is based in the United States, New York to be exact. It seems that the only connection between Billie Eilish’s attire and the American theme is simply that she chose an American doll and an American actress as her inspiration.

There’s no avoiding Lil nas x at this point

If I’m being completely honest, I did not want to talk about Lil Nas X’s attire, but there’s really no avoiding him. He hit the runway with three different looks. The first was an elaborate cloak designed by Versace. At first glance, this cloak resembles those worn by royalty and European kings. His second look was full golden armor resembling a traditional knight’s armor. The third was a fitted jumpsuit entirely bedazzled with rhinestones. Plain and simple, he was not at all concerned about the theme of the night. He seemed more concerned about highlighting himself in saying that each look has a deeper meaning and highlights different parts of his own career. When looking at his different looks, they truly are everywhere with no true connection to the theme. He definitely wowed the fans but his outfits were bizarre in their look and inspiration.

My Bare Lady : Kendall Jenner’s iconic Crystal Embellishment

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My personal favorite look of the night hit the red carpet worn by supermodel Kendall Jenner. She strutted in wearing a Haute Couture Givenchy gown that gave America’s loved actress Audrey Hepburn her highlight for the night. To show just how intricate this dress was, Haute Couture is exclusive high-end fashion pieces that are constructed entirely by hand from start to finish. Kendall’s gown pulled its inspiration straight from the gown Audrey wore in My Fair Lady (she even posted a video clip from the movie to her Instagram story right before hitting the red carpet to make the connection) but took a very feminine and bare twist. It is rather bare because she wore a stunning sheer nude gown that had the main centerpiece as a nude bodysuit to cover the necessities. Draped over the bodysuit was a form-fitted sheer top half of the dress with crystal tassels and as the gown progressed down it became flowier with extra length to graze the ground. Kendall’s neck was adorned with a thick banded crystal choker which directly replicated the crystal choker worn by Audrey herself. Rather than exactly copying Audrey’s original updo from the movie, Kendall chose to wear her hair in her classic middle part slick back bun to bring in her own individual take on it. As stunning as her gown was, there inevitably still seemed to be no real connection to the American theme when Hepburn herself was not even born in the United States. She was born in Belgium, and the designer Givenchy is a French-originated brand, still ceasing to really highlight any American designer.

The Cover-Up: Kim Kardashian’s silhouetted covering

Kim Kardashian decided to take the opposite approach of Lil Nas X and decided to be unseen, or so it seems. Kim took to covering every inch of her body in a Balenciaga silhouetted gown which featured leg coverings as well. She took the whole covering thing quite seriously when she even covered her entire face. Not a bit of her could be seen. You would think she wanted to be unnoticed, which is ironic when she had a 75 inch ponytail hair extension coming out the back of her attire piece. Some call her look a gown, but honestly, it reminded me of a morph suit with how much it was weirdly fitted to her body. So, what is the American message behind this? Absolutely nothing at all. The message behind it was to symbolize her recent split with Kayne.

Golden feathers: Iman’s golden Cage

Perhaps one of the most extravagant, intricate, and exotic looks from the night was Iman’s Golden feathered cage and matching headpiece. The core of her attire was a carefully crafted jumpsuit which was layered in an intricate gold leaf design. Gold leafing is typically a technique used in art and architecture where very thin layers of gold metal or pure gold are layered over parts of paintings or art dedications in buildings and architecture. It enhanced paintings and brought more depth and attention to them by giving them a very high class expensive look. Now picutre this technique applied to an outfit. Designer Harris Reed who partnered with Dolce & Gabbana stated that it took 400 hours of hand glueing and embellishing to pull off this center piece. One might even consider this look to fall under the Haute Couture category because of all the intensive hand crafting. If you think the jumpsuit portion of her outfit sounds like a lot to take in, we’re not done. The bottom portion of her outfit had a bird cage thrown over it as if it was meant to be the casing for the underneath of a huge ball gown, but she forgot to put the bottom skirt part over it. It was just the shell casing, but this was also very elaborate in that the whole frame was layered in golden feathers. When I saw this it reminded me of the scene from Disney’s Pocahontas when she’s getting dressed in her ball gown and walks out half dressed in her “underwear” and the same bird cage frame is what she was wearing. Iman’s bird cage was so enormous that she had to lift it when she walked along the carpet. Now if that sounds like a massive piece, let’s talk about her headpiece. Her hat was designed in collaboration with Vivienne Lake and resembled that of a golden monstrance. Her circular headpiece was adorned with matching golden feathers. This look couldn’t get any more iconic than having the designer Harris Reed escort Iman up the stairs of the museum in a matching yet slightly less extravagant ensemble. When asked about the inspiration for this look, Reed stated, “America is a country where anything is possible, so to be yourself, the most heightened, most radiant, most over-the-top version of that is truly what I aim for within my design work”.

So, is it coordinated chaos or pure disconnect to this year’s theme?

Now, consider the biggest names that stole the show that night and became all the rage and talk of the media. Did these big name celebrities really use this opportunity to truly bring attention to the theme of America, or were they more concerned with pushing their own names and having the attention on them? Of course, there is no way I could have touched on every single look of the night. Yes, some celebrities and designers did make a true effort to have a connection to a point or big moment in American history, but to me the most “iconic” ensembles seemed to be more driven on who could be more extravagant and have more attention drawn to them. What do you think?

Hey there! It's no doubt that a cup of iced coffee (or 3) and fun and stylish outfits make life a whole lot more fun since the coffee adds just a little extra excitement to the outfit picking process… or a little hyperness depending on how much caffeine you had! It's definitely no doubt that I love expressing myself through fashion and my daily outfits. It's a way I love to inspire others to be confident in how they want to present themselves each day. My love of coffee has definitely gotten me through to my junior year of college here at UTSA. I'm a Business Marketing Major, so connecting with other talented individuals is something I very much enjoy. Let's not forget the daily workout for our self-care time and a healthy meal to fuel our day! If you want to grab a cup of coffee (I'm probably already drinking mine) and stick around, I can't wait to connect with you more!