I’ve never been one for paying particular attention to fashion events. This is for two reasons. One, I don’t normally notice what people are wearing unless it is particularly glittery, and two, I am very much not qualified to place judgment on others for what they wear. My current go-to outfit consists of gym shorts (that rarely see the gym), a sports bra (that never sees sports), and a comfortable t-shirt of some sort. I feel that unless I am also willing and able to put in a similar amount of skill/effort in terms of my “look,” I don’t really have the right to complain.
That being said, there was something about the 2021 Met Gala that caught my attention. Honestly, it might have been the fact that I was doing my best to procrastinate on homework, but the looks that I ended up seeing were very interesting. I only became aware of the theme, “American Independence,” several hours after watching the event. This explained some of the fashion choices and did absolutely nothing to provide context for some others. Regardless, there are a ton to sort through and although I wouldn’t label my small list of note-worthy looks as the only highlights, feel free to use this as the SparkNotes version of Met Gala 2021.
- Lil Nas X
I feel that this set of outfits could technically be split into three different points on this list, as Lil Nas X slowly shed layers throughout the event. Starting off with a voluminous set of gold robes/strange coat thing, he looked a bit to me like a very wealthy marshmallow. He then removed this upper portion to reveal a set of armor that has inspired many memes comparing him to the red carpet equivalent of C3PO. And finally, from there, he went onto my personal favorite, a fitted gold jumpsuit that would probably look stupid on anyone else. If nothing else, the fact that he can pull off what is essentially an extra bedazzled Olympic ice skating uniform is impressive in and of itself. I might not have been the biggest fan of the first two looks (even though I do like Star Wars), but the glitter and perfectly formed human being in the suit made it a positive for me.
- Billie Eilish
This one definitely made more sense to me after I learned of the American Independence theme. Marilyn Monroe is quintessential American Sweetheart and Billie managed to capture her vibes immaculately, making it one of my favorite looks to come out of the Met Gala. One of the reasons for this (beyond the fact that she looks absolutely stunning) is that it is so vastly different from how Billie Elish usually presents herself. In fact, there was a brief period of time that I didn’t even recognize her strutting down the red carpet. Her makeup and hair are just so outside her norm and I think that shock value made it all the more exciting. The skirt is also giant and I found myself both slightly anxious that she would trip on her way up the stairs and impressed that she somehow remained standing for the entire event (to my knowledge).
- Quannah Chasinghorse
Originally, this look caught my attention because of its sharp angular lines, reflective material, and beautiful design. Quannah Chasinghorse, the 19-year-old Indigenous model of Oglala Lakota origin pulled off this highly reflective material in a way that my 21-year-old self would never have the confidence to do. The look itself is very distinct as the Native model paid tribute to her Indigenous American culture by wearing a Navajo turquoise necklace and showcasing her traditional tattoos. As an activist, Chasinghorse claimed that “it’s 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. Among the stars and stripes, cowboys, and horses, this look stood out as a meaningful and much-needed representation of Indigenous culture.
- J Lo
Yes, I know that at some point in this list I down-talked cowboys a bit. However, there is no denying that Jennifer Lopez’s steampunk-inspired western look was very eye-catching. I’m still not completely sure as to how she is 52 years old, as she still presents to me as mid-’30s. Seeing her strut down the red carpet, part of me wondered if I was more a fan of her or the outfit. Regardless, the asymmetrical skirt, gaping neckline and steampunkesque jewelry still stood out both as being on theme as well as making for some serious western-inspired eye candy.
- Kim K
The number of memes I’ve seen involving this look thus far have been pretty insane. Initially, I think I had the same reaction as everybody else when viewing Kim Kardashian strut down the red carpet looking like a dramatic shadow in very pointy heels. “What and why?” Surprisingly though, the look has actually grown on me. As much as she is absolutely covered from head to toe, her high ponytail, distinctive walk, and iconic curves, she still remains very much recognizable as the iconic Kim K. For being a largely featureless outfit, it still managed to stand out against its bedazzled and attention capturing counterparts that were worn by other celebrities. As with many other things Kim K has done and is doing, I believe there’s a huge amount of intention behind it all. At this point, with her having been in the spotlight for so long, she knows exactly what gets the public’s/media’s attention. Capitalizing on this fact, her outfit received a huge amount of media coverage. It doesn’t really matter if half of this attention is from Reddit users mocking her or actual fashion designers, she still stands out.
There’s no doubt that she looks weird, but it reminds me of performance art almost more than actual fashion. I feel that is warranted for the Met Gala and is worthy of respect. That being said, I still have no idea how it fits into the theme of “American Independence”. Regardless of whether you paid attention to Kim Kardashian’s Met Gala appearance because you genuinely enjoyed her outfit or because you found her reminiscent of the Dementors from Harry Potter, the fact is that you still did pay attention.
This list is quite literally the first few looks that stuck out to me. There are so many that have deeper meanings and beautiful designs that I have not included. If nothing else, I’m hoping this shortlist can serve as a stepping stone for those who are curious and wish to further pursue some interesting fashion. I wish my reasonings for why I was such a fan of the majority of these looks goes beyond “they’re pretty” but as stated in the title of this article, I truly am not at all qualified to judge the fashion of others. I enjoyed my brief viewing of the Met Gala and the beautiful famous people that came with it. Whether they were parading around in their American-themed finest or unintentionally turning themselves into the living embodiment of memes, this 2021 event will most likely go down in fashion history.