The Met Gala’s annual display of the rich and famous took place last week on September 13. The theme? “In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion,” hosted by actor Timothee Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman, musical phenomenon Billie Eilish, and tennis champion Naomi Osaka. This Met Gala was unique in that it took place in September instead of the usual May and was the first part of a two-part exhibition with the same theme.
With every past Met Gala, the theme has been a loose boundary which designers stayed within — or sometimes, dared to stray beyond — and this year was no exception. However, this year’s theme was so broad that there was little to no cohesion among the attendees — outfits ranged from classically cut suits to full-body-covering, monochrome outfits. Part of the beauty of America is it’s complex, “melting pot” range of diversity — a factor that so consistently contributes to its success. However, that very same open-ended freedom that defines this country is arguably what left so many designers directionless.
This year’s outfits were heavily influenced by “Golden Age of Hollywood” glamour. The colors were blatant references to the easiest possible thematic reference, the American flag, with red, white, and blue on many. There was Western flair, and star spangled everything.
As in previous years, the guest list was hand-selected by Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine since 1988. Those who make the cut are the rising stars of American culture. We saw social media influencers, young athletes, up-and-coming models, actors, musicians, and other celebrities. However, some missing from the event were many of the Met Gala regulars, such as Beyonce, Blake Lively, Lady Gaga, and Zendaya. It was clear the designers and guests opted for a more superficial interpretation of the theme: glorifying and celebrating America without much focus on the less glamorous side of the country.
The standout looks of this year’s Met Gala included Kendall Jenner’s breathtaking sheer crystal dress, designed by Givenchy and inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s ball gown in the 1964 film, My Fair Lady. Zoe Kravitz also chose shine and sheer, donning a sparkling Saint Laurent transparent dress. Lupita Nyong’o wore a beautifully structured denim gown by Versace, which paid homage to the brand’s signature 90’s look. Latin popstar Maluma’s bedazzled red leather fringe cowboy look nailed the theme. Lil Nas X stunned in an elaborate three-piece Versace outfit: a grand golden cape that transitioned into gold body armor, finishing with a glimmering crystal-covered jumpsuit. Although these ensembles stole the show, there were also several missteps in the fashion decisions at this year’s gala. Among those that fell short were Kim Petras’s hideous horse dress, Kacey Musgraves’s disappointing equestrian-inspired shirt and skirt, and Debbie Harry’s American flag hoop skirt. Ciara wore a confusing neon-green sequin football jersey-inspired gown, and Addison Rae’s boring red corset-inspired dress by Gucci had viewers everywhere yawning. Lastly, Camila Cabello wore a strikingly random purple sequin two piece dress.
Some celebrities used the platform to make a statement about prominent issues and recent resolutions in America. Notable mentions include Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s “Tax The Rich” dress, Cara Delevigne’s feminist message with her Dior “Peg The Patriarchy” breastplate, and Nikkie De Yager’s blue floral gown inspired by Marsha P. Johnson, an activist in the Stonewall Riots. Dan Levy wore a vivid, eye-catching JW Anderson and Loewe creation featuring art by David Wojnarovicz to celebrate queer ingenuity. While there were chances to create something subtle and moving, attendees didn’t all take advantage of these opportunities to make a statement about America. Outfits like these do nothing but perpetuate the extreme political divides we are currently experiencing, with ignorance of relevant issues in America. Blunt statements can often be powerful, but in this case, they were uninspired, when they could have been meaningful.