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A Met Gala review - by a fashion ignorant

There is something fascinating about celebrities. The glamour, the tabloids, the gossip, the hairstyles, the gowns; it is captivating, it is artsy, and it is very, very, compelling. Even those people (I’m sure you know someone like this) who condemn Hollywood culture and like to proclaim how much the entertainment industry is broken, insane, and unfair (which, don’t get me wrong, it is), there is always a bit of cheating in that moral code. After all, who can resist clicking an article (with a clickbait title, might I add) that describes a singer’s new relationship, or a leaked picture of a high-status oncoming movie, or even a Harry Styles clothes review? And I’m not trying to call anyone out, but the truth is that our curiosity just gets the best of us, mere mortals, who love to feel included (even if just a little bit) in the socialite fairytale.

The Met Gala is the culmination of this generalized cultural fascination. This highly anticipated event, that traditionally takes place on the first Monday of May (2021 is not being a traditional year in any way so far, and it was held on September 13th) started its illustrious history in 1948, and since then has become a fundamental part of the fame universe. While the main goal of “fashion’s biggest night out” is to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC’s Costume Institute, it has long become, in the eyes of the public, all about fashion. The Met Gala is when the most luxurious and renowned brands in the world - Gucci, Versace, and Chanel, to name a few - have the red carpet opportunity of the year to display their most extravagant collections and pieces, worn by none other than the world’s prettiest and most renowned people of their time. Recurrent attendees include Beyoncé, Rihanna, the Kardashian-Jenner clan, and the Haddid sisters, as well as a huge variety of athletes, actors and actresses, business owners, and designers. The Met Gala is an opportunity to associate brands with individuals that the public knows and love, and essentially dictate the direction fashion trends will take in the following months.

The guest list, which usually ranges from 550 to 600 people, is cautiously crafted to encompass each year’s most important and influential people, ranging from models and actors to designers and business owners, as well as this year’s new category, TikTok stars. Anna Wintour, iconic name in the fashion world and Vogue’s editor-in-chief, then, has to approve each and every guest and their outfits- so, if a person receives an invitation, it does not mean that they can attend. Also, Wintour picks a theme that dictates everything in that year’s Met Gala, and is usually the inspiration behind every piece - hypothetically, of course, because sometimes people like me, fashion ignorants, often can't find any connection between the theme and the unimaginably complicated outfits celebrities wear.

Then, 2021 arrives. After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the expectations for this year were very high - so high that even I heard of the Met Gala, someone who has no involvement and little knowledge about the fashion industry. The theme picked was In America: An Anthology of Fashion, which means that designs should focus on the story and praise of American fashion - a considerably easier one when compared to others that have been done (amazingly) in recent years, such as the 2018 “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. What is a person supposed to do with that? Anyway, after a fall of 93% in the industry’s sales in 2020, designers were presented with an opportunity to innovate and start the gradual recovery of the fashion sector, and despite a shockingly amount of very famous people not attending - Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Harry Styles, and Dua Lipa, to name a few -, there were a lot of rising stars and new opportunities. However, this year’s Met Gala seemed to be… disappointing? Although there were some stunning gowns, there were many instances in which I could not see any relationship between the theme and the clothes (most likely more my fault than the designers’), and many things were just over-the-top and unpleasant to look at. Now, you might be wondering what authority I have to be expressing these criticisms, and the answer is none. As I have already stated, I understand very little about fashion, but I thought it would be interesting to show the perspective of a common person about an event that intends to show us how celebrity life is. And for the looks of it, it has been better.

So, without further ado, here are 5 of the most extravagant, luxurious, and intriguing Met Gala 2021 looks - for better or worse.


1. Billie Eilish, in Oscar de la Renta.

I love this dress so much. It is a clear reference to Marylin Monroe at the height of Hollywood glamour, in the 1950s and 1960s, and it is just classically gorgeous. The tail, the tule, the fabric, it all seems very light and almost dream-like, and Billie’s hair is a perfect addition to this look. The only thing that I thought was a bit strange was the color of the dress, because it is very close to her skin tone, so it kind of mingles with it, but if it were a slightly different tone, it would have been perfect. I give it 4,5 starts.




2. Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga.

This specific look has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, and the impression I have is that critics either love it or hate it. I neither love it nor hate it because I simply don't understand it. Kim Kardashian has not explained what this look was supposed to represent, and, as we did not get an explanation, it just becomes completely pointless. I like the two “tails” coming out of her suit, almost like an extension of her shoes, but again, it is not giving me much because I don’t know what it is supposed to say. Her goal might have been to do something different and give us, the audience, this space for speculation and intrigue, but this outfit didn’t even give us a slight hint to start doing that. Because of that, I give it 2,5 starts.



3. Frank Ocean in Prada. (Sir, are you okay?)

This is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen at the Met Gala. And, just in case anyone is wondering, this baby doll is a robot, and it waved to the crowd. Imagine being at the Met Gala and seeing a smiley green baby waving at you. I would have had a full-on freak out. Now, to the look itself: very simple construction, with the two piece black suit in some sort of velvet fabric and the white t-shirt - nothing very notable to talk about, if I’m being honest. And, although I do like two out of the three accessories (the Dream Works hat and the necklace), the third one really stands out. I can’t fathom any connection to the theme whatsoever, and I think that it was not the goal at all. The goal was to shock us. And it sure did. This is confusing, and kind of creepy, for the lack of a better word. I give it 1.5 starts. Sorry, Frank Ocean.


4. Lorde in Bode.

Ladies and gentlemen, Lorde has done it again! Her look, referencing the Statue of Liberty, has a simple beauty that I can’t quite put into words: the flowers embroidered, the details of her “crown”, the way the gown fits her so perfectly… The thing that struck me the most is the fact that the look itself is, at the same time, composed and reserved and a bit edgy, the perfect balance. It looks impeccable on her! I even like this thing (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better word) she is holding, because it seems to complement the look even further. I love it so much that I don’t really have anything else to say. Easy 5 starts!





5. Dan Levy in Loewe and Cartier.

Dan Levy’s outfit has layers - both literally and figuratively. The look itself involves a lot of puff, colors, and different elements adding to it: there is embroidery, beading in the shoes, the sleeves… The inspirations of this look were AIDS activist and American artist David Wojnarowicz’s work, which shed light on the LGBTQ+ community in the 1990s, often criticizing how society views and treats them in consequence. I love the way Levy “politicized” his look: it shows that fashion, even in entertainment, can have the potential to impact people and transmit a message (Cara Delevigne and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did this too). The outfit itself is a lot to look at, and not necessarily in a good way. I love the colors and the trousers, but the combination of everything just looks a little bit off to me. I give it 3.75 stars.


Sources:

Metmuseum.org, www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/2020/met-gala-costume-institute-benefit-brief-history.

Brookins, Laurie. “Met Gala 2021: The Best and Most Outrageous Looks.” The Hollywood Reporter, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Sept. 2021, www.hollywoodreporter.com/lifestyle/style/met-gala-2021-best-outrageous-looks-1235013093/.

Cary, Alice. “Every American Icon Referenced on the Met Gala Red Carpet.” Vogue, Vogue, 15 Sept. 2021, www.vogue.com/article/met-gala-2021-every-american-icon-referenced-on-the-red-carpet.

Danziger, Pamela N. “2020 Was The Year Fashion Almost Died. Here's How To Bring It Back To Life In 2021.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Dec. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/pamdanziger/2021/12/27/2020-was-the-year-fashion-almost-died-heres-how-to-bring-it-back-to-life-in-2021/?sh=52981128fe29.

Devaney, Susan, et al. “Met Gala 2021: Everything You Need To Know.” British Vogue, 6 May 2019, www.vogue.co.uk/article/met-gala.