That night in question is the Met Gala, a black-tie event held on the first Monday of May each year as a fundraiser and celebration for the Costume Institute and its fashion exhibition. Thanks to the pandemic, the event was put on hold last year and reinstated this month – hot on the heels of New York Fashion Week and a night after an electrifying MTV Video Music Awards.
This year’s showcase is titled In America: A Lexicon of Fashion and guests were encouraged to interpret the theme of ‘American independence’ in their getups to the gala.
The Valentino contingent with creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli (with shades).
So how did stars re-emerge for the fashion event of the year? Did guests still have the energy to dress up? Had the pandemic reassessed the way we view glamour?
For one, the guestlist was a melting pot of diversity. One couldn’t help but notice an underlying tone of celebrating black excellence that was reflected in the presence of Gala co-chair and tennis champ Naomi Osaka, Olympian Simone Biles and actresses like Michaela Coel, Lupita Nyong’o and Whoopi Goldberg among others.
Congresswomen Carolyn B Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, meanwhile, used the occasion as a platform to amplify their political agendas/messages.
AOC wore a Brother Vellies dress sprawled with ‘Tax the Rich’ across the back (though the Twitterverse was quick to point out the irony of the message at a fashion event). Maloney, on the other hand, was a walking billboard for the Equal Rights movement: she was decked out in a caped gown printed with the slogan ‘Equal rights for Women’.
Lil Nas X, who was dressed in Atelier Versace, told a “three-part LGBTQ+ American fairytale through his look” with an impromptu wardrobe reveal on the red carpet.
But unlike the usual fanfare and camp factor that has come to signify the Met Gala arrival, it was a safer and more clinical affair this year. The only time we held our breath was when Lil Nas X performed a three-part wardrobe reveal and we spotted Frank Ocean carrying a mechanical green baby on the red carpet.
Other than that, the ‘decadence of America’ and ‘old Hollywood glamour’ were the trite inspirations that most of the attendees quoted in their red carpet interviews when asked about their interpretations of the theme.
And anyone who was hoping that this year’s gala would be turned into an opportunity to spotlight the representation for more American labels and young designers may have been a little disappointed.
Demna Gvasalia (right) and Kim Kardashian.
Besides household names like Thom Browne, Zac Posen, Michael Kors, Coach, Altuzarra, et al, the stars were mostly decked out in looks by trusted European fashion houses and couturiers like Givenchy, Prada, Chanel, Versace and Valentino.
The biggest winner of the night, however, had to be French maison Balenciaga. The label kitted out at least five stars in its revived couture collection which marries old school Parisian couture codes with streetwear sensibilities (that’s pretty American, right?). Among them were Rihanna, Isabel Huppert, Tracee Ellis Ross and Michaela Coel.
Soaking it all in was the house’s Georgian – the country, not the southern US state – creative director Demna Gvasalia who arrived on the red carpet with Kim Kardashian. Both prefer to remain incognito behind their shrouded faces and head-to-toe black outfits – observing the action and chaos in the shadows.
Scroll on to peep what went down on the red carpet.