A review more exciting than the Met Gala itself

Isabella Parish

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Every year I watch the Met Gala and sit in my sweatshirt and biker shorts from Urban Outfitters. Then I rate the designer looks at an event that is 30,000 dollars for one ticket because I clearly know what I am talking about. This year was no exception, but I wasn’t the only one with an incredibly underwhelming outfit this year.  

The Met Gala is an annual event that is put on at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The event is normally held on the first Monday of May. Since there was no 2020 Gala, it was decided that on Monday, September 13, the Met would host the 2021 Gala.

This event is very exclusive and run by Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine. Celebrities are invited to attend by designers or companies. Once the designers and companies select their guest list it has to be approved by Wintour herself. 

While it may just seem like a night for everyone’s favorite and least favorite celebrities to play dress-up, The Met Gala is actually a fundraiser. The Met Gala is a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. In 1948 when the Costume Institute was newly founded the benefit started. This fundraiser is put on because the Costume Institute is the only one of the Metropolitan’s museum departments that funds itself. 

The theme for the 2021  Met Gala was American Independence which is a very broad theme.  It was paired with the first of the two part Costume Institute exhibition “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Next May when the 2022 Met Gala occurs the exhibit will be “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” and I can only assume the theme will be similar to the American Independence theme. The exhibit is supposed to represent varied cultural identities. If a celebrity wore an outfit created by an American designer or inspired by American style then they technically fit the theme. While many viewers were not happy with some of the outfits on the carpets, they did technically fit the broadly underwhelming theme. 

For designers it is common knowledge that following the theme is expected but it is not required. Viewers tend to be the most upset when the theme is not correctly executed, unless the outfit is somehow so good that they can ignore the theme. Wintour’s top looks are all theme based but that does not mean she kicks people out of the gala if they are not dressed to the theme. The Vogue Youtube channel uploaded a video where Wintour showcases all of her favorite looks on the Friday before this year’s Met.

Every year there are also co-chairs, and this year there were four people who served as co-chairs. The co-chairs help with the guest list, food, decor and the general feel of the evening. The co- chairs this year were Oscar-nominated actor Timothée Chalamet, Grammy-winning singer Billie Eilish, Japanese tennis champion Naomi Osaka and Biden inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. 

With COVID-19 still raging through New York, to attend the event,  guests had to be fully vaccinated and masks had to be worn inside except when eating or drinking. Masks were not required on the outdoor carpet. Some celebrities, such as Nicki Minaj, declined their invitations because of this stipulation. 

My personal rating system is based on the theme. Normally red carpets do not have themes so in my opinion following the theme for The Met Gala is crucial. Celebrities attending do not always feel the same way. For example, Justin and Hailey Bieber never fail to not take the theme into an account. Because of the vagueness of the theme, I will be judging outfits strictly if I like them and if I can loosely relate them back to the theme. 

This Met could’ve been an amazing time to make a statement or it could have been a time to celebrate American fashion, and designers did both. 

Here are my top five Met Gala looks in no particular order.

Hunter Schafer in Prada

Hunter Schafer’s futuristic look was a huge hit and definitely a standout. The look seemed to be inspired by Schafer’s show Euphoria. I think this look showcased how virtual and online the past year has been, with the color tones and the overall vibe, she killed it.

Lupita Nyong’o in Versace

What is more American than denim? Literally nothing. In this beautiful denim dress Nyong’o’s look encapsulated American fashion in the classiest way possible. This dress style was inspired by models in the 90s and the denim with a thought out placement of diamonds looked incredible. 

Gabrielle Union in Iris van Herpen 

Gabrielle Union was one of my favorite on theme looks of the night. She said her dress encapsulated change because with every move she made the dress moved as well. Which I believe represents American fashion rather well. The dress was not traditional but it was created in such a stunning way and it fit the theme beautifully.

Anok Yai in Oscar de la Renta

Arguably my favorite look of the entire night. Yai was on the September cover of Vogue and she stepped out at the Met and looked incredible. This dress encapsulates American fashion in so many ways. Old Hollywood is represented in her black feather shawl and all the jewels included on the dress. The dress itself had beautiful diamond beading. She looked incredible. 

Olivia Rodrigo in Saint Laurent

While Olivia Rodrigo may be a controversial choice I think she deserves a lot of credit for the look. Rodrigo is 18 and this is her first Met Gala. Her black lacy jumpsuit with a feathered top was in general a bold choice. Her not wearing a traditional dress silhouette is major for her first time.  She described the look as an homage to punk American music, which is so fitting for her. I love that she is a musician and tried to have her look represent herself and music that inspires her.

Overall this year’s Met Gala was very underwhelming after such a long break from fashion. From the perspective of the people behind the Met I cannot imagine the amount of pressure there was this year. Everyone was expecting a show stopping Met Gala so I am truly not surprised it did not live up to expectations. As a viewer I was simply excited to have this gala back in general.