Met Gala 2021: Who shined and who missed the mark

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Getty Images For The Met Museum/

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG21/Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue)

Talya Pecullan and Leah Schachter, Staff Writers

On Sept. 13, the Met Gala returned for its 75th anniversary after being postponed since last year.  Hollywood’s most famous celebrities gathered to celebrate fashion’s biggest night out.  The Met Gala usually takes place in May, but was moved to September and took place at the end of New York Fashion Week.  The theme this year was, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”, and each celebrity had a different take on it.

A lot of celebrities chose to reference “old Hollywood” in their outfits, recreating memorable looks inspired by legendary actors and actresses.  Most notably, Billie Eilish, co-chair of the event, wore a peach-colored Oscar de la Renta ball gown which referenced Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and others.  Billie Eilish’s ball gown was starkly different from her usual style of baggy t-shirts and shorts, and even noted  that the dress was a “risky” choice.  Beyond the beauty of the gown, Billie Eilish had another reason for wearing Oscar de la Renta.  Before agreeing to let them design her Met Gala dress, she had convinced them to stop using animal fur in their clothing. 

“I loved how Billie paid homage to Marylin Monroe as she became an icon towards American fashion,” said senior Olivia Kerrane. 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was also in attendance at the Met Gala, wearing a highly controversial dress.  Like many other celebrities, AOC chose to make a statement on American politics with her outfit, a white dress with the words “Tax the Rich” across the back.  Her outfit drew much criticism; people argued that it is hypocritical to wear that dress while being at an upper-class, elitist, social event ($35,000 a seat).  Opposition to her dress, its “hypocritical” message, and AOC’s attendance to the Met Gala came pouring in from both the left and the right. A conservative group, The Conservative American Accountability Foundation, filed an ethics complaint shortly after the gala. 

“I think that AOC’s dress was kind of hypocritical, especially because she wore it at a crazy expensive event, and being there makes her one of the rich. It has a powerful statement and gained a lot of attention because of the event, but overall, I think her making that statement could have had a better execution,” said senior Kayla Caplin. 

While some celebrities tried to make a political statement with their outfits and nods to different eras in American history, there were some Met Gala outfits with little connection to the theme, such as Kim Kardashian’s all-black outfit by Balenciaga.  Some fan favorites of the evening were Amanda Gorman in Vera Wang, Lil Nas X in Versace, and Kendall Jenner in Givenchy.

“I think that some very clearly followed the theme, but some of them were just random, but I think the Met Gala’s theme is very fluid in general”, said senior Olivia Platt.

The theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”, was created by Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in charge of the Costume Institute, and he had his own idea of what the theme was meant to represent.  He believed that the theme of “America” would have American designers such as Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger rethink what America means to the guests of the gala due to all the social change we’ve seen over the  past year and a half.  Each of the guests had a different view of what America means to them, and this year they expressed it through their fashion.