May 6, 2022 | OPINION | By Maddie Louise Mollerus | Illustration by Kira Schulist
This year’s Met Gala absolutely blew me away (dare I say it was one of the best?). The theme, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” gave us voluminous 19th-century dresses, dramatic hair, Old Hollywood beauty, and some people literally gilded in gold (hi, Cardi B). It was glittering, luxurious, opulent, and exactly what the Met Gala resembled pre-Covid.
The collective fashion world agreed that the last Met Gala, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” was just “eh,” if not disappointing. It seemed like celebrities and designers were trying to remember what it was like to wear things other than the pandemic uniform of sweatpants and hoodies (honestly, weren’t we all?). Given that this year’s theme was an extension of last year’s, I was expecting this year’s Met Gala to be the same level of underwhelming. But I was happy to be proven wrong.
The success of this year’s Met Gala lay in its dress code, “Gilded Glamour.” It was a study of New York’s Gilded Age, where extreme amounts of wealth were concentrated in the hands of the few, and the city was building its dazzling legacy. With a theme that already calls to mind iconic design and art, it was easy for designers and celebrities to be inspired. The theme of last year’s Gala, however, was less rousing. Attendees were instructed to follow a dress code of “American Independence.” The theme was followed either too literally (sequined American flag dresses) or not at all (Kim Kardashian’s black, hooded bodysuit). Essentially, last year’s red carpet was inharmonious.
Every worry I had about mistakes being repeated was banished when I saw Blake Lively’s Atelier Versace gown. She walked onto the red carpet in a copper-colored dress with art deco details, and a train with a giant bow. As she walked up the stairs, the bow was unraveled to reveal a longer, teal-colored train with copper streaks. In an interview, she revealed that her inspiration for the dress was New York architecture and the color of the Statue of Liberty as it oxidized. She understood the assignment.
The look that I can’t stop thinking about was Kim Kardashian’s outfit. The very last to arrive at the red carpet, she wore the famous dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy in 1965. Kim had even dyed her black hair platinum blonde to match. 1965 is a few decades after the Gilded Age, but the dress oozed elegance and allure with thousands of crystals. Whatever opinions you have on Kim, you can’t deny that this look was a showstopper.
There are so many looks that I loved that it was hard to narrow down the ones I want to talk about! Gigi Hadid’s giant, maroon, quilted coat and PVC corset combination served eye-catching drama. Olivia Rodigo’s lavender off-the-shoulder Versace dress and makeup was ethereal and on-theme but also maintained her “Y2K Princess” signature style. Bella Hadid’s gothic lace and leather harlequin look combined with her subtle makeup and 19th century hair resulted in a fresh take on the theme. Far away from the “High School Musical” look we were once familiar with, Vanessa Hutchins stunned in a black, sheer gown with puffy sleeves and strategically placed lace appliques. I loved the simplicity of Hailey Bieber’s white silk gown with a feather-rimmed oversized duster; it definitely evoked Old Hollywood glamour.
Personally, I like it when the Met Gala theme isn’t followed too literally. It’s not a costume ball, it’s a fundraiser in appreciation for fashion and designers. The Met is an opportunity for designers to go all out and tease the line between formal and avant garde; it would be boring if designers just re-designed what was worn in the 1890s.
I thought about critiquing a few outfits, but overall, the red carpet was everything I could’ve asked for. Yes, there were a few outfits that I didn’t like as much as others (*ahem* ripped jeans), but it’s not worth criticizing them. There was glitz, glamour, high fashion, and couture; I’m just happy to have the Met Gala back.