An all-american fashion disaster


Theresa Nguyen

Lili Reinhart bloomed in her light pink floral ensemble designed by Christian Siriano

The 2021 Met Gala was the star-studded fashion event of the year for celebrities, designers and fashion lovers around the world. The excitement for the gala was at an all-time high after the cancelation of the 2020 Met Gala, but this year’s outfits did not exactly meet the standards of fans and critics alike. 

Timotheé Chalamet, Naomi Osaka, Amanda Gorman and Billie Eilish co-chaired this year’s gala with the exhibit “America”: A Lexicon of Fashion, Which opened on Sept. 18 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and  inspired attendees’ looks. The exhibit spanned from the 1940s to present day, showcasing 100 looks for men and women that explore emotional qualities.  

The different interpretations of this year’s theme were well recognized by anyone who watched the gala. 

Some celebrities took a more All-American approach, such as Timotheé Chalamet wearing Haider Ackerman and high-top converse, and A$AP Rocky’s “All-American quilt” designed by Eli Russel Linnetz. 

Other celebs such as Billie Eilish in Oscar de la Renta and Halle Bailey in Rodarte looked to famous people from the past for inspiration. Eilish wore a white look inspired by the forever classic Marilyn Monroe, while Bailey, of the dynamic duo Chloe and Halle, showed up in a pink tasseled Tina Turner-inspired ensemble.

Pushing political and social agendas, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, aka AOC, shocked many in a white dress designed by Aurora James  with the words “Tax the Rich”, along with Cara Delevigne in a white corset that said “Peg The Patriarchy” in red lettering and white pants. Delevigne’s look was designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Frank Ocean and Grimes, both musical artists, wore outfits inspired by America’s technological advancement and futuristic nature. Ocean in Prada wore a black jacket and black pants, but the highlight of his outfit was him carrying a robotic green baby. Grimes, on the other hand, wore a flashy white and silver dress, designed by Iris Van Herpen and inspired by the Sci-Fi novel Dune, and carried a large silver sword. 

Halle Bailey’s glittering pink Tina Turner- Inspired dress. (Photo Courtesy of: Theresa Nguyen)

Many other celebrities wore looks that did not exactly fit into any category and instead, felt a little out of place at the gala. While there was no set interpretation of the theme, these outfits had no glaring connection. 

Artist Kid Cudi and Actress Lili Reinhart are perfect examples of this. While their outfits looked great by themselves, they had no obvious links to American style and culture. Reinhart, wearing Christian Siriano, had on a light pink cocktail dress with a long train covered in flowers, very different from Cudi who wore a fuzzy blue sweater and clear vinyl pants covered in graphic stickers designed by Ben Baller and KAWS. 

American fashion is a very broad category and a timeless topic, but when it comes to creating a cohesive theme, the category falls short. Since the gala did not cover a specific style or age of American fashion, the Met Gala failed to give celebrities and designers the ability to shine as one team among many pairs of designers and artists.

Some would argue that the theme this year did its job because American fashion is whatever is worn by the American people. The diversity between the outfits does somewhat represent the diversity in the U.S. as a country, but without a specific angle to the outfits, looking from one outfit to the next becomes messy and confusing.

With no defining era of fashion or piece of American culture to choose from, the Met Gala this year felt like one big period piece with a bunch of historical inaccuracies and fantasy elements. 

Hopefully next year will blow this one out of the water and audiences certainly can’t wait to see what comes next.