Wednesday, September 15, 2021


I don't know when the Met Gala (the annual fundraising effort for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute) became such a thing. I've been aware of it for years, having since youth been a fan of Fashion and reader of such thick fashion and lifestyle magazines as Vogue and W and Vanity Fair, and seen the annual event covered since it was started by Vogue editor Anna Wintour in 1996; the reporting was always featured in the front-of-issue "parties around town" segments, and showed fairly epic gowns on New York socialites and the more fashion-conscious Hollywood stars, exclusively covered by the fashion press; but sometime in the last three or five years it's become this huge media explosion of fabulous productions reported on by all the celebrity news organs as well as the major news agencies on top of the fashion press. I daresay it's a rival to the Oscars' red carpet in terms of grandeur and status in the Red Carpet hierarchy. I have a feeling it's something to do with Twitter, but it's more likely the Metropolitan Museum shifting its chairmanship and invitation list to boost awareness and donations. 

At any rate, it's this big Thing now, with celebrities of every stripe and degree flocking down its red carpet (which isn't always red, this year it's ivory), many of them making huge production-number entrances with multiple looks layered on that they shed with the assistance of little flocks of tuxedoed handlers as they make their way down what appears to be a mile or so of press-lined concourse. And I've enjoyed it immensely, especially since the themes for the last two years really resonated with me aesthetically (2020: “About Time: Fashion and Duration”; 2019: “Camp: Notes on Fashion”) and featured a whole lot of beautiful men in outrageous clothes... the 2019 Camp theme turned everyone into drag queens for the night and I just adored it. 

So this year the Met Gala (which is usually done in May but was delayed this year by renovations to the Anna Wintour Costume Center wing, itself delayed by the Covid) started filling up my Twitter feed on Monday evening as the PR teams of my particular pet celebrities live-tweeted their appearances and were disseminated by multiple stan accounts, pushing the porn boys and cat videos out of the spotlight. Then all day Tuesday was just a flood of images, and me investigating the images, and wondering what in the world the theme was as I looked at the pictures without reading the accompanying text beyond  the names of the persons pictured (most of whom I did not recognize), but enjoying many of the looks and 'fits on display. And then I got to talking about it with my internet-buddy-pal Gabby as we perused the Vogue Online gallery together and dished the couture. 

A lot of my thoughts centered on the theme, which was American Independence, as the title of this year's Met Costume Institute show is called "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion"; so a lot of my filter is based on how each outfit reflected the theme (or didn't, as is the case in most of these). The New Yorker reported that despite the American Independence theme, or perhaps because of it, the majority of the outfits on the carpet were from European designers, which I find hilarious. And I really was left scratching my head trying to figure out what people were trying to say about the theme with their outfits, many of which were merely glamorous and didn't suggest anything at all. Maybe that was their statement, that America is all style and no content, I don't know.

This was the outfit that got me wondering what the theme actually was, as I'd noticed a few red-white-and-blue things, some denim fantasias, and star-spangled gowns but didn't make the connection. Debbie Harry looks pretty damned fierce, here, in a Zac Posen creation and escorted by Zac Posen (who's wearing Tom Ford, which I find amusing somehow).

I was thrown off the theme by an inordinate number of yellow outfits, some in rather difficult shades though others I suppose were meant to be gold (of which there was a whole lot, I guess people associate America with gold). Here we see American singer Normani (former X Factor contestant and member of Fifth Harmony) in Valentino, British actor and dreamboat Dominic Cooper in uncredited designers presumably from his own closet, Maria Sharapova in Gabriela Hearst, German-American actress/model Diane Kruger in Prabal Gurung, and Scottish actress Rose Leslie in Oscar de la Renta with her met-on-set-of-GoT husband Kit Harington in bespoke Saint Laurent... Rose's yellow hurts my eyes but it really complements her skin tone.  

A lot of the red-carpeters took advantage of the really wide concourse and dramatic stairs to wear things with massive trains. Here is singer Billie Eilish looking wildly uncharacteristic in Oscar de la Renta and Marilyn Monroe coiffure, as if trying to pull off Lady GaGa's Pygmalion routine from a couple years back (I later learned that she was paying homage to Hollywood in general and Marilyn Monroe in particular as American icons). She was one of the co-chairs of this year's gala... I don't know what a co-chair for the Met Gala does, exactly, but it's certainly a good reason to dress up nice.

Mah Timmeh! Le swoon, le sigh, le melt... I love this boy to the point of obsession though not to the point of seeing all his movies... or even any of his movies (I've only seen Call Me By Your Name; I am not averse to seeing his other films, I just haven't got around to it yet) though he is the wallpaper on my phone and was my desktop wallpaper until recently. Fresh from flogging Dune in Venice, he appeared at the Met Gala (of which he is another co-chair) and a bunch of other media in this very snappy turnout by Haider Ackermann featuring sweatpants and vintage Converse chucks with Cartier jewels.

Another of my obsessions, pop singer and actor Troye Sivan, whom I've been following since his Golden Age of YouTube vlogging days, and have immensely enjoyed his development from an adorably gawky but impossibly pretty boy into a deeply sexy and impossibly pretty young man. I only wish I liked his music better, it's just not my style... kind of vapid, to tell the truth. Which also goes for this outfit, it looks like something you'd get at Macy's during prom season, and though he looks fantastic, I was a little disappointed in this ALTU dress and Cartier necklace.  

Now this one made a real statement and was absolutely breathtaking. I don't know if that image of cotton fields (Danny Lyon "The Cotton Pickers, Texas" 1968) is part of the Met installation or if the photo was done beforehand to show the outfit's inspiration and tribute, but this is Broadway and Hollywood actor Jeremy Pope in a gorgeous and politically charged ensemble by Australian designer Dion Lee with a cotton-sack train by James Flemons and cotton-boll boutonniere by Denim Tears. The tied-off pants legs are kind of off-putting but are true to the inspiration of the outfit.

Lil Nas-X was one of the few who did the full three-layer entrance production, which was a lot more popular last year and the year before that. No idea what it has to do with American Independence, but it's cute, from Versace, and suits him very well. Another one where I wish I liked his music better, but hip-hop is not really my jam.

I about choked on my own drool at this shot of Shawn Mendes in uncredited designers (later found out it was Michael Kors), one of the most beautiful boys on the pop charts, and I even almost like his music. It has some texture, anyway. What his lady-friend is got up as, I don't know, but I didn't really see her in the picture at first (Cinderella actress Camila Cabello in Michael Kors).

Comedian Pete Davidson in Thom Browne... he's just adorable. And on a side note, there were a lot of black-and-white ensembles on this carpet. I'm curious how that relates to American Independence, but whatever the rationale, I like it. 

Comedian Dan Levy looking very uncomfortable in a weird but somehow attractive outfit by Loewe.

Like many of the people in this list, I have never seen or heard of this guy before, but he's cute and I like his outfit (Colombian singer-songwriter heartthrob Maluma in Versace).

Elliot Page looks thirty years younger than Ellen did, and utterly adorable. Balenciaga suit, green rose a tribute to Oscar Wilde.

Now a lot of the gowns I saw as I scrolled through the Vogue online gallery just made me gasp and say "absolutely majestic!" and so I bundled them all together.  Here we have famous person Kendall Jenner in Givenchy, actress Emily Blunt in Miu Miu, fashion models Taylor Hill in Versace and Anok Yai in Oscar de la Renta, Pose actress Mj Rodriguez in Thom Browne, and David Bowie's widow and legendary fashion model Iman in Dolce & Gabanna by Harris Reed.


Also of note were some pretty spectacular plus-size gowns on the carpet: Dutch makeup artist and vlogger Nikkie de Jager in Edwin Oudshoorn gown paying tribute to Stonewall icon Marsha P Johnson; fashion model Paloma Elesser in Zac Posen, and Euphoria actress Barbie Ferreira in Jonathan Simkhai.


... as well as some not-very-spectacular ones. I don't know what the designer was trying to achieve here with the sculpted hips and painfully squashed bosom, but I don't like it. Fashion model Precious Lee in Area.

Some more things I didn't like...Claire Danes in a Prabal Gurung that looks like she's wearing a tablecloth. It just doesn't look well-made, it doesn't hang nicely, and the fabric looks cheap though it probably cost hundreds a yard. 

Gillian Anderson is one of my favorite actresses, one of the most beautiful women on the planet, but this dress from Chloé bothers me. The cutouts on the side, or is it a sort of halter-back effect, are really poorly fitted, and the proportions make her look short and weirdly big-headed.

Maisie Williams in Reuben Selby looks like a squashed Christina Ricci. There's nothing wrong with being short, but dresses that make you look shorter than you are, and stumpy to boot, ought to be avoided. Again with a sculpted peplum, which really doesn't look good on anyone, along with the chunky heels and that train like the tongue of an old sneaker... what's even going on here?

This dress actually offends me, to the point of nausea. It's kind of clever, the juxtaposition of flour-sack cotton and black latex in this sort of Holly Hobby farmgirl fantasy is interesting, but in execution it just looks droopy and uncomfortable. English actress Rebecca Hall looks so sad wearing this Batsheva gown.

Here are some weird but oddly appealing looks that I didn't like at first but grew on me after I really looked at them. Fashion journalist Amy Fine Collins in Thom Browne (but is that a French flag sticker on her deltoid? Why?), German singer Kim Petras in Collina Strada, New Zealand musician Lorde in Bode (it would probably look better with a higher, pointier shoe), Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong'o in an all-too-American denim fantasia from Versace, and Bring It On actress Gabrielle Union in Iris van Herpen (aside from the Little Mermaid feel to this dress, I am impressed by how long it must've taken to glue all those little plastic circles together).


Anyway, that's a lot to chew on for now.  Go check out the other galleries of images, or throw #MetGala2021 into your Twitter, and see what I missed or skipped because I got tired (or check out this kid on YouTube who displays questionable aesthetic sense but has a lot of information about the individual looks Haute le Mode).

This post counts as two, since I didn't write yesterday like I intended but spent a lot of time thinking about writing this article, and a lot of today writing it and looking up who all these people are and what they're wearing when it wasn't listed. So until tomorrow...

À bientôt!

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