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The Good, Bad, and Gray of the 2021 Met Gala

If you’ve glanced at any social media in the last week, you are aware one of fashion’s biggest nights, the Met Gala, was held on Monday evening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event is normally held on the first Monday in May, but was cancelled and then postponed due to Covid-19. 

On this year’s committee sat some of Gen Z’s best, Poet Amanda Gormon, tennis star Naomi Osaka, Timothée Chalamet, and Billie Eilish. This year America’s top celebrities were tasked with styling around the idea of American Independence, paying homage to the Costume Institute’s newest two-part exhibit, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, and In America: An Anthology of Fashion.

Let’s start with the worst. Maybe that’s harsh but if we’re being honest there were some bad looks. Kim Kardashian, for example. Whoever decided that a head-to-toe Balenciaga morph suit was a good idea should be fired immediately. At first glance, there is no clear connection to the dress code. Standing next to her sister Kendall’s sparkling silver  gown, Kardashian quite literally was in the shadows, it seemed. Upon further explanation, Kardashian revealed in a tweet “What’s more American than a T-shirt?” If the concept was to play on the very American T-shirt and Jeans combo, there are about a million better ways that could have been done. It was so clear that Kardashian and her team were more focused on creating a publicity scene than actually dressing for the occasion. She couldn’t even see straight for god’s sake.

Next up on the worst dressed list is Representative Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. Love the person, not the clothes. Everything about it was just bothersome. From the front, the custom Brother Vellies dress bordered more on bridal than couture. To put it simply, it was just bland. The real statement was the back, with “Tax the Rich” emblazoned in red. Generally, that’s a sentiment many would agree with, but not on the back of a near $30,000 ticket. Especially for someone who has expressed an understanding for the deeply rooted disparities in this country, this was in poor taste. AOC, we all know you can do better. 

Dan Levy’s Custom Jonathan Anderson ensemble lies more in the fashion gray area. Conceptually, this look was an innovative step in joining the worlds of high fashion and fine art. Anderson and Levy drew inspiration from the work of Artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz, and featured two of his most well known works titled Fuck You F-got Fucker (1984) and Untitled(One Day This Kid…)(1990-91). Wojnarowicz’s work confronted the loss and grief suffered during the AIDS epidemic, while also celebrating the love and beauty of the queer community. Levy gets full credit for effort, but the construction detracts from the meaning. There was just way too much going on here. The bodice features a lovely replica of the art, but the giant leg of mutton sleeves are distracting in the worst way. The intricacy of the hand embroidery and beading spoke to its own beauty, but it can hardly be seen behind the texture and explosion of color from the sleeves. Paired with a matching bottom and boot, this was simply a miss for Levy’s Met Gala debut.

At the risk of being alone in my opinion, Timothée Chalamet’s look was great. Not the best, but not as bad as the attention it’s gotten. There is definitely room for improvement, it deserves a little bit of defense. This was a creative play on the class all-white classic, especially for menswear which normally features darker colors. In that spirit, there was an opportunity for a pop of color missed here, instead paired with a basic black collar. This look read as a modern twist on the starched collars and thick neck wear seen on men in the early 20th century, but it fell a bit flat with the basic palette. I would have loved to see something bright and fun, something to match with a flare on the shoe. I love the idea of combining casual sneakers with formalwear, but the white converse just wasn’t it.  

Let’s move on to the looks we loved, starting with Lupita Nyong’o’s full denim look. This Atelier Versace look was successful in every way. The dress, the hair, the makeup, the jewelry, all of it worked together harmoniously to tell the story of time evolving, mixing the regality of the revolution era and modern denim. The softness of the navy blue beaded layers added a refreshing bit of glitter and contrasted perfectly with the structure of the denim paneling. This look could have gone south very quickly, like Britney and Justin circa 2001 bad, but this was the total opposite of that hot mess. Her styling team did an excellent job of complimenting the dress while allowing the dress to attest it’s own elegance. The hair styling was another strong point, the coiled, asymmetrical updo was avant-garde and bold, but not in a way that would take away from the overall look.

Billie Eillish’s spin on old Hollywood glamour paid a beautiful tribute to some of the most recognized women of the time, including Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Even Barbie herself. Her nude Oscar de Larenta ball gown is a stunning start to the singer’s blooming sense of style and taste, and could even be considered a nod to her most recent album cover for Happier Than Ever

My personal favorite this year? Nikki de Jager, or better known for her makeup videos as Nikki Tutorials. On Instagram she wrote “I knew I wanted to pay homage to a trans icon who was at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots… Marsha P. Johnson paved the way for so many of us, and I hope I made my community proud tonight.”, and that’s exactly what she did with this teal Couture gown by Edward Oudshoorn. De Jaeger’s overall look was not only beautiful, but also paid a deep tribute to someone who truly defines American independence. The centerpiece of the outfit was clearly the floral headpiece, similar to the one Johnson was famously photographed in. The flowers seemed to trickle down the tulle to meet at the mermaid style skirt. The ribbon decorated with Johnson’s famous “Pay it No Mind”, which she used to answer questions regarding her gender or sexuality, sealed the look’s place at the top of our best dressed list. 


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