In the past decade, the Met Gala went from an event-of-the-year for those of us with Vogue subscriptions to a cultural firing range that turns everyone into an overnight fashion history scholar. Part of me loves it and part of me finds it a little overwhelming to see all of social media turn into the theme police.
That's my thing. 😆
In all seriousness, the Met Gala is an annual fundraiser for the Costume Institute in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and proceeds support preservation efforts, curation, staff and exhibitions. The themes are inspired by the featured exhibitions, and sometimes it feels like that key detail gets a little lost in translation. The exhibition is "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" and honestly, it's all over the place, which might explain why the past two galas have felt so frenetic.
This year's theme was "Gilded Glamour," which could be interpreted as:
- Riffs on the Gilded Age in America (bustles, corsets, ruffles, romantic updos, feathers, beads — more is more is more)
- Gilded, like literally gold or metallic
- Glamour, which is wiiiiiide open for interpretation and might explain why so many attendees just wore what they wanted to wear. It happens every single year and always has, and for the most part we give them low scores for lack of class participation.
Only Billie Eilish really delivered the full Sargent cosplay we may have been craving, looking ready to tend bar at the Folies Bergere in a Manet painting. Her eco-friendly Gucci dress was made entirely from existing materials, giving it a nice contemporary edge.
Very few attendees can match Sarah Jessica Parker for demonstrated, documented, thoughtful love of fashion history. Her looks are always intentional. She collaborated with designer Christopher John Rogers to create this beautiful homage giving due to Elizabeth Hobbes Keckley, a former slave who became the dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln. The design is modeled after a black-and-white gingham design of Keckley's — also a fitting nod to quintessential American fashion. Not one to shy away from drama, she topped the look with a custom hat by Phillip Treacy.
I've never been a Kim fan, and I think she has had an immeasurably bad impact on the psyche of women and girls and their relationships to their bodies. She managed to promote extremely harmful ideas of diet culture while talking about squeezing into Marilyn Monroe's iconic Jean Louis nude wiggle dress worn to sing JFK "Happy Birthday," which took away from the undeniable excitement of seeing our modern sexpot give it new life.
That said — the moment I saw it, I thought "No it couldn't be!" and "OMG it IS!" I had to acknowledge that it certainly fits the bill of gilded glamour. I also appreciate she took great pains as a steward to protect the dress, only wearing it for a few steps on the red carpet before changing into a replica. It was a great dose of drama, and I'm happy to see her happy after all the toxicity with Kanye lately.
You cannot convince me Jodie Turner-Smith and Joshua Jackson aren't the sexiest couple alive right now. They are just so undeniably hot together, and happy together, and it is evident everywhere they go. She channeled Josephine Baker's Jazz Age in Paris glamour in ballet pink chiffon trimmed in sparkles by Gucci. He served up debonair salt and pepper beard with tails. Hot hot hot!
Jessica Chastain looks equally ready for her close-up and ready to tell your fortune at the carnival in her ruby Gucci ensemble, and I'm here for it. Her glamour was pure 1930s surrealism with a shimmering snake winding its way in and out of her bodice and around her collar. A sequined turban is always a good idea.
Megan Thee Stallion has rarely missed since she's become a red carpet regular, and the gala was no exception. She's gilded! She looks like Icarus just barely making contact with the sun, but no one is expecting her to tumble back to Earth any time soon. She apparently told designer Jeremy Scott, "I want skin and I want gold ... I really, really, really, really want my moment on the stairs." Mission accomplished.
The best gala moments come with a magic combination of style, artistry, intellectualism and a healthy dose of chutzpah and Lizzo, in a gold-embroidered cape fit for the Metropolitan Opera, delivered. She whipped out her trusty flute and effortlessly played Debussey on the red carpet. That's flaunting Gilded Age knowledge, honey.
Michelle Yeoh looks like a regal queen in this upcycled green Prabal Gurung dress and spectacular Tasaki diamonds. I love the cape/train combo and the color is luminous. It feels like a great gown for just about any red carpet event, if not necessarily nailing the theme.
Alicia Keys somehow did an even more literal interpretation of gilded New York than Blake Lively, and her crystal NY skyline Ralph Lauren gown veered dangerously close to costume. You could imagine her popping out in this during a Miss America competition as Miss New York. I appreciate the effort, and it is pretty, but just a little too on the nose.
Janelle Monae is a slam dunk red carpet all-star, and I love how she has such a strong style brand — black and white, futuristic, having fun with shape and form. On any other night, at any other occasion, this would be my best dressed, but on this night, this Ralph Lauren felt like more of the same for her and not particularly the sartorial stretch I crave.
Sweet Nicola Coughlan, of Bridgerton and Derry Girls, got it! I love her puffed sleeve confection of a Richard Quinn gown, spewing a halo of feathers. I just feel like — and bear with me here — it actually still needs more sparkle? Have I lost my mind?
Gemma Chan looks like she stepped out of an Erte sketch of a Paul Poiret design, and while I imagine this dress felt decidedly not like "gilded glamour" to most folks, I smiled. It harkens to avant-garde Paris between the wars, when every boundary was pushed and glamour ruled the day, and I appreciated the daring use of panniers (the side hoops at the hips).
Kacey Musgraves' Prada dress of sequin fireworks is perfectly lovely and fit for a night at the opera, but the main savior of this look is the fan and the updo. Without it, this could be a dress for any event on any night.
Rachel Brosnahan and designer Joseph Altuzarra were like, "Gilded? Got it." Gold sequins are a sure bet, and I do love the train of exaggerated paillettes the size of saucers. I just can't shake the feeling this, like Alicia Keys' look, is a little too literal.
I gasped in delight when Austin Butler, on the cusp of serious fame for the upcoming "Elvis" biopic, smoldered up and down the red carpet not with his girlfriend Kaia Gerber, but with Priscilla Presley, looking very fine in basic black. A brilliant choice!
I have this fantasy that Shawn Mendes heard the theme and said to Tommy Hilfiger, "Give me Moby Dick couture. Call me Ishmael. That's the Gilded Age vibe we Canadians go for." Many have compared his look to Prince Charming, and listen with that jawline, he has me fooled.
I giggled in delighted surprise when I saw Sebastian Stan show up in this Valentino pink oversized lounge look. Is it on theme? Nah not really. Is it a real stretch for him that makes it feel like a sartorial turning point and makes me excited for his future? One hundred percent.
Bad Bunny wore a puffed-sleeve Burberry trench dress fit for a Looney Tunes character, and a beaded updo, and it somehow leaves me a little bit speechless, which is — for this one night of the year — a good thing.
Not sure I could have rolled my eyes harder when I saw Cara Delavigne interpreted "gilded glamour" as pasties and Goldfinger body paint.
I'm just as baffled as you are that, on Evan Mock, a Shakespearean collar paired with a *checks notes* corset-blazer and low-rise trousers is..........working for me? Maybe it's the signature lavender hair, maybe it's the sk8ter boi thumbs up pose, but I'm charmed by this Head of State effort.
Kodi Smit-McPhee heard gilded glamour and was like "fully serial killer, got it."
Very lovely gown on Phoebe Bridgers, apparently inspired by Keith Haring's body paint drawings on Grace Jones — a reference absolutely no one would get without explanation. This dress is as tasteful as every Armani dress Jodie Foster has ever worn and at the Met Gala, that's a fail.
Olivia Rodrigo's big Met Gala outing felt no different from any other fashion moment she's had all year, except she added butterflies to her hair. It would have been so fun for her to truly WOW us the way Billie Eilish did last year in her Marilyn cosplay. I would have loved to see Olivia all ruffled and bustled up, but I do appreciate the neckline is very Gilded-era appropriate.
Kaia Gerber gave us disco fairy queen in her — yes, gilded — Alexander McQueen gown. I like this look, and it's technically gilded and glamorous, but felt a bit underwhelming to me.
My queen Julianne Moore went extremely understated, but not on the night I'd want! This Tom Ford is elegant, and was inspired by what Jackie Kennedy would wear to a state dinner, but just lacks a bit of wow factor.
I know I said the theme was gilded, and more is more, but Chloe Bailey really took that to mean "melting Jessica Rabbit being choked by a golden snitch." This Area design is undeniably NOT BORING but vaguely trying too hard? The necklace AND the exaggerated hips/bust is a lot of look.
It's honestly profound how much Katy Perry's Oscar de la Renta look was just a big blah nothing. A lot of design elements mishmashed together in the most forgettable way. And if any house should absolutely nail this theme, it's Oscar de la Renta.
Is this Christian Siriano look gilded? Technically no. Is it glamour? Yes, I think maybe. Normani gets some points here for effort and an A+ for abs, but I don't expect myself to remember this one years into the future.
The greatest Met Gala sins are to be boring or completely ignore the theme in favor of just sexiness and credit goes to the Kardashians/Jenners for nailing both. We have, left to right: Kylie in what can only be a dream wedding gown sketch by a high school basketball player; Khloe in a been-there-one-million-times gold sequin pageant gown; Kourtney in a cropped men's shirt and a giant Ace bandage, with a train of unfinished tailoring by Thom Browne; and Kendall in a costume of Gwyneth Paltrow's much-maligned goth Oscars look from 2002. Not a one truly understood the assignment, bless 'em.
Now listen — I'm not crazy or blind, this is FASHION and I kind of love it. But it's so wildly disregarding of the theme, in my mind (I guess the corset counts?) that I found myself actually annoyed when I saw it. Furthermore, I love the futuristic evil space queen vibe of the puffer coat, but considering Rihanna literally blew our minds in a couture puffer coat at the recent September 2021 Met Gala, it felt more copycat than revolutionary.
Camila Cabello somehow managed to come dressed in a look that isn't working really for any theme, and isn't the most flattering cut, either. Her peekaboo drape at the hip is accessorized with a garden of fake flowers that look haphazardly glued on. The top itself is odd and unflattering, and the fabric looks cheap. Prabal Gurung kinda dropped the ball on this one.
This man is apparently a Swedish creative director named Fredrik Robertsson but everyone took one look and was like, "Wow, Jared Leto really be out here dressed as a gilded glamorous lamplighter fish." Truthfully, I usually love the futuristic delicacy of Iris Van Herpen's designs, but this was so hilariously WTF off-theme you had to laugh. I love imagining him navigating the party with his fish ribs and giant claws. I hope he stuck them into each crudite and ate them off his nails like he was Edward Scissorhands.
Emily Ratajkowski appeared to dig into her childhood dress-up and craft boxes and pull out 3-4 ballet costumes, an old tablecloth, a bag of those mini pom-poms and treated the night as her own personal "Make it Work" moment. It's vintage Versace and it misses the mark in every possible way.
I love Maggie Rogers so much but this sheer...bib? Safety vest?... ain't it. And freeing the nipple at the Met Gala isn't really shocking at this point; it just reads lazy. The general yawn of the whole ensemble is a real head-scratcher. Of all the Chanel outfits in the world, this felt like the one?
Emma Stone looks very lovely in her Singing in the Rain flapper dress and bejeweled Mary Janes, but my friends, this is what phoning it in looks like. Huge disappointment from someone who I would have loved to see serve up a full Madame X moment on the stairs. The event AND the painting are at the Met for chrissakes! It was right there for the taking and she left it on the table.