Haute Couture, glamour, and the fierce competition to be the best dressed on the steps of the Met. Yesterday, the most important night in fashion returned, and once again the Met Gala was full of brilliance.
The Met Gala has become one of the most iconic events in the fashion industry; in fact, it’s so important that it’s practically mainstream news, taking over social media. The event itself was established in 1948 by Eleanor Lambert as a benefit gala for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was a night in which New York high society rubbed shoulders with the most prominent names in fashion. It was elegant and glamorous but not unlike any other benefit gala of the time. The buzz that there currently is around the gala began with the arrival of the legendary editor Diana Vreeland–a consultant to the Costume Institute—under whose vision, the gala became a legendary event.
Every year the Costume Institute–now the Anna Wintour Costume Center–opens the doors to a new exhibition that analyzes and explores the history of fashion. Each studies a different aspect of the industry and its relationship with different parts of society. They look at specific a designer’s influence on fashion or how fashion adapts to a specific era in history. Among the most acclaimed exhibitions are those that honor designers such as Christian Dior (1996), Gianni Versace (1997), The House of Chanel (2005), Poiret (2007), or Alexander McQueen (2011). Also famous are those exhibitions that explore fashion’s relationship to the world around it, like Punk: Chaos to Couture (2013), China: Through the Looking Glass (2015), Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology (2016) and Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination (2018); or those that give us a peek into the fashion industry such as The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion (2009) and Camp: Notes on Fashion (2018). Each exhibition explores different themes through the creations of great designers, as well as period clothing, showing how the fashion industry is woven into the fabric of modern society.
But beyond the exhibitions, it is the opening night—that is, the Met Gala—that really captivates the world’s attention. Hundreds of artists gather at the Met to see the long-awaited exhibition before anyone else. This year the format of the gala was a bit different due to the pandemic and was divided into two parts; the first was yesterday and the second will take place on the first Monday of May 2022. The In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibit unveils the history of American design and how it became what it is today. A quilted blanket from 1856 embroidered by Adeline Harris Sears becomes a metaphor: each designer, trend and garment is a small patch on the huge blanket that is American fashion. Through the years, American fashion has earned a reputation as being casual, but this exhibit wants to change that perception and show that American design is more than just that. It’s about nostalgia, belonging, joy, sweetness, precocity, optimism, and exuberance. And, as such, we see work from some of the most important names in American fashion, like Rodarte, Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Gilbert Adrian, Prabal Gurung, and Diane von Fürstenberg.
The Met Gala– celebrating the opening of the exhibition– took place on Monday, September 13th in an event in which la crème de la crème gathered in New York to pose on the steps of the museum. Among the guests we saw Kim Kardashian, Timothée Chalamet, Kristen Stewart, Brooklyn Beckham, Nicola Peltz, and Lil Nas X. But in addition to Anna Wintour’s curated guest list, the outfits give people something to talk about, since each must be in accordance with the theme of the exhibition. This year, the best looks were Karlie Kloss in a spectacular red Carolina Herrera dress designed by Wes Gordon, Billie Eilish and Kaia Gerber in garments designed by Fernando García, Laura Kim wearing Oscar de la Renta, J. Lo in a cowboy-influenced outfit from Ralph Lauren, and Sharon Stone in Thom Browne. And, for every guest that decides to follow the dress code, there is one who breaks it, and this also results in some spectacular looks (although not from American designers). Rihanna wore an outfit from Balenciaga’s latest Haute Couture collection; Eiza Gonzalez wore Atelier Versace, and Carey Mulligan wore a beautiful bubblegum pink dress from Valentino.
My favorite look of the night was Kendall Jenner’s look: a gorgeous mermaid dress from Givenchy. This see-through dress was covered in embroidered crystals that created the illusion of a chandelier falling over her body. To top off the look, Kendall wore an XL choker that perfectly framed this very Old Hollywood look. This outfit was a tribute to the dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in the movie My Fair Lady. Although the design worn by the 25-year-old model is a more modernized and sensual version (very in line with Kendall’s style), we certainly caught the reference to the 1964 dress, thereby staying within the theme of this year’s Met Gala. I think the dress points to the idea behind the exhibition: American fashion is a melting pot of not only American but also international designers, and they all have influenced the style and direction of fashion in the United States.
The Met Gala was a night of glamour that kicked off one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year. Undoubtedly many of you, like me, were impressed by the display of talent, expertise, and elegance that the designers presented on the red carpet. Now we can only wait for May 2022 to get here as soon as possible.