Review: The Met Gala

Review: The Met Gala

Trinity Gilreath, Staff Reporter

The Met Gala took place on May 2, 2022, and it was incredibly underwhelming and boring. Hardly anyone followed the theme and the majority of the looks were forgettable, which is disappointing considering how excited I was for this year’s dress code, which was “Gilded Glamour,” the second part of the Met Gala’s exhibit “An Anthology in American Fashion” (In case you’re confused, the theme of this year’s Met Gala is “America: An Anthology of Fashion” but many articles referred to “Gilded Glamour,” which is the dress code, as the theme of the Met). Part One of the exhibit was held in September of 2021 after a year long break due to the pandemic, and similar to this year, most of the attendees didn’t get the theme. However, I feel like this theme was a lot easier to follow yet a lot of celebs missed the mark.

The dress code refers to the Gilded Age, an era in America that lasted between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century. The era saw rapid change in industrialization, the economy, and immigration. Families like the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts, who are still around today, first gained their prominence during this time. During this time, there was a power struggle between the new money people (who are now considered old money) who were starting to get wealthy from their booming businesses (at the expense of their workers, of course) and those established Americans whose fortunes go back to before the 1700s. Many people have been confusing Gilded Age fashion with clothing popular during the Rococo period and the Regency era; those took place during the mid to late 1700s in France and the 1810s in England, respectively. However, Gilded Age fashion did take inspiration from past European trends. The Gilded Age saw the introduction of trends like the bustle (which went in and out of fashion during the period) and athletic wear.

Now that we have an idea of what Gilded Glamour is, let’s get into the actual Met Gala. Like I said, the 2021 Met gala was incredibly disappointing, so disappointing that I actually dreaded watching this one in fear of being let down again, but at the same time, I thought that the dress code was definitely more specific and that there wouldn’t be as many mistakes. Boy, was I wrong! The first look I saw for the night (via Twitter as I couldn’t be bothered to actually watch the livestream) was Squid Game’s Hoyeon Jung in a suede cut-out mini dress by Louis Vuitton, and that set the tone for the night. It seems like those in Louis Vuitton had the hardest time following the theme, with Emma Stone’s white silk dress being more reminiscent of the Roaring 20’s coming to mind. Along with it not fitting that theme, it was also incredibly boring.

Speaking of boring, Hailey Bieber’s backless silk gown reminded me of literally every single red carpet look I’ve seen Hailey in the past couple of months, along with her wedding dress. The only thing memorable about the look was the feathered cape. One of my favorite looks of the night comes from Blake Lively in Atelier Versace. The look is inspired by the Statue of Liberty, which was gifted by France during the Gilded Age. The dress transforms from copper to green, referring to the oxidation process of the Statue of Liberty. The dress is absolutely stunning and was a creative way to refer to the Gilded Age. Another fan favorite look was Billie Eilish in custom Gucci. While I appreciate Billie being one of the only people to follow the theme and probably the most accurate, I did not like the dress at all and had more people followed the dress code, it wouldn’t have been very memorable. This also goes for Kacey Musgraves’ dress, as it was accurate, but I did not like it at all.

There are plenty of looks that I adore that do not fit the theme. For example, Laura Harrier looked stunning, but her dress looked like something you would see in The Tudors or Reign (two shows that take place during the mid-to late sixteenth century in England). Olivia Rodrigo’s look also comes to mind. A look that stood out to me was Emma Corrin’s, which was referring to Evander Berry Wall, aka “King Of The Dudes”, a New York socialite from the time period who was known for outshining his other male counterparts.

Possibly the most controversial look comes from Kim Kardashian, who wore the infamous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962. This is definitely one of my least favorite looks of the night (along with the rest of her family’s looks). The styling comes off as incredibly cheap and off-putting, as the dress was made to match Marilyn’s skin tone, not Kim’s. I think if they had just made a replica made for Kim’s body type and skin tone, it would’ve been better, even though it still doesn’t follow the dress code. Some other looks I can enjoy belong to Anitta, Normani, Cardi B, and Vanessa Hudgens.

It’s often joked about that men at the Met Gala usually give nothing by wearing a generic suit and tie to the event regardless of the theme or dress code, but this year I did find myself liking some of their looks. My favorite look on a male comes from Ashton Sanders, whose look I interpreted as a modern take on the uniforms worn by the Buffalo Soldiers, the all-black regiment that was founded during the Civil War. Other men, like Ryan Reynolds and David Harbour, traded out the boring modern tux for ones inspired by men’s fashion during the gilded age. I give Gossip Girl’s Evan Mock credit for being creative with his look (it’s definitely an improvement from what he wore at the last meeting). However, the ruffled collar reminded me of the Elizabethan era. Bad Bunny’s look, which was a take on the pigeon breast silhouette popular toward the end of the Gilded Age, was also pretty great. Most of the other looks were unmemorable or really bad (I’m looking at you, Sebastian Stan), but at least I was able to pick out a few of the looks that I actually liked.

What is the Met Gala without celebrities trying to make a political statement (who can forget Cara Delevingne’s look protesting the patriarchy…), especially with a dress code dedicated to a time that was hard for everyone except for the white and rich? Riz Ahmed’s look pays homage to those “Immigrant Workers Who Kept the Gilded Age Going” and Quannah Chasinghorse’s look wasn’t political per se but was a celebration of her indigenous culture, a culture that was actively erased in the years leading up to and during the Gilded Age by white Americans. Hilary Clinton had the names of 60 women who inspired her embroidered on her gown, and the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adam’s tux was emblazoned in the back with the word “end gun violence.” I have complex feelings about political statements (specifically those pertaining to class inequality) at an event you have to pay $35,000 just to attend, not including a seat at the dinner, as it usually feels incredibly performative. However, I feel that with a dress code celebrating a time that was hard on the majority of Americans, it was the perfect chance to make a statement, as seen in Riz Ahmed’s look.

Overall, this year’s event was a letdown, not because I had high expectations, but because the topic didn’t appear to inspire most guests. I’m hoping that the gala can shake off its funk next year and provide something as iconic as the 2018 Heavenly Bodies Met.