From jaw-dropping to head-scratching: How Met Gala 2021’s fashion moments both impress, disappoint viewers


Gracie Watt / Hilltop Views

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. The 2021 Met Gala was held Sept. 13.

The Met Gala returned on Sept. 13, with at-home spectators watching with high expectations and leaving mostly unimpressed. This year’s largest night in fashion focused on the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” showcasing how American fashion has been influenced by the latest political and social reform. It gave attendees the necessary vagueness to venture outside of the box, especially with American fashion currently undergoing a renaissance.

This renaissance started with the emergence of new, younger fashion designers. The most influential celebrities invited were either Gen Z’s favorite influencers or singers. Despite this, the theme’s broadness created a barrage of Old Hollywood homages and a lack of creativity. Many of the looks missed the mark altogether. Rather than a lavish celebration of fashion, the Met Gala’s triumphant return after its COVID-19 hiatus turned into a memeworthy spectacle.


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Many looks of the night went viral, and some —like TikTok star Addison Rae— went viral for the wrong reasons. Rae wore a red gown designed by Tom Ford for Gucci in 2003, stating that she was going for a vintage look. Viewers criticized her for calling a 2000s dress “vintage” and also for allegedly copying a dress worn by Kourtney Kardashian earlier this year. Regardless, it sparked a debate on how certain influencers were chosen and their prominence in the fashion industry.


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As an ode to the Met Gala’s extravagant style, fashion model Iman stunned in a collaboration from Dolce & Gabbana and Harris Reed. Bringing attention to 1950s ballroom culture, Iman’s look was described as “romanticism gone non-binary.” A showstopping ensemble and message is all that’s needed to wow at the Met Gala, yet Iman went above and beyond in her sunshine-reminiscent look.

Sometimes the message gets blurred behind the confusion for some celebrities’ fashion choices. A$AP Rocky wore a large quilt from ERL’s 2022 collection, symbolizing the very American heirloom. While the meaning behind the fashion choice is sentimental, it did not fit this year’s aesthetic. Perhaps if it were worn for the 2019 camp theme, then the rapper would’ve fit in.


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Other celebrities made statements that aligned with the theme’s core values, like Quannah Chasinghorse. The 19-year-old Indigenous model and activist went viral for being a stand-out amidst the confusing looks. Her ensemble represented the prominent need for America to acknowledge true American culture in Indigenous people and their culture. From her facial tattoos (Yidįįłtoo) to her turquoise jewelry representing Navajo culture, Chasinghorse brought visibility with her presence alone. The golden Dundas x Revolve dress is what ultimately made her a rising fashion icon.

There’s still another half to the Met Gala’s American theme, as the second exhibition planned to be hosted during the event’s usual time: May 2022.The next theme will be “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.” This time apart will give celebrities time to coordinate their outfits accordingly, and for at-home viewers to recover from the clutter of this theme.