The 2021 Met Gala was this past week and the theme for this year was “American Independence” highlighting American fashion. I always enjoy looking at the fashions from the Met Gala from the comfort of my bed in my sweatpants. I don’t have any credentials to critique the looks of the Met but I do think I have some credit to critique the theme and it’s execution. Last year’s theme was “Camp” so I already missed that before this year’s carpet started and, to me, this year was slightly underwhelming; however, I think there were some subliminal themes that tied the night together.
Firstly, there was more text than usual on the carpet this year; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, wore a dress that read, “tax the rich”, this was a bold statement to wear on one of the world’s wealthiest carpets in America and was a spot on interpretation of the theme in my opinion if a little tacky fashion wise. Cara Delevingne wore something with text regarding the patriarchy, which is always a bold statement but very fitting for the theme.
Other people decided to pay homage to certain classic Hollywood figures like Billie Eilish referencing Marilyn Monroe, model Anok Yai referencing Josephine Baker, and Kendall Jenner with a reference to Audrey Hepburn. I feel these also fit the theme the best because it uses fashion as a form of retroactivity and respects the legends of the past. These people often have shaped what we think of American fashion and the looks the celebrities presented brought the carpet back to classic American elegance.
There was also a good deal of queer voices and reference at this years Gala with influencer Nikkie de Jager referencing trans activist Marsha P. Johnson and her phrase, “pay it no mind”, French actress Isabelle Huppert seemingly referencing American drag queen Divine, and Dan Levy wearing a garment with two men in front of a world map. These statements were important as we move forward as a country to continue to fight for equality for the members of the LGBTQ community.
I’d also like to talk about Kim Kardashian’s all black Met Gala look because I have seen it described as a representation of the American media and how we didn’t need to see her face to know that it was Kim Kardashian, we all just know her body. Much of American Fashion is very body focused and isn’t body positive which is something I think we could all think more about. I think a great example of this concept is the sheer amount of bedazzled bodysuits and skin tight dresses we saw on the carpet this year.
As I look back on this year’s carpet I realize that it was just that, a red carpet; which isn’t a bad thing because a lot of times American fashion is categorized by what celebrities are wearing to award shows and different red carpet events.
It doesn’t really matter what looks I didn’t like because that doesn’t add anything to the conversation, but I will say that men who wear a black tux to the Met Gala, one of the biggest fashion carpets in the world, seriously make my blood boil.
So, while I think that many of the looks were underwhelming, I don’t really have the credentials to critique that, what I can do is see how their outfit ties into the theme in a larger picture way. Fashion is beautiful when it has reference, is innovative and can be used as a language.
The 2021 Met Gala showed us that America has work to do on the front of the government, of LGBTQ equality, and of body positivity.