Student Opinion: Met Gala Fashion – Who Nailed the Theme?

Blake Lively is in a strapless dress with geometric and metallic patterns on the gown. She is wearing metallic colored orange and pink gloves. The dress has a large bow and train also in the metallic orange and pink color. On the dress itself and under the train there is a hint of blue.
Blake Lively is in a strapless dress with geometric and metallic patterns on the gown. She is wearing metallic colored orange and pink gloves. The dress has a large bow and train also in the metallic orange and pink color. On the dress itself and under the train there is a hint of blue.
Blake Lively wearing Custom Versace, Image Via David Fisher of Shutterstock

By: Mia Balterra

THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK – On May 2nd, 2022; New York’s high society, celebrities, and fashion icons gathered to walk the red carpet for the event of the season: the 2022 Met Gala. The words “Gilded Glamor” have been circulating the internet referring to the gala, and critics have not held back on outfits that apparently lacked glamor and gilt. This has led to the common misconception that this was the theme for the evening, but in fact it was only the dress code, the real theme was “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” a continuation of last year’s theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Yet it appears critics were not the only ones who ignored the official theme, as most celebrities seemed to latch onto only the words “Gilded Glamor” when it came to their attire. 

Before examining which celebrities nailed the look for the event, let’s discuss the theme and the dress code of the evening. In America: An Anthology of Fashion (which served as both the theme for the Met’s fashion exhibit and the gala) is described as providing more historical context for last year’s theme and getting “specific, delving into the usually overlooked backbone of American style,” by exploring it through its history. 

Accompanying the theme, the dress code for the event “Gilded Glamor” refers to the historical period in America known as the Gilded Age which spanned roughly from 1870-1900. This time was marked by wealth, opulence, and excess. The fashion of the era also reflected the riches of the upper class, with extravagant gowns including lots of material, gathered backs, and diverse colors. Thanks to improving textile technology of the time, material was more available and gowns also were adorned with lace, frills, fringe, and ruffles. The bustle silhouette is also a mark of the Gilded Age, the shape of a gown which puts emphasis on the backside of the wearer. 

Keeping all this in mind, who nailed the theme and dress code this year? First, Billie Eilish, who wore vintage Gucci, executed her look beautifully. 

Billie Eilish is in a pastel colored gown. The body of the dress is yellow, the sleeves are green, and the bodice is darker yellow with a purple flower and blue straps. Billie is wearing a black choker that matches her black hair. She is looking off into the distance
Billie Eilish wearing vintage Gucci, Image Via Getty Images

Her look for the evening was inspired by a portrait of Madam Poirson, painted by John Singer Sargent in the height of the Gilded Age. The cinched waistline and bustle train of her outfit perfectly fit the time period of the dress code, while details like her hair and accessories still kept the outfit remarkably her own style. 

Another top pick was Nicola Coughlan, my personal favorite, who wore an ensemble by Richard Quinn which featured a long train and bustle, duchess satin, and exposed cups. 

Nicola Coughlan is in a pink and black dress with puffy sleeves and an impressive train. The interior of the dress and the sleeves are baby pink. The exposed cups and the train are black. Across the dress, there are feathers sticking out of it in pink and black. Nicola has platinum blonde hair and pink eyeshadow.
Nicola Coughlan wearing Richard Quinn, Image via Getty Images

What truly excited me about this look was the feathers that adorned the dress. The 3D-ness of the gown draws attention to the splendor of the time period it draws inspiration from. 

Let’s not forget a few honorable mentions for the evening. Blake Lively wore a dazzling Versace gown with a twist that cannot go without mentioning. Lively first entered the event dressed in copper satin and a gemmed bodice, but only a few moments later, those in attendance were stunned to see the gown change before their very eyes into a teal version of the dress. Lively’s gown got everything right about the theme, but lacked in the dress code department. It definitely takes the award for most stunning gown of the evening, but once the bustle silhouette was removed to transform the dress to teal, the shape didn’t appear unique to the Gilded Age. One cannot ignore the sheer drama the gown commands and the stunning craftsmanship and details. The gown and crown Lively wore are said to have taken inspiration from American architecture, namely the colors of the Statue of Liberty and buildings like the Empire State Building. 

Another strong honorable mention is Cardi B who appeared at the gala covered in embroidered Versace jewelry and chains. The look is no doubt gilded, as the Versace gold seems to emulate hanging gold coins. The dress is the very picture of luxury and grandeur, as its details reflect styles of the 1800’s, even the gold choker and arm accessories a nod to the popular gloves and neck jewelry of the time. It is only that skin-tight shape of the gown that brings it out of the Gilded Age and into the 21st century.

As this year’s theme and dress code were the most specific in recent years, it seemed like it would be impossible for those who would attend, with their endless resources, to miss the mark. Yet when it comes to reviewing outfits that graced the red carpet, only a few out of so many got it right. Some notable misses included Kim Khardasian, whose vintage Marilyn Monroe dress was gorgeous but fell flat on the time period, and Emma Stone, whose white Louis Vitton gown was pretty, but only that—having neither the gilt nor the shape fit for the evening. There were some who nailed their looks, but only a few. Still, we can revel in the glamor of those few diamonds of the night and look forward to the announcement of next year’s theme, hoping more will meet the challenge of matching the theme elegantly.



About The Author

Jordan Varney received a masters from UC Davis in Psychology and a B.S. in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd. Varney is editor in chief of the Vanguard at UC Davis.

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