Ah, the Met Gala. What’s widely anticipated as the biggest night in fashion is coming up again, famously resuming its usual occurrence on the first Monday of May after being cancelled and then shifted due to a certain 2-year-long global event. The last ball’s theme was entitled ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’ and celebrated the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary, exploring a modern vocabulary of American fashion. This saw guests and designers pay tribute to Hollywood stars and American designers.
In May, we will be treated to part two of the theme, with the ball title shifting to ‘In America: An Anthology of Fashion’. This section will see guests explore a “thoughtful homage to our country’s history”, according to the event’s press release. For those guests and designers who did well in September, this time around will give them a chance to delve deeper into the theme, whilst coming at it from a slightly different angle. For those who’s looks fell flat, the upcoming gala presents a rare opportunity for redemption – that is, if they’re still on the guest list.
Although Karlie Kloss famously over-promised in 2019, there has been a handful of guests, designers and Lewks that hit the nail on the head every time. We’re taking a look at some of the best-dressed; those who truly understood the assignment, if you will.
Although questions remain as to whether Kanye will be ceremoniously uninvited from this year’s Met due to his recent online harassment, we can always look back to the glory days of his 2016 Met outfit. Matching with Kim in Balmain, Ye donned a diamond-encrusted denim jacket which took longer to make than Kim’s similarly glittering dress.
There is no Met Gala without Rihanna. Choosing just one of her looks was a struggle, as quite honestly there could have been a whole piece on her various fits for the annual ball. However, this piece by Guo Pei for the 2015 event just about took the top spot – a piece which both understood and responded to the theme of ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’. Her dress took two years and one person to make – found by Rih herself when researching for the event.
A$AP ROCKY 2021
Love it or hate it, A$AP Rocky’s last look was a hit for the theme last year. Enveloped in a quilt by designer ERL (which later turned out to be a thrifted bedspread made by someone’s grandma), this look captured the spirit of handcrafting in American culture. With quilts embodying family heirlooms, historical pieces and contemporary art, ERL was drawn to their rich and multifaceted symbolism in response to that year’s theme: ‘America: a Lexicon of Fashion’.
FRANK OCEAN 2021
One of the funniest headlines I’ve seen in a while came in describing Frank Ocean’s Met Gala look of the same year. Courtesy of The Cut, the title read ‘Frank Ocean Brought a Little Freak to the Met Gala’. No explanation, just vibes.
CARDI B 2018
The theme that year was Heavenly Bodies: The Catholic Imagination – and Cardi nailed it. To the cross. Wearing a custom Moschino gown which was embellished with gems, pearls and stones, the look screamed opulence, historical glamour and expense, and was complemented with a matching headpiece.
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN 2006
The oldest in the selection, this look had to be included as a look that truly understood the assignment. The theme was ‘Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion’, and realistically, McQueen was always going to crush it with this one. A swathe of tartan slashed across a tux, which gave way to nude coloured tulle fringing as part of a kilt.
KIM KARDASHIAN 2021
Last year was a big one for great Met looks. However, Kim Kardashian did something different, and something genius, with Demna. Subverting the theme by covering herself entirely, Kim turned up as a Balenciaga-fied silhouette of herself – and everyone knew who she was. Here, she pointed out the absurdity of celebrity culture, iconography, and complied with face mask regulations all in one. Genius.
TIMOTHÉE CHALAMET 2021
Gen Z poster boy Timothée Chalamet walked 10 blocks to get to the Met last year – an understated mode of transportation that both contrasted with and complemented his fit. As one of the ball’s co-chairs, the actor wore Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann and Converse, accessorised with a couple of vintage Cartier brooches, of course. Sporting the classic Chuck Taylors as his footwear of choice, it actually worked – especially considering the theme.
Timmy’s Dune co-star didn’t disappoint a couple of years earlier, either. Zendaya was officially recognised as a Fashion Icon by the CFDA last year, and looking back on her looks, it’s not hard to see why. Going for a different, yet equally as effective spin on the Heavenly Bodies theme, we saw Z in a Versace chainmail armour gown – giving Joan of Arc, but make it fashion.
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