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The Met Gala, headed by Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, and known as New York City’s party of the year, returned Sept. 13 after being cancelled in 2020 amid the pandemic. The evening, which benefits the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, got off to an early evening start with guests including Keke Palmer, Ilana Glazer, and Emma Chamberlain making their way up the museum’s steps.
The co-chairs of the evening are Timotheé Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka joining honorary chairs Wintour, Ford and Instagram head Adam Mosseri. In tune with the new Costume Institute show In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, attendees have been asked to dress with American independence in mind. The event’s tip sheet noted that, “All attendees required to present proof of full vaccination and negative rapid PCR test.”
The Met Gala red carpet typically wraps at 8 p.m. — Vogue‘s Anna Wintour runs a tight ship, after all, and that’s when dinner is served. But a protest in the neighborhood earlier in the day held up arrivals, among the reasons stars including Regina King (in Michael Kors Collection) and Whoopi Goldberg (in Valentino) were still ascending the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art after 9 p.m. Last to arrive for the night was Rihanna, wearing a dramatic look by Balenciaga with almost 270 carats of Bulgari diamonds, and ASAP Rocky. Much of the press had departed by that point, but the photographers who stayed behind because “one more couple” was expected were rewarded for their patience.
Rihanna’s late entrance was among the elements that highlighted the comeback of the event. The night’s early guests also included Adrien Brody (with Georgina Chapman on his arm), Saweetie (in Christian Cowan) and David Byrne (in Phillip Lim), while the traditional first arrival up the steps was co-chair Wintour, who eschewed the Chanel she often wears in favor of a floral Oscar de la Renta gown this year. “It’s my homage to my friend,” Wintour said of the late designer, who passed away in 2014. “He’s the person who brought me to the museum in the first place.” Wintour has presided over the Met Gala since 1995 and is also a museum trustee; the Met’s Costume Institute was named for the Vogue editor-in-chief in 2014.
Anticipation for Monday night was unmistakable throughout New York, as attendees and media alike were ready for this party, which capped New York Fashion Week’s spring 2020 collections. “I’m very grateful to the museum that they were able to go forward with this,” Wintour added. “Both [exhibition curator] Andrew Bolton and I thought it was important to recognize Fashion Week and to help celebrate the reopening of New York, whether it was Broadway or restaurants being reopened, just the fact that we all could be back together. I’m so thrilled everyone is turning out tonight.”
Indeed, the carpet — not red, but a sustainable beige embellished with a leaf pattern in keeping with the party’s “green” approach, including a vegan menu this year — was teeming with superstars who caused high-pitched screams to arise from the fans watching behind police barricades that lined Fifth Avenue in front of the museum. Chalamet paired his white tuxedo look, a mix of Haider Ackerman and Rick Owens, with Converse Chuck Taylor high-top sneakers, the latter his nod to the night’s request to dress in the American spirit. Eilish, meanwhile, sent social media into a frenzy when she channeled a Marilyn Monroe vibe in a diaphanous ballgown by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim for Oscar de la Renta. Rounding out the co-chair slate was Gorman in cobalt custom Vera Wang Haute, while Osaka wore custom Louis Vuitton, a design that was the result of a collaboration between Osaka and her sister, Mari, with the label’s artistic director, Nicolas Ghesquiere, to create a look that honored the tennis star’s American, Haitian and Japanese heritage.
Many stars like Osaka dressed with the evening’s American spirit in mind: The museum will open its latest exhibition on Friday, thus the request by event planners to channel that idea in their clothes. That’s why Jennifer Lopez, Chance the Rapper, Kacey Musgraves, and Russell Westbrook chose Ralph Lauren, while King was joined by Kate Hudson and Ariana DeBose as the A-listers wearing Michael Kors Collection. Thom Browne was also a popular choice, worn by Sharon Stone, Jimmy Fallon, Pete Davidson, Erykah Badu, Lee Pace, and Mj Rodriguez. Prabal Gurung crafted beautiful dresses for Venus Williams and Gemma Chan, who said she wanted to honor legendary Asian actress Anna May Wong with her look.
And Zac Posen created one of the night’s most memorable designs for Debbie Harry, a deconstructed ballgown skirt crafted to resemble the stripes of an American flag, topped by a denim jacket made from a pair of jeans Posen said he had once worn and chose to upcycle to create Harry’s look.
Honorary chair Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, which sponsored the Met Gala, wore a graphic suit by New York-based label Bode, adding that it was his favorite designer. “We’re excited to support art and to support fashion, particularly for the city of New York, to try to be a part of taking steps forward as we figure out what the new normal is,” Mosseri said. “Instagram is a place where people push culture forward, where they tell their stories, and fashion is a huge part of that. When the opportunity came up to be a part of this and support the exhibition, we jumped at it.”
That doesn’t mean the event wasn’t without its European fashion representation, however, especially as many brands based in France and Italy purchased tables at this fundraiser. Among the attendees opting for fashion across the Atlantic were Yara Shahidi in Dior, Kristen Stewart and Margaret Qualley in Chanel, Haley Bieber and Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent, and Sienna Miller and Serena Williams in Gucci. Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi and Rita Ora wore Prada (Ora paired her look with more than 230 carats of De Beers diamonds), while Emily Blunt went to Miu Miu for a custom nude, crystal-embellished column dress and matching pearls and stars headpiece.
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli arrived with a group of women that included Carey Mulligan and Whoopi Goldberg. “It was a trip for me,” Piccioli said of working with Goldberg. “I want to always follow my dreams, and she’s a dream coming true.”
“We should all be really appreciative in doing this, because a lot of people didn’t survive, and it’s our responsibility to be here,” Goldberg added. “Those of us who are here have a responsibility to build things back up, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The event also boasted its fair share of outrageous looks (it wouldn’t be a Met Gala without them). Kim Kardashian turned up in a Balenciaga ensemble that completely covered her in black from head to toe (the man in the oversized hoodie accompanying her was rumored to be Kanye West). Iman was resplendent in a feather-embellished gown and massive headdress by London-based designer Harris Reed, while Grimes accessorized her Iris van Herpen gown with a metal mask and matching sword.
Dan Levy appeared in one of the night’s most talked-about designs, collaborating with Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson on a look that highlighted LGBTQ equality and was inspired by two works by David Wojnarowicz, an American artist and AIDS activist who died in 1992.
And not unlike Lady Gaga’s arrival at the 2019 Met Gala, Lil Nas X arrived in a grand cape that he quickly removed to reveal a golden metallic suit that evoked thoughts of Star Wars’ C-3PO, and soon enough removed those pieces to reveal a gold beaded jumpsuit, all courtesy of Versace. “We wanted to do royalty, then go into armor, and then get a little slutty,” he joked.
One guest in particular lit up social media. Progressive Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white gown emblazoned with “Tax the Rich” in red in back, causing a Twitter furor to erupt as many on the platform pointed out that tickets to the Met Gala cost $35,000 per person (the event is a benefit for the Costume Institute and is the primary source of its funds). Rapper Nicki Minaj also tweeted earlier in the day that she wasn’t on board for the event’s requirements for attendance — which included proof of full vaccination and a negative rapid PCR test, writing, “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. If I get vaccinated it won’t [be] for the Met. It’ll be once I feel I’ve done enough research.” Vaccine advocates, including fans of Minaj, quickly called her to task by tweeting her with science-based research.
But those moments ultimately were overshadowed by the sheer joy of several designers, who not only were thrilled to be back at the Met Gala, but also couldn’t wait to see the exhibition, because their designs are included in the museum’s showcase of iconic American fashion. “I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibit, because we’re actually in it, and that’s pretty thrilling,” Wang said. “It’s all so exciting and so positive; I think we’re all starved for some joy and excitement and creativity, and fashion brings that, just like music and film.”
Below, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at this year’s looks.
Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner
Timotheé Chalamet in Rick Owens and Haider Ackermann
The Dune star wore Converse sneakers along with a blazer by Haider Ackermann, Rick Owens top and two vintage Cartier piece, both from 1928, in platinum and diamonds.
Amanda Gorman in Vera Wang
Lil Nas X
Taraji P. Henson
Tracee Ellis Ross
Emma Chamberlain in Louis Vuitton
Keke Palmer in Sergio Hudson
Ilana Glazer in Aliette
Saweetie in Chistian Cowan
Billie Eilish in Oscar de la Renta
The singer wore a custom Oscar de la Renta with a massive train paired with Cartier pieces including high-jewelry earrings.
Dan Levy in Loewe
The Schitt’s Creek star made a powerful statement for LGBTQ equality wearing a custom outfit that showed two men kissing juxtaposed on a map.
Ella Emhoff in Stella McCartney
Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, in Bode, and Monica Mosseri
Evan Mock in Thom Browne
The actress wore a goth look inspired by The Matrix and designed by her boyfriend, Reuben Selvey.
Yara Shahidi in Dior
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