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Image / Style / Fashion

Let’s tax the uninventive Met Gala outfits instead


By Holly O'Neill
14th Sep 2021
Let’s tax the uninventive Met Gala outfits instead

If I were Anna Wintour, I would simply no longer invite anyone who didn’t stick to my Met Gala theme.

The Met Gala is fashion’s Hallowe’en party and if you want to be boring and come in a tux like Channing Tatum, or if you think wide legs make for an enthralling outfit like Justin Bieber, then you can just stay home next year and let the rest of us have fun. We know now that considerable wealth is spent hand-constructing dresses, creating the event, buying tickets, booking celebrities, and to see it wasted on no taste and no creativity sucks the fun out of all the good outfits. The Met Gala is ostensibly a charity event for the Costume Institute and goddammit we want to see you wearing a costume.

The 2021 Met Gala was in celebration of the Costume Institute’s newest exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which gave the attendees a plethora of Murica ideas to create from. The uninventive and on my ‘uninvited next year’ list just wore something red, white or blue. Slightly more original were the many star-spangled outfits (see: Imaan Hammam and Emily Blunt) and Disney princess dresses (see: Carey Mulligan): all very Murica.

There was less founding father cosplay or takes on The Handmaid’s Tale (considering the new Texas abortion law) than I would have liked and some too subtle bows to Americana (see: Jlo in a cowboy hat). Those who are on my invited next year list include Debbie Harry, who came in an American flag ballgown with a denim jacket on top and striped red and white hoop skirt, Billie Eilish who came as Marilyn Monroe and Iman and Amanda Gorman who came dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Awards please, for Indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse who reminded everyone what America’s culture really is, Hunter Schafer who came as an alien, Kim Petras’ ode to cowboys and Westerns as a horse girl with a chunky braid and a horse’s head plastered to her chest and Lil Nas X’s C3P0 lewk. The most American look of all award however, goes to Grimes, who came with an unnecessary weapon.

Or perhaps the award should go to Kim Kardashian, clearly making a damning indictment against the War on Terror in an err, all black body suit with a face covering. Was she even there or did she just send a body double in a mask? If you had to condense America, let alone American fashion, into a small package to explain to aliens what it’s about today, you’d definitely include a Kardashian. There’s very little else that signifies America today more than Kim Kardashian – she is the theme. Her silhouette in all black was instantly recognisably Kim Kardashian, which might make her outfit the most on-theme of all.

Many attendees went the costume-as-content route, which brought a lot of dresses emblazoned in something as American as apple pie: slogans. And of course, when partying with Rihanna, surrounded by excess and wealth at fashion’s most exclusive event, it’s important to embellish your couture with activism. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who wore a wedding dress decorated on the back in red with the words ‘TAX THE RICH’ – unclear here if she was referencing the fashion industry’s elitism, the wealthy celebrities also in attendance, the couture gown she was wearing or the one percent.

Cara Delevingne wore a white vest that heralded ‘PEG THE PATRIARCHY,’ which she says is “about women empowerment—equality, gender equality, you know—it’s a bit like ‘stick it to the man,'” and not to get too caught up into the etymology of pegging (sorry but you’ll have to Google it) but as an evolution from the slogan ‘f**k the patriarchy,’ it reads more as making anal sex something humiliating to straight men which I don’t think I’d sum up as “equality, gender equality, you know,” but rather a tool of the same patriarchy. Might be safer to go with Megan Rapinoe’s ‘IN GAY WE TRUST’ clutch bag. At least New York congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s Equal Rights Amendment gown was suffragette themed, with sashes that read ‘EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN.’

The true winning American look, as American as it could get unless an eagle had landed on the red carpet, was the golden retriever inexplicably photographed on the Met steps. Definitely invited next year.

Photography by @kimkardashian.