The Daily Telegraph
Was this year’s Met Gala the campest, most chaotic ever?
After a two-year hiatus, no one remembered what to do – which made it lots of fun, says Emily Cronin
WThe people we’re still talking about are the bonkers dressers not the sedate ones
ell, that was something. The Met Gala, known as the Oscars of the fashion world, returned to New York on Monday evening. All the biggest names in fashion and entertainment (and Youtube and Tiktok) rocked up to the beige carpet to celebrate the opening of In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, the Costume Institute’s next exhibition. Their assignment: to dress according to the theme of American Independence.
They ignored it.
Never have we seen a more confused, disjointed, off-theme Met Gala red carpet than last night’s event. Not even the Camp: Notes on Fashion red carpet in 2019, when Katy Perry attended as a human chandelier and Jared Leto carried a model of his own head, came close.
The red carpet was a parade of chaos. For an event celebrating American fashion, there was a remarkably strong showing for European luxury brands. Kim Kardashian wore head-to-toe black Balenciaga by Demna Gvasalia. Chanel dressed US Open champion and woman of the hour Emma Raducanu and Kristen Stewart, and Saint Laurent put Olivia Rodrigo in a black lace catsuit.
Met Gala standouts Beyonce and Lady Gaga steered clear. Rihanna, whose late appearance reliably generates the indelible fashion moment of the event, showed up late, wearing a sedate (for her) Balenciaga duvet-coat dress and beanie with a jewelled headpiece underneath.
The risk of an “American fashion” theme was always that it would tip into the realm of costume – of cowboys and Statues of Liberty and Marilyn Monroes.
Billie Eilish channelled Marilyn in a peach Oscar de la Renta mega-gown. (Before Eilish, a vegan animal rights activist, agreed to wear it, she extracted a commitment from the brand that they would discontinue the sale of fur.)
Jennifer Lopez, whose recent red-carpet appearances have set expectations for something jawdropping, brought the retro Spaghetti Western vibes in a brown feathered Ralph Lauren gown, cowgirl hat and choker necklace.
And there was plenty of literal star-spangled dressing, from Megan Rapinoe’s red, white and blue ensemble (completed by a blue Perspex clutch emblazoned with “In Gay We Trust”, to Amanda Gorman in crystal-covered royal blue Vera Wang. She said the gown was a reimagining of Lady Liberty – the title on her book-style clutch said: “Give us your tired” – part of the opening line of Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus”, written for the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Messages weren’t just for handbags – New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-cortez wore a bespoke white gown by Brother Vellies with “Tax The Rich” scrawled across the back in red paint. Perhaps anticipating criticism that anyone attending a $300,000-a-table event might not want to bite the hand that donates to her re-election campaign, she wrote on Instagram that the gown was borrowed, and reminded everyone that elected officials regularly attend New York cultural events.
So yes, the red carpet was many things. It was campy, it was chaotic, it was crazy. “It’s just gone full-on fancy dress, hasn’t it?” a colleague observed during the post-mortem.
But you know what? It was also fun. The people we’re still talking about two mornings after aren’t the sedate ones (though Justin and Hailey Bieber did look smashing). They’re the bonkers dressers, the people who dared to go there, to indulge their wildest impulses. Those who said, “Can I have a bigger sleeve and extra sequins?”
People like Schitt’s Creek creator and star Dan Levy, who wore a gay-rights themed custom Loewe outfit
and a great big smile. And Lupito Nyong’o, whose panelled denim Versace gown nodded to Justin and Britney’s double-denim moment (surely one for the American fashion history books).
Of course there were highlights on the more tasteful end of the spectrum as well. Exceptional ones. Iman in goddessy gold Harris Reed/ Dolce and Gabbana. Anna Wintour in de la Renta and Bee Carrozzini (her daughter) in a teal Valentino gown. Jennifer Hudson in a ravishing red gown, a custom creation from Azfactory, worn to honour late designer Alber Elbaz.
I’m pleased the Met Gala red carpet is back. Everyone can be forgiven for being a touch overexcited and confused. The Met Gala red carpet is a high-pressure fashion environment after a period with little practice. The point is to keep trying, keep creating conversation and inspiring debate. When it comes to the Met Gala, over-the-top dressing is always a good idea.