The main theme of the 2021 Met Gala was, ostensibly, “In America: A Fashion Lexicon”. So it was surprising that so many attendees chose to wear European designers.
Fashion has a great tradition across the pond, of course. But the history of American fashion is equally rich in beauty, poetry, symbolism and power. In the 1920s, flappers broke free from centuries of painful and dangerous corsets with their straight dresses. Suffragists, knowing their challenge to persuade hearts and minds, wore white to make their cause as acceptable as possible to the American public. The policy of respectability, in hindsight, deserves criticism, but activists in the civil rights movement wore Sunday church costumes and clothes for this reason. Later, the Black Panthers pioneered black clothes and natural hair to signify their fury at America’s racist heritage, a look that has resurfaced among today’s racial equality activists. . Beyoncé paid homage to this iconic style in her Super Bowl “Training” performance.
America has given birth to so many styles of fashion which today form the basis of our cultural identity. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rightly noted that she was a working class woman of color at a tony event, but this is proof that this country was not built by the people who wore her most chic clothes. So it follows that the few examples of true and thoughtful Americana at the American-themed Met Gala were almost entirely from women of color. From Quannah Rose Chasinghorse in native turquoise jewelry to Gabrielle Union’s powerful inspiration behind her Iris van Herpen dress, here’s what brought the theme of the Met Gala to life.