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. . BeyoncÃ© paid homage to this iconic style in her Super Bowl âTrainingâ 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.
Quannah Chasinghorse was the only person who
really dressed themed.
Photo: Kevin Mazur / MG21 / Getty Images for the Met Museum / Vogue.
Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse walked the
red carpet in this stunning gown by Peter Dundas for Revolve. She is Han Gwich’in (mainly from Alaska and Canada) and Oglala Lakota (mainly from South Dakota), and also wore handmade Navajo. turquoise jewelry Courtesy of her aunt, Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw, who was crowned Miss Navajo 2006.
Nikkie de Jager, who is Dutch, pays homage to a black American LGBTQ + tranny icon.
Nikkie de Jager, a beloved beauty YouTuber from the Netherlands, crossed the pond for her first Met Gala. Her floral headgear paid tribute to black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson, who helped launch the U.S. movement for LGBTQ + equality. Johnson often wore fresh flowers in his hair; de Jager added mirrors to signify his own revolutionary career. The words embroidered on the dress also paid homage to Marsha, who often said the “P”. meant “Pay It No Mind”.
It makes sense that the American fashion icon is an immigrant of color – after all, immigrants define the supposed purpose of founding this country, and so much of American culture comes directly from communities of color. When asked how Rihanna’s Balenciaga outfit spoke to the theme of American fashion, she simply replied, âYou know what? I am an immigrant, and this is my point of view. Boom.
Amanda Gorman channels the Statue of Liberty.
Poet Laureate and co-host Amanda Gorman’s gorgeous Vera Wang tulle dress hit all the right notes on the red carpet, but her touchstone for the look was beautifully themed. She was inspired by the Statue of Liberty and carried a book-shaped sleeve that read “Give us your fatigue”, echoing the poem at the base of the statue.
Kim Kardashian makes a point.
Arturo Holmes / MG21 / Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images
What could be more American than carrying deadly weapons in public? Cynical jokes write themselves, as Grimes’ accessory of choice was a very real Brooklyn-branded MSCHF sword, forged from melted automatic rifles – a Colt AR-15A3, to be exact, a reported
Vogue. Since America was not even discovered when people were still fighting with swords, it was modeled on a “late medieval Western European sword circa 1400,” Grimes said. It should be noted: swords are illegal in New York.
Gabrielle Union’s dress represented the cultural transformation of America.
Gabrielle Union may have worn an Iris van Herpen creation (van Herpen is Dutch), but her inspiration for the look comes straight from her experience as a black woman in America. “Some see different colors, some see different shapes, but it’s changing and that’s what it’s supposed to be,” Union told
W of the transformative construction of the dress. âAs you move, there should be change, it shouldn’t be static. âIt should be a little weird for some, beautiful for others, over there for others. You should be able to have an opinion on this that does not match that of anyone else because it is about the evolution of what is going on in America.
AOC’s âTax The Richâ dress made a political statement.
There is a long history of political statements at
fashion shows and red carpet events. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in her duty as a local district congresswoman, attended the Met Gala in a custom Brother Vellies dress with “Tax The Rich” written in giant red letters. On social media, his gaze sparked fierce left-wing criticism of performative socialism and structural class inequality, but on Instagram, AOC claimed “the media is the message.” As one of the few Latin American women at the Met Gala, her very presence demands our attention.
Black Lives Matter activists demonstrated outside the Met.
Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images News / Getty Images
Freedom of speech is one of America’s fundamental tenets. Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated outside the Met Museum and sadly some young activists of color were arrested by the NYPD. Sadly, this is perhaps the most authentically American thing to happen at the 2021 Met Gala.