The Met Gala is always one of the fashion world’s most premiere events. With the 2021 Gala coming on the heels of a dark and oppressive year, this year celebrities were determined to go bigger and bolder than ever. From gold armor and feathers to sparkles, crowns, and yards-long trains, this year’s red carpet was a triumph of Gen Z superstars who showed up – vaccinated and ready to raise money for charity. 

In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion

Met Gala 2021

This year’s Met Gala was a defiant counter to the darkness of 2020. The theme? “In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion.” Whatever that might mean, the dress code was, “American Independence.” And the stars definitely put their own interpretation on the theme. The Gala is considered one of fashion’s greatest “nights out,” a chance for those who intersect with fashion to show off their best looks. The whole event is a charity fundraiser for the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Per Centennial Beauty, “COVID-19 precautions were also in attendance, as the annual event is usually held on the first Monday of May, Given the pandemic, the event was cancelled in 2020 and postponed to September this year. In the lead-up to this year’s Met Gala, Vogue announced that the event would be ‘a smaller and more intimate affair than years past’ in order to keep the night a COVID-safe event.

But looking up from the setbacks, this year’s Met Gala was also different from events prior for other reasons. For one, it was the first time the red carpet was live-streamed for fashion enthusiasts around the world to enjoy. And in another exciting round of firsts, the gala honoured Amanda Gorman, Billie EIlish, Naomi Osaka, and Timothée Chalemet as the youngest line-up of Met Gala co-chairs to date, giving a nod to the influence of Gen Z on the fashion industry.”

Gen Z has bucked fashion norms more than perhaps any generation before it unless you go all the way back to the ’60’s. While fashion is itself an expression of art, progress, and defiance of norms, Gen Z has perfected the art of taking the familiar, but make it fierce. That skill was on full display last night.

The Night’s Wins

Met Gala 2021

So let’s take a look a some of the night’s biggest fashion wins.

  • Lil Nas X: Of course he’s the first one we mention; the man is everywhere, and leaving his mark on everything. But Lil Nas X’s fashion display last night was nothing less than sheer brilliance. It was an ode to the three warriors that must beat in the heart of an LGBTQ community member. First, Lil Nas X wore a flowing golden cloak, one that hid everything. He cast that off to reveal gleaming, full golden armor. That’s the warrior, the person who must harden themselves against hate. And last, he peeled off the armor to reveal a glittering, sparkle-covered skin-tight body suit that sang bravely of authenticity and embracing your true self. It was a performance, it was a statement, and it was a reminder that Lil Nas X is an icon.
  • Billie Eilish: The recently-embattled singer/songwriter perfectly captured the nostalgia of a Marilyn Monroe-esque chapter of America’s past, with a long flowing pink gown and short, bobbed blonde tresses. 
  • Saweetie: The rapper looked radiant in a rose gold down with a gauzy train easily 10 feet long.
  • Amanda Gorman: The Gala co-chair and famous contemporary poet dazzled in a Vera Wang interpretation of a different Lady Liberty, with a book-styled clutch and a flowing blue gown.
  • Troye Sivan: You can’t go wrong with a classic black gown, and Sivan paired the look with a playful mop of curls. 
  • Kendall Jenner: Jenner captured the essence of Audrey Hepburn in a jaw-dropping crystal-studded nude gown with a clean stark updo.
  • GiGi Hadid: We aren’t quite sure where this fits on the American Independence scale but Hadid looked absolutely breathtaking in a geometric white gown with a black peekaboo minidress under and long black leather gloves, topped off with a flowing red ponytail. 

Celebrities from all walks of life and talents showed up looking anything from classic to bold, and the night was a panoply of the young and beautiful.

The Night’s Fails

Met Gala 2021

But you can’t talk about the fashion that went right without scratching your head at what went wrong

  • Kim Kardashian: We get it, Kardashian has been focused on prison reform recently so her head-to-toe black Balenciaga garment covering all features was a statement on her thoughts about the state of freedom in the US. Probably. But it was a weird fashion choice that sort of missed the mark for a charity event.
  • Kim Petras: After looking like a rhinestone-studded joker card with a gimp mask at the VMA awards over the weekend, Petras decided to go classic last night. Just kidding. She actually wore a vinyl horse head over a loudly floral cocktail dress. It looked like a Collina Strada piece from New York Fashion Week’s runway – and it was, at the least, a memorable choice. 
  • Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello: We love these two, especially together, but they were not working for us last night. Mendes looked fine in an open-chest leather jacket with – is that velvet? – slacks. But paired with Cabello’s violently purple two-piece wrap moment with some feathers and sparkles – nothing made sense anymore.
  • Evan Mock: Since Petra proverbially threw down the gimp mask at the VMA awards, Mock picked it up. Alas, we hoped it was lost forever. 
  • Erykah Badu: The ’90’s hip hop artist/rapper wore some sort of quilt, with a beekeeper hat, and a dog purse. That’s probably not what she was actually wearing but the distinction is lost on us at this point.
  • Frank Ocean: This is probably the biggest fail of the night, and we’re not quite sure what Ocean was going for. With his lime green hair, Ocean needed the perfect accessory: green robot baby. Wait, what? Yep – he carried a green robot baby wearing a green track suit. 

It was a weird night, but then again the generation of the hour – Gen Z – glories in the bizarre. So with that in mind, it was perfect.