There were so many celebrities on the red carpet at Monday’s Met Gala, you’d think fashion itself was going out of fashion.
Last year, we were robbed of the chance to see extremely beautiful people wearing clothes we could never afford as the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Fortunately, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual display of feathers and flamboyancy was back on form this year, with veterans of the event being pictured alongside plenty of younger stars who were making their gala debut.
The event’s previous themes have included punk, campery, Catholicism and technology, but the Met kept things home-grown for 2021. In America: A Lexicon of Fashion invited guests to celebrate the US, its history and its greatest designers.
The Met Gala is the fashion industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, and sees designers, models, and Hollywood stars gather together to compete for media coverage. The event raises money for the Costume Institute – the only one of the Met’s curatorial departments that has to fund itself.
You’ve probably already seen the likes of Lil Nas X, Emma Raducanu and Kim Kardashian grabbing the headlines. So here’s a round-up of some of the other eye-catching looks from the event, and who designed them.
1. Kim Petras was not horsing around
Kim Petras walks into a bar, and the barman says ‘Why the long face?’ Except in this slightly painful analogy, he’s actually talking to her dress.
The German pop star wore a light blue Collina Strada gown with a bright floral print and a giant horse’s head jutting out from the top of the gown, as you do.
Petras said she grew up riding horses and wanted to represent “all horse girls and horse humans here today”.
Designer Hillary Taymour, who walked the red carpet with Petras, said: “We could be on the best-dressed list, or the worst-dressed list, but hopefully it’s one of those moments people will reference. ‘Remember that time Kim Petras and I dressed up as horses for the Met gala?'”
It was one of the boldest looks of the night, and presumably put Petras in the frame for the next Godfather sequel.
2. Simone Biles brought serious star quality
The gymnast’s dress might look like it was made of feathers, but her showgirl-inspired satin gown actually featured feather-mimicking crystal embroidery.
We get the feeling actual feathers might have at least been a bit lighter.
“How do I feel in the dress? It’s definitely heavy, but I feel beautiful, strong, and empowered,” Biles told Vogue ahead of the Met Gala.
Designed by Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk of Area, the three-in-one outfit consisted of a hand-embellished skirt covered in Swarovski crystals weighing more than six stone (around 40kg), a mini dress underneath; and a black catsuit decorated to look like a starry night’s sky.
3. Dan Levy can give you directions to the station
Because he turned up with a map of the world helpfully embroidered on to his stunning outfit.
The Schitt’s Creek star worked with Loewe’s creative director Jonathan Anderson to create an oceanic ensemble which he said celebrates “the resilience and the love and the joy” of the LGBT community.
While his on-screen character David Rose would have jumped at the chance to attend a Met Gala, Levy reflected: “I’m a pretty introverted person, and I tend to avoid big parties, so this is really taking a big step out of my comfort zone.”
The intricate strong-shouldered multi-pastel outfit, which features hand embroidery and beading, featured an image of two men kissing inspired by the work of the late artist and Aids activist David Wojnarowicz.
Levy explained: “Jonathan described [the look] as a superhero for the community, and when I put it on, I definitely feel that. And to me, that’s an America that I want to be a part of.”
4. Camila and Shawn made their Met debut
Monday’s event marked the first Met Gala for one of the hottest couples in music – Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello.
The pair are used to posing affectionately together on red carpets – the night before the gala they appeared at the MTV VMAs, and earlier this month the couple posed at the Miami premiere of Cabello’s new film Cinderella.
The Havana singer wore a purple crop top and skirt from Michael Kors, complete with sequins and feathers.
Not one to break with form, Mendes also opted for a Kors outfit – and looked every inch the 1980s American rock star by going topless underneath a black leather jacket. “I almost tried to get him to take that jacket off down there,” Cabello joked to reporters. “I was like, ‘Take it off! Take it off!'”
Maybe next year.
5. Please stop what you’re doing and bow down to Jennifer Lopez
We said “icons only” and Jennifer Lopez replied: “OK, I’ll be there.”
The 52-year-old (sorry, what?) singer and actress, truly one of the most underrated pop stars of her time, owned the red carpet with her Ralph Lauren-designed ensemble.
The all American, western-inspired outfit included faux fur sleeves, a black cowgirl hat and, as the Daily Mail would say, revealed a plunging neckline.
Lopez has recently romantically reunited with Ben Affleck, who went to the Met Gala with J Lo but didn’t walk the red carpet, opting to head straight inside. (You didn’t miss much, he wore a fairly standard black tuxedo).
6. Kid Cudi went emo
We applaud any male stars who ditch boring suits in favour of something far more interesting – and Kid Cudi worked day and night to come up with something that wouldn’t disappoint.
His acid green hair and sooty eye make-up were almost as interesting as his outfit – the US rapper looked like he could have been inspired by Dennis Rodman’s ’90s party days.
Cudi wore a Louis Vuitton ensemble, complete with a cerulean (yes we’ve been watching The Devil Wears Prada) sweatshirt and transparent vinyl pants.
The look was finished off with a diamond and 18-karat gold astronaut chain designed by Ben Baller and KAWS.
“And for those asking me… yes. The space man’s backpack really opens up,” Baller wrote on Twitter.
7. Grimes is going into battle
Yes, I’m perfectly well aware that face masks are no longer obligatory, thought Grimes to herself as she got ready for the Met Gala, but don’t you think this one complements my outfit so well?
The singer (and partner of Elon Musk) wore an outfit inspired by the forthcoming sci-fi epic Dune, and her stylist Turner reached out, as they say in the US, to borrow an original mask from the film from jewellery maker Chris Habana.
Grimes wore an Iris van Herpen custom gown, which the designer described as “inspired by distant futures” and spent over 900 hours perfecting.
Lightning-bolt shapes were made from mirror-finish liquid silicone, individually hand-crafted and arranged in a 3D “laser-cut labyrinth” on a nude-illusion bodice.
8. A$AP Rocky has a new hobby
Some people learned an instrument or a language during lockdown, but A$AP Rocky evidently got around to making one of those patchwork quilts your auntie Monica was always so good at.
His girlfriend Rihanna wore a Balenciaga couture black ruffle dress from Nicolas Ghesquière’s fall 2021 collection, with a beanie and Bulgari diamonds.
In news which will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen Rihanna live, the singer turned up extremely late to the Met Gala. So late, in fact, that the live streaming had stopped by the time she and all the other attendees were inside partying.
You’d think dating someone called A$AP would’ve improved her timekeeping skills. But then again, it wouldn’t be as fashionable if she wasn’t fashionably late.
9. Whoopi Goldberg and Carey Mulligan were each other’s Valentines
Christmas is only a few months away, so what better time for Whoopi Goldberg to remind everyone what her favourite Quality Street chocolate is.
The legendary actress paired her large purple ruffles with bright green, elbow length gloves. Her flowing gown was designed by Valentino with six layers that helped to build its bell-shaped design.
Goldberg said she was “proud” to walk down the red carpet with Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, who also designed Carey Mulligan’s pink dress (the strawberry cream?).
We hope he aims for the green triangle look next year.
10. Ella Emhoff showed why she’s now a professional model
The 22-year-old stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris walked the red carpet holding hands with Ozark star Julia Garner.
Emhoff wore a red Stella McCartney diamond mesh body suit with matching trousers, finishing off the futuristic look with sparkling eye gems and Cartier jewellery.
After attending her stepmother’s inauguration in January, Emhoff was snapped up by IMG models, and Monday marked her Met Gala debut.
“I’m someone who’s really passionate about comfort,” she told The New York Times. “Even though this is the Met, everyone is allowed to still feel comfortable in their own skin, their own style. There’s no playbook to how you dress to this.”
11. Erykah Badu is very sorry if she knocks into you
But her vision is somewhat impaired by her ensemble, designed by Thom Browne.
“Erykah is an American icon, she is a true definition of the creativity in America,” Browne said of the Grammy-Award winning queen of neo-soul.
Badu wore a black silk duchess gown with white satin buttons, sportcoat and suspender skirt.
But if you’re anything like us, the only thing you’ll really be looking at is that outstanding sausage dog purse.
12. There was no shortage of political slogans
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, naturally took the opportunity to make a political statement on the red carpet.
She attended with Brother Vellies designer Aurora James in a white-off-the-shoulder gown featuring a tulle skirt.
And in a message that we can’t imagine will have gone down that well with the various millionaires in attendance, the dress also displayed the giant words “tax the rich” in red on the back.
Model Cara Delevingne took a similar red-slogan-on-white-outfit approach, with a bullet-proof vest designed by Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri displaying the words “peg the patriarchy”.
Now obviously we’re far too young and innocent to know what pegging is, but she’s essentially supporting equality and women’s rights.
“If someone doesn’t know what this means, you’re gonna have to look it up,” Delevingne told Vogue. “It’s about women empowerment, gender equality – it’s a bit like, ‘stick it to the man’.”
13. Some took the theme more seriously than others
In a year where most celebrities pretty much ignored the theme and wore what they liked, we’re going to dedicate this last entry to fashion legend Tommy Hilfiger and his wife Dee Ocleppo.
While Hilfiger wore a fairly standard but sharp suit, Ocleppo clearly got the American theme memo and wore a dress which paid homage to the US flag.
It was red, it had white and blue stripes, OK fine it didn’t have any stars on it, but it looked elegant and stylish while in keeping with the theme.
Blondie singer Debbie Harry was one of the other celebrities who referenced the flag in her outfit (below).
Debbie and Dee, we salute you.
More highlights from the Met Gala: