By Thza Kanapathipillai
On Monday, September 13th, 2021, the postponed Met Gala (also known as fashion’s biggest night of the year or the fashion world’s Oscars) made a return at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is the event where designers, celebrities, and models dress up in looks that adhere to the theme of the year to celebrate and fundraise for the fashion exhibit of the museum. This year’s theme was “American Independence,” and the exhibit will be presented in two parts: “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” which opened a few days after the party on September 18th, and “In America: An Anthology Fashion” which opens May 5th, 2022. The theme was chosen to represent how identity has evolved and made an aesthetic and cultural impact on fashion in America. So here is an unqualified review of some of the red carpet outfits that actually followed the theme!
Amanda Gorman is known for her reading at President Biden’s inauguration, radiating a bright light of hope in a dark time, the same way the Statue of Liberty was for immigrants to the United States. She stunned in a “reimagined Statue of Liberty” look with symbolic accessories. Her clutch is shaped like a book, and the title, “Give me your tired,” refers to the poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus.
Quannah Chasinghorse is an indigenous model and activist of Han Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota ancestry. Chasinghorse was praised for face tattoos called Yidįįłtoo, which was done by her mother to commemorate important events in one’s life; the lines represented generations and personal traumas. Her dress was also accessorized with Navajo jewelry and illustrated the importance of reclaiming culture, She IS American fashion.
Kim Kardashian fit the theme perfectly, despite the many memes that followed. She made a statement with her outfit by saying that her presence is still noticed because of her publicized body, even as a blacked-out silhouette. Her dress brought up multiple discussions, with some thinking it was purely a commentary on “cancel culture,” while others thought it was about her divorce from Kanye West. Nevertheless, because of the different meanings that could be applied to her outfit, her dress represents abstract art.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caused a stir with her Met Gala outfit, making a political statement. She wore a white, off-the-shoulder dress with “Tax the Rich” written across the back in bright red. Her choice of white for the dress follows the history of American congresswomen wearing white in reference to the women’s suffrage movement. Though her outfit and presence at the Met Gala were criticized as hypocritical, her statement was to create conversation about supporting working people and families. Her gown did not fail to start important conversations, and online discourse is known to spark change. A true statement of American fashion!
Dan Levy exhibited the gala’s theme by celebrating “the resilience and the love and the joy” (Levy) of the LGBTQ+ community, and he also wanted to send a reminder that there is still work to be done. The inspiration for this outfit was drawn from American activist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz, whose work shed a harsh light on the abandonment the LGBTQ+ community experienced during the peak of the AIDS crisis. Levy said that the look was a superhero for the community and added, “And to me, that’s an America that I want to be a part of.”