Assignment (Sort of) Understood – Who Wore What to the 2022 Met Gala

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The Met Gala, otherwise known as the “The Super Bowl of Fashion”, has returned — and there are a few contenders for MVP. After 2020 saw the cancellation of the highly anticipated fashion event, and 2021 saw it on a delayed scheduled in September, the ‘First Monday in May’ finally has its day. Previous incarnations of the Met Gala have toured the fashion of China, the delights of camp, and variously the influence of technology and religion on fashion. This time, the theme looks inward, with a homegrown exhibition titled In America: An Anthology of Fashion. The annual exhibition kicked off with a star-studded parade of celebrities dressed according to the invitation’s “Gilded Glamour and White Tie” theme.

“Gilded Glamour” refers to the Gilded Age period between 1850 and 1900 in America. It was a time of economic prosperity the world had never seen before, leading to empires spawned by still-famous family names like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Carnegies.  During that time the country’s population tripled, production of exports skyrocketed, and the wealthy expanded westward with railroads and skywards with haughty building structures.

America was teeming with millionaires during the Gilded Age, 40,000 of them to be exact. What to do with all their newfound riches? With appearance denoting status as it never had previously, the Gilded Age spawned America’s obsession with fashion and style, which hasn’t abated since. In acts of extreme self-indulgence, the nouveau riche spent their money trying to outdo each other with lavish houses, which played host to even more lavish parties featuring wild displays of wealth. The most famous party of them all belonged to Alva Vanderbilt. It cost a staggering USD 250,000 (which is north of USD seven million dollars by today’s standards) and was held at her newly-finished 5th Avenue home, Petit Chateau. One of the most famous looks at the soirée of the century was worn by Alice Vanderbilt. It was dubbed the “Electric Light” dress – a gold and silver filigree gown designed by Charles Frederick Worth. It featured a functioning light bulb that she held aloft above her head like the Statue of Liberty in a now-famous pre-red carpet photo.

It may seem like an odd choice for a theme given the massive disparity between America’s uber-wealthy and low-income population, and the rising inflation that has made food, gas, and other necessities more than double their previous cost. However, as far as a fashion theme, it was an ideal foundation on which to build iconic looks. Some of the guests interpreted “Gilded Glamour” as being anything gold or sparkly, but many of them missed the Gilded Age mark. Met Gala themes aren’t rigid, but even broad interpretations made it seem like some guests were dressed for a different event altogether.

In the gilded category, we saw dazzling spectacles such as Kim Kardashian‘s homage to Marilyn Monroe in her legendary Bob Mackie dress (which would have had Agnes van Rhijn declaring a scandal), event co-chair Blake Lively swaddled in wraparound bronze (a transitional piece that was later removed to reveal a stunning gown), and Cardi B in coin-and-chain adorned Versace. More to theme, we were treated to Billie Eilish‘s rendition of 1870s glamour, Gemma Chan‘s fringed lampshade gown, and more.

See all of the best 2022 Met Gala red (or shall we say pink ) carpet looks in the gallery below.

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