The Met Gala: how people did (or didn’t) conform to the prompt

More stories from Anjali Kota


This year, the gala saw a range of outfits, worn by both TikTok influencers and longtime celebrities, some that conformed to the prompt and some that didn’t.

When one is presented with the theme “In America: a Lexicon of Fashion” you would expect your typical stars and stripes. Yet only a few chose to go this route, and this Met we ended up seeing more bling than blue. This year, the gala saw a range of outfits, worn by both TikTok influencers and longtime celebrities, some that conformed to the prompt and some that didn’t.

While red, white and blue was the go-to for this theme, this prompt was rather open and could be interpreted in numerous ways.

American Patriotism:
One popular category in this theme was what I call American Patriotism, with Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman wearing a blue, flowing Vera Wang dress and Debbie Harry wearing a red-and-white jean-jacket hoop skirt combination designed by Zac Posen. Another popular attendee was Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart wearing a dress with each of the state flowers. One of my favorite looks from this category was worn by supermodel Iman, wearing a gold trouser headdress hoop skirt combination to symbolize American hope.

The Throwback genre:
My favorite category, the throwback category, references a certain time or person in American History with the fashion choice. Both Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi (wearing Dior) and model Anok Yai (wearing Oscar De La Renta) referenced American-born French entertainer and activist Josephine Baker, with Old Hollywood looks. Another popular couple who made it into the throwback genre were Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes with their throwback to the ’70s and Studio 54.

Another popular genre I noticed was the heritage genre. Rising model Quannah Chasinghorsel, (wearing a dress designed by Dundas) highlighted her indigenous heritage through turquoise and silver jewelry. Actress Gemma Chan paid homage to Anna May Wong (thought of as the first Chinese Hollywood star), through her black mini dress with an ancient Chinese dragon motif and updo. The dress was designed by Prabal Gurung, who recently put on a fashion show where all the models wore a sash labeled “Who Gets to be American?”

On the flip side, there were quite a few outfits that didn’t exactly conform to the prompt and instead favored the bling or the brand.

Two main people that stood out to me were Lil Nas X and Emma Chamberlain. Though I liked the looks put on these two a lot, they seemed to miss the prompt. I noticed that both Lil Nas X and Emma Chamberlain seemed to be more concerned with the bling of their outfits than staying on the theme.

Lil Nas X layered three different outfits to the gala which he executed by shedding each of the layers on the red carpet. Lil Nas X seemed more concerned with the extravagance than the topic. I think the look would have gone better with the Met Gala theme from 2018, Heavenly Bodies. Even the designer, Versace originated from Milan. Chamberlain’s outfit, though quite dazzling, also missed the mark because her outfit was designed by Louis Vuitton, a French company.

For the last category, I noticed that many didn’t pay attention to the theme and were more focused on the brand. For instance, actress Margaret Qualley said that she took inspiration from Chanel — yet Chanel is a French brand.

This year’s Met Gala saw many outfits, ones that did make sense with the prompt and ones that didn’t, but most importantly, it was remarkable to see so many people back in semi-normal life.