This is America: the best and worst of the Met Gala 2021

Jessica Sarrach ‘24, Lyonlife Editor-in-Chief

The Met Gala, hosted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the biggest yearly events in the fashion industry. This high profile event follows the most prominent designers and pop culture icons. This year, the Met Gala integrated both celebrities and influencers – people who gained fame from social media – to create a larger reach of fan bases for the event.

This year’s annual theme, titled, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”, was set to display how American fashion has evolved over time through political and social movements, as well as the belief that fashions future seems to be sparking from American designers and ideas. Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, in an interview with vogue said, “[I’ve] been really impressed by American designers’ responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and [I’m] just finding their work very, very self reflective. [I] really do believe America is undergoing a fashion renaissance.”  The goal of the year’s theme was to shine a light on progressive creators and the current fashion atmosphere in America.

This years event had many outstanding looks, as well as some that would have been better just staying on the hanger. Here are the five best and worst looks from the Met Gala 2021.

The Best

      5. Hunter Schafer in Prada  8/10

Actor Hunter Schafer took on a two piece silver look that was a part of Prada’s 1999 spring collection. Her look was set to reference the fashion of syfy and 90’s grunge styles. Schafer’s outfit was curated to show the American form of escapism into other realities, whether that be on the screen. or in outer space.

      4. Lil Nas X in Versace  9/10

For Lil Nas X’s first time attending the Met Gala, he wanted to make a statement. The rapper wore a three part look that left the crowd stunned. Nas X started the Met Gala in a cape fit for kings. The long cape had a golden sheen and matching delicate beading. Nas X next appeared in a golden suit of armor. The armor also had the Versace crest carved into its neckline. His third and final look was a crystal encrusted bodysuit that held Versace’s house print. He explains how the first outfit was to portray how when he first joined the music industry, he was stuck in his shell. He then breaks out of the shell into the armor, alluding to how he was joining the music industry from a low background without much opportunity. He finally ends in the body suit which was meant to symbolize how he “came out” as a member of  the LGBTQ+ community. 

      3. Normani in Valentino  9/10


Normani sported a giant mustard yellow ball gown during this year’s event. The dress had extravagant poofy sleeves with a deep and open neckline. Normani discussed how her dress this year had a beautiful contrast to her skin, and made her feel like a queen. This dress and the up and coming singer who wore it left the crowd in awe, including actress Kiki Palmer who complimented the celebrity on Vogue’s live stream during the event.

      2.  Gemma Chan in Prabal Gurung  9/10

Actress and model Gemma Chan showed up to the 2021 Met Gala with a look to kill. She wore a black mini dress with silver emblems and a lime green train. Prabal Gurung designed Chan’s dress to pay homage to Anna May Wong,  the first Chinese American film star during the Golden Age of Hollywood. When asked why Chan choose to honor Wong, she said, “Despite facing prejudice and stereotyping she fought back against the descrimination she faced in Hollywood.” 

  1. Iman in Harris Reed  10/10

This year, Iman stole the show in her Harris Reed couture outfit. Iman is an American actress and model who was chosen as Harris Reed’s muse for this year’s Met Gala. The model was dressed in a golden bustier top with matching trousers. The most stunning part of this outfit was the golden feathered headpiece along with the cage styled skirt. Designer Harris Reed took inspiration from the dramatically styled 18th century cage crinolines as well as the 1920s showgirl style clothing. Reed reflected the American theme by showing off different fashion trends through the ages. Iman and Reed’s collaborative piece stole the crowd with its golden look. 

The Worst

       5. Addison Rae in Tom Ford for Gucci  3/10

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Addison Rae attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Tik Tok star Addison Rae made her first ever appearance at the Met Gala this year. Many fans were left underwhelmed by her outfit, and some even questioned why a Tik Toker such as Rae was invited to such a prestigious fashion event. Rae was seen at the Met Gala wearing a red ribbed Gucci dress with a short, smooth red train. Many people had a problem with the simplicity of the red dress and its similarity to a christmas dress worn byKourtney Kardashian, one of Rae’s best friends. It was questioned if Rae was simply copying Kardashian, or whether she may have even been wearing the same dress. While the dresses were not the same, they came from the same 2003 Gucci line, which had already been heavily publicized at other celebrity events.

       4. Cara Delevingne in Maria Grazia Chiuri  3/10

Cara Delevingne’s Met Gala look sought controversy for more than one reason. Delevingne wore a white bullet proof vest which read “Peg the Patriarchy” and white dress pants. Many critics were displeased with the extremely vulgar language used on the vest, as well as its insinuation on sexually dominating acts against the patriarchy. Though, the biggest controversy around Delevingne’s outfit was about who should get credit for the vest’s phrase. Luna Montes, a Canadian citizen, had the phrase, “Peg the Patriarchy”, successfully trademarked in 2018. Montes is upset that she was neither consulted about the use of her coined phrase nor consulted by Chiuri or Delevingne.

       3. Justin Bieber in Drew House  2/10

For this year’s Met Gala, Justin Bieber chose to keep it simple. Sporting his own fashion label, Bieber wore a black suit jacket with loose flair suit pants and smiley face print tennis shoes. The goal of the look was to fit into American style leisure wear, but many felt this idea missed the mark for an extravagant event such as the Met Gala. 

  1. Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga 1/10

Kim Kardashian is known for her attention grabbing style and outfit choices. Her Met Gala look this year left many disappointed. Kardashian wore a dark black couture gown with a matching train and mask. This black mask was fully opaque and covered the entirety of her face, leaving Kardashian practically featureless. When asked about how her look related to the theme of American Independence and what the true meaning behind her outfit was, all Kardashian said was, “What’s more American than a T-shirt head to toe.”  

  1. Kim Petras in Collina Strada  1/10

Kim Petras came into the 2021 Met Gala wanting to make a statement, and she sure did. Petras wore a Collina Strada dress which showcased a unique pattern along with a 3D horse head bustier. When asked about her look, Petras said, “Okay, yes, [I] was a horse girl in my past life, and now [I’m] a fashion girl!” The abstract horse bustier had many critiques questioning the dress’s place in fashion. It’s clear that she was attempting to hit the American theme by showcasing a “horse girl” inspired look, but the results were a total flop. 

The fashion industry is always evolving and often welcomes creativity, even if the garments come off looking a little avant-garde. The Met Gala each year offers a chance to show off what designers and celebrities feel the future of fashion is all about, though sometimes it is clear that their “vision” misses the mark. Fashion is subjective, though not everything that can be worn should be considered fashionable, even if it comes from a top designer.

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