Left: Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage. Middle: Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue. Right: Photo by Nancy Rivera/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The 2021 Met Gala was a wild and chaotic spectacle

What was Frank Ocean doing with that creepy doll? Was J.LO inspired by Deadwood? Should the next Met Gala be Rihanna themed? We investigate.

by Carrie Wittmer
14 September 2021, 9:45am

Left: Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage. Middle: Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue. Right: Photo by Nancy Rivera/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

It is once again the first Monday of May. Oh, wait. Sorry. It is actually the second Monday of September. Regardless of the month, the Met Gala -- fashion's biggest night -- made its return yesterday for the first time since May 2019. At least two traditions stayed in place: the Met Gala occurred on a Monday, and there were a plethora of celebrities wearing looks that weren't really on theme. This year's theme was 'American Independence', a celebration of the Costume Institute's exhibit In America: A Lexicon of American Fashion with Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka, Amanda Gorman and Billie Eilish as co-chairs, alongside honorary chairs Anna Wintour, Tom Ford and Adam Mosseri. Once inside, guests were required to wear masks unless eating or drinking, and proof of vaccination was required for entry (which meant Nicki Minaj was out).

Although we civilians are better at interpreting themes, we are still not worthy of witnessing what happens inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on the night of the Met Gala save for what we see on Instagram, but we are at least allowed to watch the red carpet arrivals and see how strangely celebrities interpret the theme on the most expressive red carpet in existence. 

The 2021 Met Gala was, for lack of a better word, chaotic. Most celebrities in attendance did not understand the assignment. To find out if celebs showed up to the American Independence-themed Met Gala dressed as revolutionary war soldiers, in an Old Navy tee shirt with the American flag on it (a staple in American fashion), or as Annie Oakley, please read on for all the highs, lows, and mehs of the 2021 Met Gala.

Best interpretation of theme

Co-chair and poet Amanda Gorman went for a "reimagined Statue of Liberty" vibe in her look from Vera Wang. Amanda wore a long braid, diamonds on her face and a sparkly and saturated royal blue number. Amanda said that she wanted the event to celebrate the best thing about America: its diversity.

Co-chair and tennis player Naomi Osaka embraced her diverse background in a much different -- but equally iconic way. Naomi's Louis Vuitton look blended her Haitian and Japanese heritage. Amanda and Naomi leaned into the night's theme in a simple, elegant and personal way that stood out among the rest.

The other co-chairs

Co-chair Timothée Chalamet walked ten blocks to the event and showed up on the red carpet in a white turtleneck, cream joggers, a white tuxedo jacket and white converse (it was very Diane Keaton). Overall, the look was five-star restaurant sommelier who listens to Beastie Boys but is also a priest, which is not necessarily a complaint. Co-chair Billie Eilish wore a glamorous beige Oscar de la Renta gown that practically covered the stairs. Her hair and makeup were a clear homage to the Hollywood and American fashion icon Marilyn Monroe.

Most creative interpretation of the theme 

At first glance, Lil Nas X appeared to fail the assignment: he arrived in a gold cape reminiscent of a European king in the Middle Ages, which was removed to reveal gold armour, which was a little more C3P-O than American fashion. Then, like a Russian doll of Italian fashion, he removed the armour to reveal a fabulous embellished Versace bodysuit, reminiscent of 70s American glam in the vein of Halston and Prince. 

Most gothic outfit of the night

Game of Thrones (remember it?) star Maisie Williams showed up with zero eyebrows, sculpted pitch-black hair, and deep red lips in a black structured gown type-suit thing with mesh sleeves and mesh legs. It is my job to describe things, but I honestly don't know how to describe what's going on here. Perhaps this is a homage to vampires because Twilight is, after all, a cornerstone of American culture. She told E! it was inspired by The Matrix. Singer Olivia Rodrigo wore a similarly gothic look but with feathers and no hair sculpture. 

Most resembling Annie Oakley cosplay

I would never have guessed that Jennifer Lopez would be the first celebrity to bring the Deadwood aesthetic to the American fashion-themed Met Gala carpet, but I am also not very good at guessing things (I'm more of a facts person). If Jennifer Lopez (wearing Ralph Lauren) weren't so attractive and had she not been robbed of an Oscar for Hustlers, I would be really mad at her for this (and for flaunting her relationship with Ben Affleck on red carpets all over the globe).

Most hidden faces

You could not see Kim Kardashian or Demna Gvasalia’s face (who was wrongly assumed to be Kanye West), because both were completely covered by their Balenciaga outfits. I'm not sure what this look is saying about American Independence, to be honest. I'm trying to think of some intellectual reason why this looks exists and for this specific theme. Maybe it is some incredibly ironic commentary on American materialism and standards of beauty, but I am at a loss for words. Maybe it's a nod to the Scream franchise or Lady Gaga's red Alexander McQueen look from the 2009 VMAs? Maybe we'll find out one day. Maybe we won't.

Most esoteric interpretation of the theme

To quote Frank Ocean fan account @TeamFrankDaily: "Don't ask. We don't know." Frank himself cited "movie magic" as the inspiration behind it. 

Most Rihanna

The attendee that gave the most Rihanna this year was Rihanna. Just when we thought she wasn't going to make it, the 2018 Met Gala chair and newly-anointed billionaire (and the only one of those we like) blessed the red carpet in a theatrical and regal black gown, as she is wont to do, alongside A$AP Rocky. Rihanna was, and always is, the moment. The next Met Gala theme should be Rihanna.  

Met Gala