Criticizing American Culture Through The Met Gala | Opinion
TThe 2021 Met Gala was held last week and this year’s theme was “American Independence” showcasing American fashion. I always love to watch the Met Gala fashion from the comfort of my bed in my sweatpants. I don’t have any credentials to criticize the appearance of the Met, but I think I have credit for criticizing the theme and its execution. Last year’s theme was “Camp,” so I had already missed that before this year’s mat started and, for me, this year was a bit of a letdown; however, I think there were subliminal themes that tied the night together.
First, there was more text than usual on the mat this year; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, wore a dress that said “tax the rich”, it was a bold statement to wear on one of the richest rugs in the world in America and was a stain on the interpretation of the theme. in my opinion if a bit cheesy fashion wise. Cara Delevingne wore something with text regarding patriarchy, which is still a bold statement but very appropriate to the theme.
Other people decided to pay homage to some classic Hollywood figures like Billie Eilish referring to Marilyn Monroe, model Anok Yai referring to Josephine Baker and Kendall Jenner with reference to Audrey Hepburn. I think these also match the theme best as it uses fashion as a form of retroactivity and respects legends from the past. These people have often shaped what we think of American fashion and the looks featured by the celebrities have brought the rug back to classic American elegance.
There were also plenty of queer voices and references at this year’s gala with influencer Nikkie de Jager referring to trans activist Marsha P. Johnson and her ‘don’t be careful’ phrase, French actress Isabelle Huppert apparently referring to the American drag queen Divine, and Dan Levy wearing a garment with two men in front of a world map. These statements were important as we move forward as a country to continue to fight for the equality of members of the LGBTQ community.
I’d also like to talk about Kim Kardashian’s all-black look at the Met Gala because I’ve seen him described as a portrayal of American media and how we didn’t need to see her face to know it was Kim Kardashian, we all just know his body. Much of American fashion is very body focused and not body positive, which I think we could all think about more. I think a good example of this concept is the sheer amount of dazzling jumpsuits and bodycon dresses we’ve seen on the rug this year.
Thinking back to this year’s carpet, I realize it was just that, a red carpet; which is not a bad thing as American fashion is often categorized based on what celebrities wear to awards shows and different red carpet events.
Never mind which looks I didn’t like because that doesn’t add anything to the conversation, but I will say that the men who wear a black tuxedo at the Met Gala, one of the biggest fashion rugs in the world, seriously boil my blood.
So while I think most of the looks were underwhelming, I don’t really have the credentials to criticize it, what I can do is see how their outfit relates to the theme in a broader way. Fashion is beautiful when it has references, is innovative and can be used as language.
The 2021 Met Gala showed us that America has work to do on the front of government, LGBTQ equality, and body positivity.