Opinion: The Most Meaningful Looks Amidst a Meaningless Met Gala


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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City hosts one of the largest and most extravagant events of the year: The Met Gala.

The Met Gala is one of the world’s most exclusive invitationals, a party hosted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, at which in attendance are amongst the most powerful names in pop culture. The only look the public receives is the fashion displayed on the carpet upon arrival, making it the year’s most influential and awaited event for innovative looks and promotion for top designers. 

Being a critical time in both the designer and corresponding celebrities’ year to once again reinstate fashion as an art form and prove their legitimacy in the public eye, the theme lays the foundation for the elaborate attire. 

“American designers are at the forefront of conversations around diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, gender fluidity, and body positivity,” Met curator, Andrew Bolton, told Vogue. “The framework of the show enables us to focus on the younger designers who are engaging thoughtfully and deeply with those ideas.” 

While the theme left room for interpretation, the execution could not have been further from Bolton’s expectations with many celebrities straying away from it completely. Being a primarily lackluster display of innovative fashion, and a confusing plethora of interpretations of the theme, most of the looks were fairly meaningless. 

With that being said, it was easy to compile a list of the looks that were deserving of the most press, stirred up some interesting conversation, and could use a bit further explanation. 

Kendall Jenner

First, staying on the note of pop-culture icons, Kendall Jenner was perhaps one of the best dressed of the night with her Audrey Hepburn-inspired, sheer Givenchy dress. The dress featured a fully sheer bodice and flowing skirt, with amplified glamour from geometric crystals and silver star embroidery, rounded crystal shoulders attached to a fringed neckline, and sheer gloves, also covered in crystals. 

Unlike a majority of the looks displayed emulating icons, this one was an obvious tell if one is well-versed in classic films. Between the jewelry, sleeves, and gloves, it was immediately reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s iconic dress from the 1964 film “My Fair Lady.” 

Hepburn was a noted muse for designer Hubert de Givenchy himself, despite this gown being designed by creative director Matthew Williams. The sheer rendition of this dress felt very “Kendall-Esque” and seemed to channel Hepburn without copying the look directly. 

It is important to note that it still kept on-brand for Kendall with a flirty and modern feel but maintained the theme as it truly resembled the pattern of classic American fashion continually repeating itself, yet modernizing with every revival. With the exclusion of the shoes, Kendall stood at the top of the night and lived up to her 2019 Met Gala look. 

Nikkie de Jager

I knew I wanted to pay homage to a trans icon who was at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots… Marsha P. Johnson paved the way for so many of us, and I hope I made my community proud tonight.

— Nikkie de Jager

Another honorable mention who chose a similar interpretation of the theme, NikkieTutorials. Nikkie de Jager is a Dutch, transgender Youtube makeup guru, who graced the carpet channeling inspiration from activist Marsha Johnson.

She featured an aqua tulle, mermaid-style gown by Edwin Oudshoorn, with a bow that read Marsha’s famous quote “Pay it no mind.” The look also featured appliques and a matching crown made of 18 karat gold flowers, leaves, and buds created by goldsmith Digna Gorkovoi, combined with handmade silk flowers & beading, a nod to their upcoming collection ‘Thalassic’ in the form of “ear irons.”

Billie Eilish and Gigi Hadid

Singer Billie Eilish and Supermodel Gigi Hadid also amazed the press with their inspired ensembles. Although both received backlash about their minimalist displays, both were executed with elegance and classic silhouettes, the quintessential indication of classic American fashion. 

Eilish paid homage to both Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly in her décolleté-bearing peach gown, which came with a fitted bodice and lengthy tulle train that required the support of four helpers. Eilish had been known for her trademark oversized, unisex streetwear that has now transformed into an elegant, feminine appearance as displayed on the red carpet. 

The dress’ peach tint was up for debate, but this color has been a staple in Billie’s rebranding and the drama of the whole look compensates for it. 

Likewise, Gigi Hadid utilized the opportunity of the Met Gala to showcase her new red hair calling mind to cartoon character Jessica Rabbit alongside a simplistic gown. Hadid wore a white column gown with a thigh-high leg slit in the back and leather gloves for Prada, very well executed and a new look for Hadid.


Kim Kardashian

Possibly gaining the most press, backlash, and confusion on her Met Gala appearance is Kim Kardashian. Kardashian’s stark black Balenciaga haute couture gown with matching mask and train was unlike anything seen at the Met before. Kim had teased this look, and similar all-black ensembles a few days prior on Instagram as a promotion for her ex-husband, Kanye West’s, new album “Donda.” 

Balenciaga has been known for their cohesive black look, appearing at the Met with even other celebrities sporting a similar theme, such as Rihanna. There has been debate over whether these two factors are where the look’s inspiration stops, or if there is an unspoken message behind it as well. 


Some claim that this look was an attempt to give Kim Kardashian anonymity, however, even solely based on her silhouette nobody had trouble identifying her. The argument has been made that, unlike other stars who had to channel other American icons, she already was the face of American fashion. Kardashian, in a way, was respecting the theme simply by attending. 

She is the most talked-about person at one of the world’s most prestigious events, and nobody can even see her. Talk about an American fashion icon. 

Political Stances Through Art

Given the theme, and America being as controversial as ever, we saw many stars spreading political stances through their attire. David Levy, the co-creator and star of Schitt’s Creek, was invited by Cartier and wore a custom look by Johnathan Anderson. Anderson drew inspiration for Levy’s red-carpet creation from American artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz, whose work confronted the systematic oppression of LGBTQ+ members. 

Congresswoman Carolyn Bosher Maloney was also in attendance and wore a vibrant multicolored look that paid homage to the women’s rights movement. The message, “Equal rights for women,” was painted in all caps on her gown, and her coordinating clutch read, “ERA YES.” 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also sparked conversation; she collaborated with fashion designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies for a white gown with the phrase, “Tax the Rich,” sewn onto the back in bright red satin. 

Additionally, two men showed their contribution towards reducing the gap dividing clothing by gender by attending the event in dresses. After the controversy surrounding singer Harry Styles Vogue cover, where he is pictured in a dress, the trend of men in dresses and all other articles of clothing typically deemed as “feminine” has grown in popularity. Pete Davidson attended the event in a Thom Browne ensemble comprising a black dress worn underneath a white jacket, along with Troye Sivan in a black figure-hugging Rick Owens dress, the designer’s famed platform boots, and a diamond Cartier necklace. Celebrities like this are changing the conversation and making an important contribution towards fashion being portrayed as political displays.  

Final Word

Despite having a handful of diamonds in the rough, the majority of the Met Gala looks this year were rather meaningless and a tired attempt at new fashion. The loose adherence to the theme made this Met Gala highly confusing and definitely warranted some explanation for those looks displayed on the red carpet.. 

The Met Gala, being an extremely important event to continually reinstate the merit in fashion and prove clothing to be an art form, was overall done with poor execution. Inventive fashion has been a staple in American culture, so I hope that next year brings innovation and theme-based attire.