According To The Met Gala Red Carpet, This Is What’s Important About American Fashion

It’s the second Monday in September, which, were it any other year, would mean nothing but a typical return to the 9-to-5 grind. In 2021, however, it’s fashion’s biggest night: the Met Gala. After 16 long months without bathroom photos and step selfies, not to mention the most extravagant of ensembles, the “Oscars of Fashion” are back for Anna Wintour’s in-list — or anyone who could afford an estimated $30,000 seat

Following the first in-person New York Fashion Week since February 2020, this year’s Met Gala is all about American fashion. Separated into two exhibitions — “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” — the Costume Institute at NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will attempt to tell America’s history through fashion and answer the question, “Who gets to be American?” But, what does that mean for the red carpet? Political and societal commentary obviously plays a heavy role in the sartorial choices of this year’s Met Gala attendees to varying degrees of effectiveness, as are looks borrowed from the archives of America’s most famous designers from the past, like Stephen Burrows, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta. We were most keen to see which contemporary designers would be represented and, in a way, canonized, like Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss, Prabal Gurung, and more. 

See all the most telling looks from the 2021 Met Gala red carpet, ahead.Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Aurora James wearing Brother Vellies

Louder for the people in the back, AOC! Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Chloe & Halle Bailey wearing Rodarte

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Jordan Alexander wearing Christopher John Rogers

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Precious Lee in Area

From the runways at NYFW to the steps of the Met, Precious Lee does it all — and she does it while wearing a roughly 80-pound crystal suit by Area. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.Valentina Sampaio

Serena Williams

Serena Williams serves on and off the court, as proven with this ombré feather look.

Megan Thee Stallion wearing Coach

Megan Thee Stallion looks like a Met Gala pro in this head-to-toe Coach ensemble, despite this being her first time attending. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Debbie Harry wearing Zac Posen

All-American blue jeans — but make it Met Gala appropriate. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Zoey Deutch

Is that Zoey Deutch or Cher circa 1972 by Bob Mackie? Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.

Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Balenciaga couture

An ode to renowned supermodel Grace Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross rocked an electric-blue Balenciaga couture coat-gown that’s an “expression of her inner self.”

Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.

Lil Nas X wearing Versace

For his third look of the night — his first was all about royalty, while his second was a suit of armor — Lil Nas X said on the red carpet that this sparkling Versace bodysuit was his answer to looking “sexy and slutty,” which, like, vibe. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Jennifer Hudson wearing EZ Factory

Let’s give some Respect to Jennifer Hudson’s red hot EZ Factory gown.

Kaia Gerber wearing Oscar de la Renta

For her Met Gala debut, supermodel Kaia Gerber worked with Oscar de la Renta to recreate Bianca Jagger’s 1981 Met Gala look by Halston.

Iman wearing Harris Reed

Supermodel Iman was a literal glowing ray of light in this custom Harris Reed gown and headpiece.Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.

Yara Shahidi wearing custom Dior

Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi dug into archive photos of Josephine Baker — someone she said she “so admires” — for this custom Dior look.

Naomi Osaka wearing Louis Vuitton

Co-chair and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka dressed for her work-family balance, allowing her older sister the opportunity to collaborate with Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière to create her Met Gala look, which combined her Haitian and Japanese heritage.

Billie Eilish wearing Oscar de la Renta

Billie Eilish continues her corset streak — which spans from custom Gucci bustiers on the cover of British Vogue and to more accessible styles by Instagram-favorite cult label Miaou — in this holiday Barbie-inspired tulle corset gown by Oscar de la Renta.Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.

Timothée Chalamet wearing Haider Ackermann

It’s the Converse Chuck Taylors — the American sneaker — on co-chair Timothée Chalamet for us. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Saweetie wearing Christian Cowan

Saweetie’s show-stopping train features two flags that she explained represent her and her America: the Black-American heritage flag and the Filipino flag.

Amanda Gorman wearing Vera Wang

Inauguration Day poet and Met Gala co-chair Amanda Gorman said it’s all in the details by carrying a “Give Me Your Tired” book bag, an homage to the poem on the Statue of Liberty. Photo by John Shearer/WireImage

Eva Chen wearing Christopher John Rogers

Instagram’s fashion boss Eva Chen is making 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Christopher John Rogers proud in this eye-catching ensemble. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Emma Chamberlain wearing Louis Vuitton

Emma Chamberlain is not messing around at her first Met Gala, where, of course, she chose to wear Louis Vuitton. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.

Keke Palmer wearing Sergio Hudson

Hosting the first Met Gala livestream at your first Met Gala requires one to dress the part — and Keke Palmer did just that (and more) in this high-neck-low-back gown. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.

Ilana Glazer wearing Aliétte

Keke Palmer’s livestream co-host, Broad City‘s Ilana Glazer, took a literal approach to American fashion for her Met Gala ensemble, wearing elevated camouflage (featuring feathers) by Aliétte. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney

As a longtime advocate in Congress of the effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, who better to wear an ode to the ERA on the Met Gala red carpet than Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Leon Bridges wearing Bode

Leon Bridges went home to Texas for this year’s Met Gala, donning a cowboy hat and fringe jacket by New York’s Emily Bode.Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.

Dan Levy wearing Loewe

Schitt’s Creek‘s Dan Levy, in collaboration with Loewe designer Jonathan Anderson, used the Met Gala to spread a message about marriage equality.

Julia Garner wearing Stella McCartney

Julia Garner dressed for the screen she stars on in this silver, naked-esque dress by Stella McCartney. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Ella Emhoff wearing Stella McCartney

The First Daughter of Bushwick has arrived at the Met Gala — and she’s wearing USA-red by Stella McCartney!

Maisie Williams wearing Reuben Selby

Maisie Williams is giving Helena Bonham Carter meets The Matrix vibes in this black high-low gown designed by her boyfriend Reuben Selby. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Evan Mock

Did Gossip Girl‘s Evan Mock, Kim Kardashian, and Kim Petras discuss their leather masks ahead of this week? If so, I need to see that group text.
Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.

Barbie Ferreira in Jonathan Simkhai

When the next big thing in Hollywood pays homage to Old Hollywood >>>Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

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