Met Gala 2022: Gilt, or Guilt?

Words by Rowan Davies

The first Monday in May calls for fashion’s most anticipated night; the Met Gala, aka the Oscars of fashion. Year after year Anna Wintour’s celebrity soiree proves to be the gaudiest, most notable event in popular culture, and this year it certainly proved to be… just okay. 

Accompanying the Costume Institute’s 2021 exhibit ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’, which explored modern creative input to American fashion, this year took an approach that displayed the historical timeline and evolution of American style titled ‘In America: An Anthology of Fashion’. To coincide with the exhibit’s historical narrative, guests were encouraged to attend in their best ‘gilded glamour’, celebrating the style of late-1800s New York where industrialisation and social change became a significant aspect of the American way of life. The nation saw a rise in wages, immigrant citizens, women in the workplace, and fashion accessibility. It was a time of sheer prosperity and flamboyancy, thus would be an appropriate time in history for a contemporary demographic to encapsulate for the exhibit opening. Some understood the assignment, some, unfortunately, did not. 

To say it was a successful red carpet would be completely delusional on my part, however, not all guests committed unforgivable sartorial crimes; many in fact displaying a collective sense of modern, gilded interpretation. The gothic style of the Victorian age creeped its way through to the steps of the Met when guests Maisie Williams, Vanessa Hudgens, Lenny Kravitz and Kate Moss showed up- Williams being a personal favourite of mine in a custom Thom Browne corset dress with a black pleated skirt and matching pleated off-the-shoulder jacket. Bella Hadid and Kate Moss alike decided to sport Burberry for the night, Hadid in an all-black corset dress with lace stockings and sheer wrap skirt and train. A cute choice, but scored no more than a 6/10, with the train letting her down. It’s the Met Gala, no one wants to see a train less than five metres. On the other end of the gothic spectrum, Kate Moss proved less abstract and more simplistic with her choice of a slim velour gown in black with button details, a subtle detail referencing traditional gilded age menswear. Tied together by a cumulative punch of black lace, leather, and structural silhouettes, each of them brought a unique individual perspective of classic Victorian goth style. 

It was a night where menswear decided to show up and show out (in some cases), pioneered by my personal favourite Evan Mock in custom Head of State. His interpretation of gilded menswear brought a contemporary flair that exuded a certain flamboyancy in his baby yellow moment. Mock’s choice of garment has cemented him as a fashion inspiration- please, hold on to your glam squad as long as you can Evan. In custom Miu Miu, Emma Corrin successfully separated herself from her standout role in The Crown and embraced individual queerness in a black tailored vest shirt with button details and shorts. With courtesy of jewellery from Cartier Corrin finalised the look with an oversized coat in cream and beige tartan, crowning herself a gilded goddess with the classic top hat. Taking a casual but a nonetheless storytelling approach to the steps of the Met, actor Riz Ahmed recognised the influence that immigrants of the gilded age had on the industrialisation of New York society. In custom Louis Vuitton, Ahmed sent a love letter to immigrant workers in a workwear inspired ensemble sporting a navy overshirt jacket and pairing trousers, fusing the final look with jewellery of traditional Islamic India and high boots. 

Despite the many fashion fails that I have had to refrain from bringing attention (that’s for a separate piece), not all attendees of the 2022 Met Gala were completely dismissal of the theme. Aside from offering modern visions of traditional gilded fashion, it was a pleasure to see alternative approaches that highlighted particular cultures that kept the gilded age golden. The night was truly a recognition and celebration of minorities who served as the backbone for the development of contemporary American society.