It was a night of dread, white and blue.
Monday night’s Met Gala was meant to be a celebration of American style, highlighting everything from stalwarts like Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren to avant-gardists like Telfar and immigrants like Prabal Gurung who achieved their dreams in the good ol’ US of A.
The official theme was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”
But it seemed like the night’s creative director was 1980s wrestling heel Iron Sheik, who used to scream “Iran Number one. Russia Number one. USA haack ptooey” while simulating spitting on our great land.
What is usually fashion’s most glittering event instead had hypocritical socialist politicians, one in high-end duds that cost more than most families make in months, co-chairs wearing foreign designers and a guest list more interested in scoring intersectional points than style points.
Take, for example, 22-year-old non-binary actress Amandla Stenberg. On the red carpet, the star — who uses both she and they pronouns— said that she was surprised by the theme, considering that we are living through such “polarizing” times.
Her solution was to represent the black and queer community instead, as if they have separate passports to show at international airports.
But isn’t it wonderful to live in a country like America, where you can represent whatever identity you chose and not have to acknowledge the freedom that allows it? Surely the ladies in Afghanistan share her sentiments.
Of course, AOC turned up in an extravagant Brother Vellies dress that declared, in red letters, “Tax the Rich,” which is pretty ironic considering that, at $35,000, a ticket to the event could have been a down payment on a house in most parts of the country. She said she wanted to “enjoy” herself while also making a statement. The statement would actually have meant something had she worn her mom’s house dress and brought her plumber as a plus one.
Then there was Zac Posen, who dressed Debbie Harry in a tattered flag meant to represent, in part, the unraveling of our country. It was a stunning tribute given that we are just two days out from observing the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a horrific attack that tore into the heart of our country and this great city we call New York — also home to the American fashion industry.
It would have been moving to see a designer take, as their honored guest, the unknown offspring of someone who perished on that day. Thom Browne basically did that when he dressed Pete Davidson — whose firefighter father died on 9/11. But if Davidson wasn’t a celebrity, he wouldn’t have gotten a sartorial sniff.
The co-chairs, made up of youthful talent, mostly snubbed American designers. Timothée Chalamet mixed Converse and Rick Owens with the likes of Haider Ackermann, who is French. And both Naomi Osaka and Emma Chamberlain wore Louis Vuitton. There was lots of Valentino and Dior; Brit supermodel Cara Delevingne wore a Dior vest that read “Peg the patriarchy” — perhaps alluding to a popular genre on PornHub that most of us haven’t yet discovered.
But there were bright spots. Billie Eilish channeled American icon Marilyn Monroe in Oscar de la Renta. US Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman paired a reimagined Lady Liberty look by Vera Wang with a book-shaped clutch — emblazoned with the words “Give us your tired” — designed by NYC-based label Edie Parker. Ever the showman, Lil Nas X brought the drama with a golden three-layer concoction.
This party didn’t need to look like a hokey Fourth of July parade in Everytown, USA, with Lee Greenwood playing over the loudspeaker. It is the Met Gala, after all, and fashion should be daring, artful and interesting.
But this year’s red carpet and entire ethos was lacking in all three.
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