The Met Gala is affectionately called “the Oscar’s for fashion” and is known for having some of the most beautiful, handcrafted ensembles known to both the layman and high fashion connoisseurs alike. However, this year I was slightly disappointed. The Met’s theme this year was “American Independence,” but as a low-key fashion critic, well-versed in star-spangled kimonos and American designers, I have to say it fell short. 

The Met Gala is essentially the opening night and fundraiser for an annual costume exhibit for The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibit is curated by The Costume Institute, the museum’s fashion department, and is what the theme of the gala is based off of. Case in point, the gala is one of the biggest nights of the year for fashion. It was originally held the first Monday in May, but due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty of how bad things were going to be, the gala was postponed until Sept. 13. 

It was held at its usual place, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The theme was American couture because of the Anna Wintour Costume Center’s newest exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” 

The Met Gala has a history of extravagant outfits, so I was expecting a play on the ole-American blue jean, or maybe some Chucks made into heels. Basically anything short of a fancy BBQ grill-fest outfit spruced up for the red carpet would’ve gotten my fashion senses tingling. Instead, I was only impressed by a mere handful of outfits and confused by how far off other celebrities were from the dress code. 

Using Diet Prada as a main source of information, and multiple pictures of the Met Gala celebrity guests off Google Images, I have broken the collection of outfits into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. 

The Good 

Billie Eilish always knows how to make a statement, and her Met Gala ensemble was no different. She graced the red carpet in an Óscar de la Renta peach ball gown and Cartier jewels. She was styled after America’s sweetheart, Marilyn Monroe, and did so beautifully. Her blonde hair was done up in a curly retro bob, and she circled her eyes in dark eye shadow that paid homage the glamorous smoky days of old Hollywood. This look was very different from her usual bucket hat, green hair and baggy clothes outfits. In an interview with E!, she described how she is feeling more comfortable with herself after her latest album dropped with songs that represented vulnerable moments in her life. She used to never wear dresses and is now wearing ball gowns that flatter her figure, showing this newfound confidence. Marilyn Monroe would’ve been so proud of both the outfit and who was wearing it. 

Next, Gemma Chan showed up in a dragon-embroidered black sequined dress with a green train by Prabal Gurung. The whole outfit was a homage to Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American star of old Hollywood’s Golden Years. Designer Gurung held a fashion show in 2019 with models that wore sashes with the question “Who Gets to be American?” emblazoned on them. It was only appropriate for Chan to have Gurung design her Met Gala look. 

Gigi Hadid also looked stunning in an American 90s inspired dress made by Prada. It was minimalistic with a structured, white column-like silhouette and a split in the back that showed off black tights. She paired the dress with black gloves and a voluminous ponytail. The dress was minimalistic and showed how simple fashion used to be in the 90s in America.

Finally, we have Kim Kardashian’s extreme black full bodysuit look. The suit was made by Balenciaga, and Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s creative director, joined Kardashian wearing all black and a hood on the red carpet. Reminiscent of a Dementor from the world of Harry Potter, Kardashian’s outfit was supposed to express individuality and represent the internet. Even though no one could see Kardashian’s face or any discerning features, everyone knew it was still Kardashian under that outfit. Also, on a totally unrelated note, if you want to look like a Met Gala Kim Kardashian, her bodysuit is available in many stores as a Halloween costume.

The Bad 

First, we have Hailee Steinfeld wearing an Iris van Herpen white dress. Don’t get me wrong, I love van Herpen’s 3D style and nature influenced designs, but this dress had nothing to do with the Gala’s theme of American fashion. While Steinfeld did look very cool, maybe she should save the cyborg, coral reef look for Halloween. 

Two dresses that seemed very blah were Irina Shayk in Moschino and Lili Reinhart in Christian Siriano. The dresses both consisted of sheer corsets with trailing flowers. Normally that would look kinda cool, but again, it didn’t follow the theme. I really hope these two actresses matched dresses on purpose because they were too identical to be dressed like that by accident. Maybe they were planning on going to a homecoming dance afterwards.

Jennifer Lopez usually dresses so chic; I was disappointed to see her less than impressive Met Gala look. While her dress was made by Ralph Lauren, an American designer, it just looked too tacky to really count as an American look. The dress was a murky, swamp brown and she wore a feather boa, a huge metal choker and an Indiana Jones-like hat. She looked like she just got back from a bear hunt and somehow had time to make the bear’s hair into a gown. 

Finally, I thought Iman in her Dolce & Gabbana X Harris Reed dress looked silly. I feel slightly bad for rating the outfit poorly, especially since the huge circumference and gold gown took 400 hours to make. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. If she was planning on representing an American-made car steering wheel, maybe I would give her credit. I also don’t like how the dress is sectional and she’s wearing a gold pantsuit underneath it all. 

The Ugly 

Finally, the worst dressed person at the Gala had to have been New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who wore an ensemble that had trailing banners emblazoned with “Equal Rights for Women.” According to Diet Prada’s Instagram post, in 2001 the congresswoman dressed up in a burqa and praised the George W. Bush administration for the invasion of Afghanistan. After learning about this, her dress just seemed hypocritical and crass. 

I know I talked a lot of guff about the Met Gala, but at the end of the day it’s always fun to watch influential people flaunt their status in front of cameras in jewels and extravagant outfits. While I’m dying to walk the gala red carpet in Prada shoes and maybe even a Balenciaga bodysuit, the $30,000 entrance ticket leaves me, along with many others, living vicariously through our small phone screens.