Make It American: Met Gala 2021 Review

Lily Bertles '22

On September 13th, fashion’s biggest night, The Met Gala, took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts in New York City. As in previous years, celebrities were tasked with a dress code and ruthlessly judged by the public based on what they wore to the fashion-centric event. The theme was “American independence” in honor of the Costume Institute exhibit it celebrated, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” 


I look forward to the Met Gala every year and enjoy critiquing celebrities' fashion while I sit at home in my pajamas watching the Vogue livestream. I was excited when I heard what this year’s theme was, not because I’m super patriotic but because I love American culture. There are so many sources of inspiration that celebrities could pull from. Some of my favorite looks were from celebrities that channeled old Hollywood or that donned American staples like denim. Because I have so many opinions on this year’s Met Gala, which I followed more closely than in previous years, I feel inclined to share them. So, here’s a list of looks that stood out to me and what I like/dislike about them. 


Best Dressed: Star-Spangled and Stunning: Anok Yai in Oscar de La Renta








In all honesty, before I saw her in this stunning De La Renta dress, I had no idea who Anok Yai was, but she was one of the best dressed at the gala. Not only did she look amazing, but she understood the assignment. She emulated old Hollywood glam with her look inspired by Josephine Baker, a 1920s entertainer and civil rights activist. If I had to wear any of the looks from the 2021 Met Gala, it would definitely be this one that the Oscar de la Renta Instagram described as a “skimming celestial crystal gown." 


Pretty in Denim: Lupita Nyong'o in Versace


I’m OBSESSED with this look. Nyong’o is known for her style and she did not disappoint in this Versace denim gown with a crystal-adorned gorgette underskirt. Although Versace is an Italian brand, no fashion staple is more American than denim. 


Star of the Show: Billie Eilish in Oscar de La Renta 


All eyes were on Billie when she stepped out onto the white carpet wearing a massive light-pink de La Renta dress. She was the epitome of old Hollywood glamour, channeling the one and only Marilyn Monroe. This look was stunning, timeless, and one of the most memorable of the night. 

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls: Barbie Ferreira in Jonathan Simkhai 

The Euphoria star looked dazzling in this eye-catching pearl-encrusted Jonathan Simkhai gown. This look is clearly a nod to Old Hollywood glamour and Burlesque. Ferriera paired her  vintage-inspired dress with bold purple eye makeup similar to some of the looks she and her costars don on Euphoria. I absolutely loved this eccentric yet classic look. 


Worst Dressed: Football Fail; Ciara in Peter Dundas


Although on theme, Ciara’s dress inspired by her husband’s football jersey, was not the touchdown she intended it to be. Football is a huge part of American culture and it definitely makes sense for Ciara to dress like her famous football star husband, Russel Wilson, but this look is just so ugly. From the shoulder pads to the green sparkles this dress is just a plain no from me. 



Every Man who wore a plain black tuxedo to the MET GALA. Compared to women, the bar is so low for men when it comes to black-tie fashion, but please can we stop letting men get away with wearing boring generic black tuxedos to one of the biggest fashion events of the year? In my opinion these were the worst dressed celebrities because they completely lacked creativity and uniqueness. Met Gala looks are expected to be striking and standout, not generic and boring. There’s no point in even showing up at the Met Gala if you’re going to wear something as basic as a black tuxedo. The lack of effort is just so disappointing. Plain black tuxedos should not be seen on the white carpets of the Met. 

Controversial: Tik-tokers at the Met? Addison Rae in Gucci and Dixie D’Amelio in Valentino


It caused quite the stir when people heard that Addison Rae and her fellow tiktoker, Dixie D’Amelio would possibly be attending the Met Gala. I wouldn’t consider Addison or Dixie A-list celebrities but it doesn’t really bother me that they were invited. Addison wore a red Tom Ford for Gucci dress that - while flattering - was boring and has been done before. Fans pointed out that Addison’s dress was shockingly similar to a dress Kourtney Kardashian wore for Christmas in 2019. Dixie opted for a Audrey Hepburn inspired look, pairing a black satin mini dress and white gloves with an eccentric black feather hat. While her look wasn’t showstopping, I do think she looked good and followed the dress code well. 

Tone-Deaf or Effective political statement? AOC in Brother Vellies 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received equal praise and criticism for her Met Gala look. AOC was called out for wearing a dress that read,“tax the rich” at an event that cost $35,000 a ticket to attend. Personally, I like the statement that her dress made but understand why people may view her wearing it to the Met Gala as hypocritical. Fashion director of The New York Times, Vanessa Friedman wrote, “Just seems she might have wanted that money used for something other than an elite party ticket.” I’m all for criticizing politicians but I do think AOC made an effective statement by wearing a “tax the rich” dress to a charity event filled with wealthy Hollywood elites. In an Instagram story she wrote, “We all had a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it.” I think this was a clever callout and isn’t at all performative because AOC is a policy maker who is very vocal about taxes and has suggested in interviews that income above $10m may need to be taxed up to 70%.

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