OPINION By JO EARLY
The 2021 Met Gala was held Sept. 13, with the theme of “American Independence” to mark the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion exhibition titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” As in years prior, celebrity attendees used their red carpet fashion to make a statement. Here are some of the night’s best, worst and most controversial looks.
Best: Nikkie de Jager in Edwin Oudshoorn Couture
YouTuber Nikkie de Jager’s beautiful tulle and floral look paid homage to the late transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was a leader in the Stonewall Riots, and the “P” in her name stood for “Pay it no mind,” the answer she would give when asked about her gender. Jager came out as transgender in January 2020, and later posted on Instagram about the look “Marsha P. Johnson paved the way for so many of us, and I hope I made my community proud tonight.”
Worst: Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga
Kim has reached such a mind-boggling level of fame that she’s recognizable even without being able to see any of her. While I respect her for taking masking so seriously, I have no idea what about this look was meant to say “America.”
Controversial: Representative Carolyn B. Maloney in Antonios Couture
This look isn’t controversial itself. Representative Maloney’s suffragette-inspired gown calls for the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, the first version of which was proposed in 1923. The look is controversial because this isn’t the first time Representative Maloney used clothing to make a statement. In 2001, following the Sept. 11 attacks, she donned a burqa to advocate for the invasion of Afghanistan, using feminism as an excuse to push an Islamophobic rhetoric, an action she still defends. Maybe her idea of feminism is also stuck in the suffragette era.
Best: CL in Alexander Wang
Korean rapper CL was able to pay homage to both Korea and America in her denim hanbok-inspired look. Denim is a fabric that feels distinctly American, and the gown is tied in the front with a knot called a goreum, usually seen on hanbok. Along with Blackpink’s Rose, CL’s appearance marked the first time female K-Pop stars attended the Gala.
Worst: Cara Delevinge in Dior
The model’s white outfit doesn’t have style or creativity, just a slogan. Luna Matatas, a queer person of color and independent artist, trademarked the phrase “Peg the Patriarchy” in 2017. I guess a white, wealthy woman appropriating a phrase from somebody less privileged than her to attempt to make a statement on feminism is appropriate to the American theme.
Controversial: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Brother Vellies
AOC faced severe criticism for this look by Brother Vellies founder Aurora James. AOC also faces severe criticism for appearing in magazines, drinking coffee, talking about her past, doing her job, not doing her job, being young, being Hispanic and being a woman. I agree with the criticisms calling the look performative, but not with the critiques about wearing it to the Met Gala, where tickets cost $35,000 to attend. Where else would she have worn it?