Why the Met Gala hits differently in 2021

Post pandemic, it's given us a lot to think about.
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In 2020, award shows were out and staying at home was in. Celebrities filmed themselves TikToking in their mansions and proclaiming that “we’re all in this together”.

But a year later, with restrictions lifting around the world, red carpet glamour returned with a bang.

WATCH BELOW: The best looks from the 2019 Met Gala

Hot off the heels of the MTV VMAs, the 2021 Met Gala was held today (Monday evening local time) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

At its core, it’s a very fancy fundraiser for the museum’s Costume Institute attended by the world’s biggest stars from pop stars to models to political figures.

Every year has a different theme and this year’s was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” where guests are to “explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion.”

lil nas x
Lil Nas X stole the show with his three outfit changes. (Credit: Getty)

Of course, if we had to pick one red carpet the Met Gala one would have to be it.

Not only is the guest list more star-studded than the night sky, but it’s every fashionista’s dream. One minute there will be someone in a classic ballgown, the next someone is removing their cloak to reveal gold armour to reveal a bedazzled body suit a la Lil Nas X.

But after a year’s hiatus when we all struggled to cope through a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement spread from Minnesota to the world and the spotlight began to shine on people that aren’t cis, straight, white men, the Met Gala 2021 red carpet felt a little different.

“Across the country, women’s rights are under attack. I have long used fashion as a force for change.” (Credit: Instagram)

Whilst some celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Billie Eilish oozed old Hollywood glamour by paying tribute to icons including Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, others acknowledged that American fashion wouldn’t be what it is without some of the less celebrated figures, including women and immigrants.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney attended the event in a gown emblazoned with the phrase “Equal rights for women”.

“Across the country, women’s rights are under attack. I have long used fashion as a force for change,” she penned on Instagram.

“As the Met Costume Institute reopens w/ their inaugural exhibit celebrating American designers, I am calling for the certification of the ERA so women can be equal once and for all.”

Model Cara Delevingne shared a similar message of gender equality and women empowerment by wearing a white bulletproof vest that read “Peg the patriarchy”.

Model Cara Delevingne shared her message to “Peg the patriarchy” via fashion. (Credit: Getty)

Poet Amanda Gorman, who rose to fame at US President Joe Biden’s Inauguration earlier this year, came dressed as a high fashion nod to the Statue of Liberty.

The New York landmark features a famous poem written by Emma Lazarus about welcoming immigrants to the US, something Amanda wanted to express with her outfit.

“I wanted the energy and the spirit of my outfit to be about America welcoming people,” Amanda, who also served as one of the evening’s co-chairs said.

Meanwhile one of the gala’s best dressed guests had to be Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Dressed in a Brother Vellies white gown that was adorned with the words, “Tax the rich” in red, you couldn’t miss her message.

AOC worked closely with Brother Vellies designer Aurora James who started her fashion dream at a flea market in Brooklyn. What’s more, the New York Congresswoman had an all-BIPOC/women/LGBT+ glam squad team.

“When Aurora and I were first partnered, we really started having a conversation about what it means to be working class women of colour at The Met. We said we can’t just play along but we need to break the fourth wall and challenge some of the institutions,” she told Vogue.

“While the Met is known for its spectacle, we should have a conversation.”

“When Aurora and I were first partnered, we really started having a conversation about what it means to be working class women of colour at The Met.” (Credit: Instagram)

There was a time when red carpets were purely about gazing in wonder at celebrities and their glitzy outfits.

Whilst that love of escapism and glamour is still there, we’re realising there needs to be change. The pandemic and big socio-political movements of the last year have shifted our priorities and it’s time to focus on the big picture.

After going through so much, a pretty dress worth more than our house just won’t cut it anymore.

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