The highs and lows of the Met Gala

Betsy Jarosick, staff writer

The Met Gala is nothing if not a spectacle, and that certainly didn’t change this year, as the gala returned to its traditional date and size for the first time since 2019, according to Vogue. The gala, held each year by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, raises money for the museum’s Costume Institute and is attended by many of the most prominent figures in music, fashion, and Hollywood. 

At this year’s gala, the attendees struggled to remember that there was, in fact, a theme. Based on the current Met exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” the gala’s dress code, “Gilded Glamour, white-tie”, encouraged those in attendance to look back at the fashions of the Gilded Age, the period between 1870 and 1900, according to Vogue. For many guests, the word “gilded,” meaning to be covered with gold,–was key; the red carpet was studded with glittering, sequined dresses and distinctive shining jewelry.

This theme was taken the most literally by rapper Cardi B, who wore a Versace dress composed of approximately a mile of golden chains. Made of delicately thin, looping chains, and embellished with jewels and pendants, her dress was an ornate representation of an era defined by excesses. Even the smaller touches of her bold neckpiece and gloves composed entirely of golden chains draped upon each other and brought the outfit together. 

And, of course, no discussion of the gala would be complete without mentioning actress Blake Lively’s dress. Lively arrived in a bronze-toned dress covered in sequined details of geometric designs and garnished with a large, satin bow. However, on the stairs, a dramatic dress change revealed a teal, wrap-around skirt with faded patterns and dashes of the original bronze–not replacing, but enhancing the original dress. The dress clearly invoked the image and transformation of the Statue of Liberty, gifted to the United States during the Gilded Age. Lively said that the detailed patterns of the dress referenced the statue’s crown and reflected the images of New York City that emerged during the era. 

While several articles could be written about Lively’s dress alone, I’ll spare you the details to instead discuss some of the less well-advised fashion choices of the night. Many attendees simply ignored the theme, while others sought to follow it, but missed the mark.

One of these attendees was singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, who wore a green and gold Gucci gown to the event. The dress was clearly drawn from history, featuring a corset and skirt similar to the styles of the late nineteenth century, but was not as cohesive or successful as some of the other guests. The concept, a gilded-age silhouette with modern influences in the dress’s details, was clearly there, but the execution didn’t follow through. The skirt seemed oddly gathered, rather than intentionally shaped, and the pastel dress clashed with Eilish’s stark black hair and choker. Despite the clear attempts to reference past fashions, her dress ended up looking like a half-done, anachronistic costume piece.  

TikToker and actress Addison Rae Easterling’s outfit, a halter-necked dress covered in mirror fragments, also failed to live up to expectations. There was nothing wrong with her outfit, but it simply wasn’t Met Gala material—it was a beautiful dress, but the type of dress that could be worn to an award show, or even to a particular formal school dance. In contrast with many of the other, more extravagant looks of the night, Easterling’s dress, minimal jewelry, and lack of accessories made her outfit seem plain and unremarkable. 

This year’s Gala had its ups and downs, with a number of memorable looks, and some that failed to impress. So here’s to hoping that next year’s Gala, whatever the theme may be, brings just as many memorable moments and even more outstanding outfits.