The Met Gala returned last night with its usual explosion of sequins, sparkles and old school razzle dazzle, as 600 of Anna Wintour’s nearest and dearest descended on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for fashion’s annual big night out.
While 2021’s event had celebrated the first instalment of a two-part exhibition at the museum with a theme of In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, last night’s had centred on the latter half — In America: An Anthology of Fashion, with a gilded glamour dress code that specified white tie in small print on the invite.
The theme referred to the Gilded Age of America, a term coined by Mark Twain in 1873 referring to the period from 1870 to 1890 when America went through a period of unprecedented industrialisation, increasing prosperity and sociocultural change. Some guests, like Alicia Keys, nodded to the skyscrapers that shot up in New York overnight; others referenced dress of the period with corsets and bustles; and a few, like actor and musician Riz Ahmed, even pushed back on the theme entirely with a look that paid homage to the exploited immigrant workers who facilitated the period of enormous economic change. The majority, however, took the theme more literally: Amber Valletta, Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion shimmered in spectacular golden starlet style.
From the looks to an extraordinary tribute to Rihanna, this is your Met Gala briefing.
Among the first to arrive at the 13-foot Metropolitan Museum of Art steps were event co-hosts Blake Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds. The former served a healthy dose of quintessential Met Gala drama in a copper strapless Versace gown with giant bustle bow and matching gloves, before being aided by a team of three helpers who peeled away the top layer of satin transforming her from glowing orange to bright turquoise. This was Lively’s ode to the Statue of Liberty, which was unveiled in New York in 1886.
Donatella Versace was also the brains behind another of the evening’s most dramatic arrivals. Cardi B made a characteristically outlandish entrance, not only dripping in golden Versace but emerging from a Versace Barocco print-wrapped convertible. The rapper, accompanied by Donatella, wore a high voltage take on the gilded theme in a custom Atelier Versace gown bedecked in a kilometre of golden chains and the brand’s signature Medusa head medallions which took 20 Versace craftspeople over 1,300 hours to complete.
Designers and their muses
Other designers hit the red carpet with their muses — including Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, who gave Glenn Close a spin in her electric pink floral embroidered cape, and Moschino’s Jeremy Scott, who brought Iris Law to experience her first Met. Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele went the extra mile, arriving with brand muse Jared Leto dressed in the exact same look: a double-breasted cream suit with floral embroidery, gold beads and pearls, worn with an evening shirt, suede boots, pink satin bowtie and suede Gucci Blondie bag. This was inspired, said the brand, “by mid-19th century optical illusions that reshaped reality”.
Corsets, corsets everywhere
Several celebrities interpreted the theme by zooming in on corsets. Billie Eilish looked every inch the 19th century portrait as she posed up a storm in her custom Gucci lace and satin frock, while Gigi Hadid rocked a Versace red latex jumpsuit with a boned corset and a giant matching puffer jacket-cum-cape. Models of the moment Paloma Elsesser and Precious Lee also got the memo: the former in a sexy corseted white Coach look, the latter in a sheer black Altuzarra gown with black corset top and a mermaid train adorned with 10,000 paillette sequins. Lenny Kravitz — of course — wore a corseted sheer black lace top with black leather trousers and a flowing lace cape.
The Burberry Brit pack
Bella Hadid also hit the red carpet in a bondage-inspired black Burberry corset dress with a high leg slit and flowing lace train, a seductive — if loose — interpretation of the theme. She joined a Brit pack who took their seats at the Burberry table with creative director Riccardo Tisci: including not one but two Mosses. Kate looked effortless in an off-the-shoulder black velvet tuxedo-inspired dress, and brought her daughter Lila to her first Met (just a week after scoring her first Vogue cover). Mini Moss sparkled in a crystal-encrusted nude mesh dress and nude bodysuit.
Joining them was Naomi Campbell who arrived with her face encrusted in gems — very Glastonbury — and a black frock with the Burberry horse logo splashed across in diamantes. She accessorised with a Jacob & Co necklace featuring 37 round brilliant cut natural fancy yellow diamonds, that cost a casual $6.6 million (£5.3 million). Festival attire that was not. Irina Shayk rocked head-to-toe black Burberry biker leather, while Nicki Minaj accessorised her front split, frothy black Burberry tulle dress with a leather cap and trousers. But it was Stormzy who blinded us with his grace in a crisp white Burberry suit with a white tie and white floor-length cape.
Kim K does Marilyn
With newly bleached blonde locks, Kim Kardashian arrived for her ninth Met Gala with boyfriend Pete Davidson wearing the actual dress Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F Kennedy in 1962. She had lost 16lbs to fit into the nude, sparkling gown; a piece of fashion history made by the costume designer Jean Louis and on loan from a museum in Florida. The dress features over 6,000 crystals and sold at auction in 2016 for a record $4.6 million (£3.7 million) — no wonder Kardashian changed into a replica before she sat to dinner.
Perry tones it down
Much to the dismay of Instagram, Katy Perry — renowned for her avant-garde interpretations of Met themes (see: the chandelier dress from 2019) — decided to tone it down this year in an Oscar de la Renta black bustle frock. “It would be pretty obvious for me to go play the kooky, crazy, wild, big, fun, colourful card,” Perry told Page Six last month. “This time, I’m going to play a whole different card.” If we said we didn’t miss the chance to see her shuffle up the steps dressed as a lightbulb (an invention of the Golden Age), we’d be fibbing.
The people we missed
There were several of the event’s most famously fabulous dressers missing. Met queen Rihanna — who has shut down the red carpet time and again with iconic moments like her huge, yellow Guo Pei three-metre-long train in 2015 and papal look in 2018 — was absent as she’s (very) pregnant with her first child. She still stole the show in absentia, though, thanks to a marble statue the Met erected of her in full pregnancy bloom. “Shut down the Met in marble! What’s more gilded than that?” asked the singer on her Instagram. Well, quite. Also absent was snappy dresser Timothée Chalamet — who has in previous years turned up as a knight in chainmail — and his Dune co-star Zendaya. Beyoncé also skipped proceedings, as did Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. It would have been their first public appearance since getting engaged, so they must be waiting for something.
The couple moments
Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz did, however, make their first public appearance since their nuptials last month. Both wore Valentino, the brand behind Peltz’s wedding dress — Beckham in a soft pink suit and sneakers and Peltz a flowing, chiffon gown in pink. Also smashing couple dressing were Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, who is pregnant with their second child, who both looked striking in Louis Vuitton. Jonas stepped outside the traditional in a white tux jacket with lace skirt-cum-coattail, while Turner was classic in a studded black gown.
And though it was not directly in line with the 1800s theme, talk of glamour prompted the revival of Old Hollywood glitz yesterday. From Daisy Edgar-Jones in a disco ball, crystal fringe flapper dress by Oscar de la Renta, to Kaia Gerber in a 20s style, drop waist dress by Alexander McQueen, it was a night defined by sophisticated, and – somewhat surprisingly for the Met Gala – restrained dressing. And the guests have not looked better.
Scroll the gallery above for the best Met Gala looks 2022