Met Gala 2021: Tatler’s Top 10 Showstoppers (And What Inspired Their Looks)
New York City’s biggest fashion event has finally come. This year, stars line up on the carpet to celebrate modern American fashion and progressiveness. Tatler lists ten fashionable folks who stood out and gave justice to the theme
The Met Gala’s 2021 theme is “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”, a nod to American designers who have evolved through time and patterned their crafts with respect to social and political issues including climate change, body inclusivity, heterogeneity, and diversity. In an interview, Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in charge of the Costume Institute, said that Met Gala 2021 honours the modern world’s take on progressiveness.
“I’ve been really impressed by American designers’ responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and I’m just finding their work very, very self-reflective,” said Bolton. “I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a renaissance. I think young designers, in particular, are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers.”
In this article, the Tatler team has collated 10 outfits that brought life to the theme and honoured the evolution of American fashion.
After years of hiatus in the music and fashion scene, Lorde has once again graced the Met Gala carpet with her delicately embellished two-piece from Bode. The look was even made better with a jaw-dropping, fireworks-inspired headpiece reminiscent of her Kiwi roots.
In an interview just before she went off the carpet, Lorde explained that her outfit is made of “repurposed antiques”. The Solar Power singer also felt grateful for being in the star-studded event. “This feels more like the America that we know. To see all these beautiful people, all the new people going through, it’s the best.”
The last time Rihanna was seen on the Met Gala carpet was in 2018 where she was dubbed “Pope Rihanna” for wearing a beautiful, silver-studded mini dress with a belted train, jacket, mitre, and shining Christian Louboutin heels.
This year, the Barbadian star impressed the crowd with her impressive Balenciaga overcoat and a matching beanie. The outfit was designed by Demna Gvasalia whose inspiration for the black ruffles and voluminous scale are modern and classic American styles.
For this year’s ball, Timothée Chalamet walked on the carpet with a surprisingly simple look—an all-white ensemble by Haider Ackermann.
According to Ackermann, the look was inspired by the uptown and downtown fashions in America. “Whenever I visit America, I am always struck by the wonderful clash of uptown and downtown cultures, of music and sports, and all of this energy just mixing together,” the designer explained.
“I wanted to create something inspired by this energy—a fusion of street style and sleek tailoring, to create a more dynamic, deliberate silhouette, while still respecting the dress codes of the event.”
Actor and musician Troye Sivan has definitely embodied this year’s progressive and diverse theme with his long, minimal cut-out black dress paired with black platform heels and a Cartier diamond neckband. The Youth singer explained that this outfit is what comes to mind when he thinks of America.
“I think of leather,” he said pointing to the strap around his arm.
More from Tatler: 15 Best Statement Black Dresses At The Golden Globes
Since the early 2000s, reality star Kim Kardashian has always been the favourite subject of tabloids, paparazzi, and social media forums. But this year, she has broken the norm and attended the Met Ball in Balenciaga.
Wearing the all-black outfit is the closest she could get to anonymity. The bright and colourful demeanour she expressed through her attires in the past was suddenly washed off with an ensemble opposed to her typical style.
Kardashian and husband Kanye West (who she filed for divorce in February) occasionally wear head-covering pieces to promote the latter's new album Donda.
The ball was even made interesting by Grimes when she walked on the carpet donning an off-white sheer gown, adorned in silver zig-zag accents. “[The outfit] is inspired by the movie Dune, which is not out yet but I'm just a fan,” Grimes said. “It is an American author so it fits the theme that American people were involved in the making of it.”
Grimes topped the outfit with a silver metallic face mask (required for all guests invited to the venue) and a sword inspired by western European design from the end of the Middle Ages around 1400. “It’s created from a company that will melt down your automatic weapons and make a sword,” she explained.
Twenty-seven-year-old pop singer Justin Bieber walked on the Met Gala carpet wearing a sleek black tuxedo by La Maison Drew (an extension of the star’s Drew House label). He is also seen in a pair of painted sneakers, a nod to modern American fashion.
“I think as I become more of an adult, things just [started] to evolve and change. I’m married now so I think things just become more. . . adult now,” Bieber explained when asked about evolution and change.
Although the pop singer has had quite a reputation in the past, this polished look is his own spin on what fashion means to him in this day and age.
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X channelled Lady Gaga when he arrived in his three-piece outfit for the Met. For the first reveal, the Old Town Road singer wore an ornate cape covered in gold beading.
Shortly after his carpet show, the star removed it to reveal a golden armour. Lil Nas X’s third outfit was also grand—taking off the armour, he revealed a slinky bodysuit covered in crystals with Versace’s signature house print.
Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka stunned the crowd when she arrived wearing an outfit close to her heritage. She is seen in a custom Louis Vuitton corseted dress with colourful graphic jacquard. The outfit was topped with a silk-mix cape with 22 ruddles, 18 metres of leather satin, and a 50-meter silk hem.
The athlete explained that her whole look incorporates Koi fish designs to honour her Japanese hometown. “The first time I met Nicolas we spoke not only about me working with Louis Vuitton as a brand ambassador but also about how we could find ways to work together and even try and co-design,” she said.
British race car driver Lewis Hamilton was also at the Met event. He wore a custom Kenneth Nicholson suit with a lace calf-length shirt. The seven-time world champion was accompanied by four black designers.
In an interview, Hamilton said that he seeks to use his platform to promote designs by young black designers. “I’ve brought four incredible, young, Black talented designers,” he said. “So we’ve got a great host of people tonight, and it’s about just highlighting beauty and excellence and talent.”