Health and Fitness

A star-spangled, star-studded night in New York

The United States is a relatively young country, and this year’s American fashioned-themed Met Gala seemed, in many ways, like a nod to that fact. The hosts were a Gen Z dream team: Amanda Gorman, the 23-year-old poet who performed at Joe Biden’s inauguration; Timothée Chalamet, the 25-year-old star of Dune; Naomi Osaka, the 23-year-old tennis champion and mental-health activist; and Billie Eilish, the 19-year-old music phenom.

This year’s gala was framed as part of New York’s re-emergence, along with the reopening of Broadway shows, indoor dining and the US Open. Still, many designers who live in Europe and usually make the trip did not attend, either because of quarantine rules or because they have to work on their own shows. Rumours swirled that some Hollywood stars also chose to sit this one out, perhaps because of health concerns or because of the fear that partying while people are sick is not the best look. And some regulars could not attend because they had not been vaccinated – a requirement for all guests.

The result was a more local, younger and sportier guest list than usual (also a smaller one, as it had been downsized by about one-third out of safety concerns). But the outfits were as eye-catching as always. The dress code was American Independence, in honour of the Costume Institute exhibition it celebrated, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.

Amanda Gorman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Met Gala 2021: Amanda Gorman, poet and co-chair of the gala, wore a bright blue dress designed by Vera Wang. She carried a clutch that looked like a book titled Give Us Your Tired
Ella Emhoff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Ella Emhoff, a model and step-daughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, wears an all-red Adidas by Stella McCartney look
Naomi Osaka at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Met Gala cochair Naomi Osaka, who became a brand ambassador for Louis Vuitton earlier this year, wore Louis Vuitton, in a look honoring her Hatian and Japanese heritage
Megan Rapinoe at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe wearing a patriotic Sergio Hudson suit and shirt
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), center, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York sent a message with her gown by Aurora James. The back of her dress was emblazoned with the words Tax the Rich in red
Grimes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Grimes in an optical-illusion gown by Iris van Herpen; at this point she was one of the only guests to wear a mask throughout her time on the carpet
TimothŽe Chalamet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Actor and heartthrob Timothée Chalamet arrived wearing Haider Ackermann after walking to the gala
Simone Biles at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Gymnast Simone Biles wore a 45kg gown, inspired by showgirls and in celebration of performance, by the design duo Area and Biles’s sponsor Athleta
Jennifer Lopez at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
JLo channelled the wild west while on the US east coast in a look by Ralph Lauren
Kim Kardashian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Kim Kardashian wrapped in all black, wearing Balenciaga
Lil Nas X arrived with not one, not two, but three shimmery gold looks. The singer started with an oversized cape, which he stripped off to reveal gold Versace armor, and then ended with an ornate jumpsuit
Billie Eilish went full princess with her Oscar de la Renta dress, which she wore on condition that the brand stop using fur. Photograph: Nina Westervelt/New York Times
Billie Eilish went full princess with her Oscar de la Renta dress, which she wore on condition that the brand stop using fur

The event kicked off with a high-energy performance by the Brooklyn United marching band dressed in red, white and blue custom Adidas jumpsuits by Stella McCartney, running up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum while the gymnast Nia Dennis performed acrobatics for the cameras. (McCartney sent the musicians in lieu of attending herself.)

Anna Wintour, the longtime maestro of the event, wore a floral gown with a ruffled neck in homage to her “dear friend Oscar de la Renta”, the designer who died in 2014. But she was the exception, rather than the rule, in a sea of predictably patriotic – and occasionally political – outfits. The congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, wore a white dress with “Tax the Rich” scrawled in red on the back.

Lorde at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Lorde in a soft embellished set by Emilie Bode
Kendall Jenner, left, and Gigi Hadid at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, each clad in gloved glamour, reached across the carpet to share a five-finger embrace
Barbadian singer Rihanna and US rapper A$AP Rocky arrive for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York. - This year's Met Gala has a distinctively youthful imprint, hosted by singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothee Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka, none of them older than 25. The 2021 theme is "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion." (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
Rihanna, swathed in a Balenciaga couture coat, with an embellished head piece and black beanie. Her boyfriend ASAP Rocky wore a quilt by emerging Venice Beach designer Eli Russell Linnetz
Anna Wintour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Anna Wintour, the big boss of the Met Gala (and global editorial director of Vogue) arrives in Oscar de la Renta
Justin and Hailey Bieber at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Justin Bieber and Hailey each clad in a classic look by Balenciaga
Zo‘ Kravitz at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Zoe Kravitz walked the beige carpet in a rhinestone, fishnet dress with a matching set of underwear peeking through
Billie Eilish at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Billie Eilish in her full-princess Oscar de la Renta dress, a departure from her normal red-carpet look of androgynous oversize matching sets
Serena Williams at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Serena Williams in a white-and-pink feather look by Gucci
Lupita Nyong'o at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Lupita Nyong’o made denim glamorous in a custom Versace gown
Kendall Jenner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Dripping in crystals, Kendall Jenner arrived in Givenchy
Michaela Coel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Calla Kessler/The New York Times)
Michaela Coel dazzled in a bedazzled deep blue dress
Precious Lee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Precious Lee, who has emerged as a top model of 2021, wore a crystal Area blazer dress
Kit Harington and Rose Leslie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Game of Thrones actors and IRL couple Kit Harington and Rose Leslie arrived wearing Saint Laurent and Oscar De La Renta respectively
Zac Posen and Debbie Harry at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, Sept. 13, 2021. (Nina Westervelt/The New York Times)
Debbie Harry, in a huge tattered American flag skirt, with designer Zac Posen

Other attendees opted for nostalgic allusions to old-Hollywood glamour and the American West. As celebrities walked the carpet, a substantial crowd of protesters gathered on a blocked-off Fifth Avenue to rally for racial justice. The police arrested some of those who were taking part in the demonstration and who had ignored warnings to clear the street. The result was the somewhat jarring image of shouting protesters being dragged away by police officers past onlookers who were pressed against metal barricades hoping to get a glimpse of celebrity glamour. (One of those celebrities was Chalamet, who walked partway to the Met wearing an almost-all-white ensemble that included a Haider Ackerman jacket, Rick Owens shirt and Converse high-tops.)

Many of the designers whose work is featured in the museum show were invited to the gala this year for the first time, hosted by more established brands because of the price of a ticket: $35,000 a seat. That’s steep for a small business (it’s steep by pretty much any measure), but the gala is the main source of funding for the Costume Institute, the only curatorial department of the Met required to finance its own operations.

Because of this, and to make up for a Met Gala-less 2020, the Costume Institute is going to hold another gala next May to celebrate part two of its American exhibition, which is intended to be even larger. If this evening was anything to go by, however, it may not be any more star-spangled. – This article originally appeared in The New York Times

Photographs by Nina Westervelt and Calla Kessler for the New York Times



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