Met Gala ’22 highlights Gilded Age fashion

Míriam Sierra

The Met Gala returned on the first Monday of May for the first time since 2019. On May 2, a select group of A-list celebrities arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the most famous event in the fashion world.

This year’s Met Ball was part of a two-part exhibition following the same theme as the one celebrated in September 2021. While last year’s exhibition, titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” focused on honoring American designers and the social and political context that has impacted American fashion over its history, this year’s theme had a whole different approach.

The Costume Institute’s choice for the theme of this year’s gala was “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.”

The institute’s head curator, Andrew Bolton, expressed that “Anthology” offers a more specific approach to the theme than last year’s, especially since the focus was to mimic the fashion of the Gilded Age in New York City, according to Vogue.

The Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain, represents the time of prosperity and growth experienced between 1870 and 1890 as a direct cause of industrialization, especially in New York. The fashion of the time was characterized by excess. Ruffles, multiple different textiles and puffy dresses symbolized the economic prosperity of the upper classes of the time.

Actress Blake Lively, one of the co-chairs of the event, was the perfect example of what was to be expected of this year’s theme. She appeared on the red carpet with a copper gown custom-designed by Versace adorned with a huge bow on the right side.

The silhouette of the dress was reminiscent of Gilded Age glamor. When she ascended the museum stairs, she gave one of the most memorable moments of the night: a whole outfit transformation.

“I arrived copper and then like New York City classic architecture I patinated,” Lively said on the red carpet.

She went on to describe the rest of her gown’s details.

The  bodice simulated the art-deco nature of the most symbolic New York City buildings, like how the constellations from Grand Central Station’s ceiling were represented on the train, and overall, she was a human form of the Statue of Liberty — which arrived in New York City during the Gilded Age — as the draping and color of the dress imitated the statue.

Accompanying Lively as co-chairs were Ryan Reynolds, Regina King and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Anna Wintour, Adam Mosseri and Tom Ford continued as honorary co-chairs.

Billie Eilish was also one of the favorites of the night, receiving praise on social media. The singer wore a Gucci green and beige silk gown with a tight corset and green laced sleeves, referencing the Gala’s dress code.

Other celebrities who paid homage to this year’s theme and dress code included Sarah Jessica Parker, who honored Elisabeth Hobbs Keckley, the first Black female fashion designer in the White House.

Cardi B alluded to a gilded extravagance and Lizzo gave a flute performance on the red carpet.

However, the time of Gilded Glamour wasn’t welcoming to everyone.

Questlove told Emma Chamberlain, who hosted Vogue’s red-carpet livestream on

YouTube, that he wanted to represent “the African-Americans in this country,” as the Gilded era meant something completely different for their stories.

Another reference to Black history during the gilded age was Cynthia Erivo’s Louis Vuitton dress, which she adorned with a head wrap traditional of Black women’s history in Louisiana.

However, some controversial events also transpired during the evening. Kim Kardashian appeared at the Gala with Pete Davidson wearing Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress, which drew the ire of social media

“I have never been more upset at a met gala look. The fact that she wore one of the most important dresses in pop culture history feels so wrong. she looked gorgeous but the dress should’ve STAYED in the museum. it was there for a reason.” a Twitter user wrote.

In addition to that, users online were enraged by how Kardashian spoke about the strict diet she followed to fit into the dress.

“Kim Kardashian starving herself for 3 weeks and bleaching her hair for 14 hours to look that boring is a pretty great representation of mass beauty culture” another user tweeted.

As the Met Gala returns to being hosted annually on the first Monday of May, this year’s event has brought very impactful moments for pop culture history that will certainly be remembered, for better and worse.