Lupita Nyong'o at the 2021 Met Gala. (Getty Images)

Arts and Entertainment

Monday at the Met: Notable interpretations of ‘American Independence’ through fashion

Varying interpretations of “American Independence” were spelled out in fabric on Monday at one of the most monumental annual events in the fashion world. It has been two years since the last Met Gala in 2019 and with all that has happened since, a Gala theme that allows us to reckon with our American identities…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/ceshch03/" target="_self">Celine Choi</a>

Celine Choi

September 16, 2021

Varying interpretations of “American Independence” were spelled out in fabric on Monday at one of the most monumental annual events in the fashion world. It has been two years since the last Met Gala in 2019 and with all that has happened since, a Gala theme that allows us to reckon with our American identities seems quite fitting. 

Some drew inspiration from the linings of America: its history. Leon Bridges and Jennifer Lopez bring the couture in cowboy. Leon Bridges sported a Bode suede denim blue fringe jacket while Jennifer Lopez was in brown, earth toned faux fur head to toe.

Ben Platt and Lupita Nyong’o were in ensembles of none other than All-American denim are Ben Platt in Christian Cowan and Lupita Nyong’o in Versace.

Met Gala co-chair and the youngest inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, makes her debut in a deep blue bedazzled Vera Wang gown and a book-shaped clutch with the words “Give US Your Tired,” alluding to the Statue of Liberty and to Emma Lazarus’ poem at the base of the statue.

Naomi Osaka represents her Haitian and Japanese identity in her powerful Louis Vuitton gown as a reflection of the diverse cultures that define America.

Other homages were made to Hollywood’s most iconic such as Marylin Monroe through co- chair Billie Eilish’s voluminous nude pink Oscar de la Renta ball gown which she agreed to wear on the major condition they stop selling fur. And Gemma Chan paid homage to the First Chinese-American Hollywood Star, Anna May Wong, through a dragon emblazoned black mini dress complete with a mint green train designed by Nepalese-American designer, Prabal Gurung.

Other Gala guests took from the threads of the present state of our country by using fashion to make statements about their political and social standings. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was dressed by Aurora James of Brother Vellies, a “sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer” as AOC explained on her Instagram. She wears a white mermaid, off-the-shoulder gown with the words, “Tax the Rich” scrawled on the back in bright red satin.

Cara Delevigne also makes a statement with red and white as she wears an armor-like vest with the phrase, “Peg the Patriarchy,” written across her chest.

Dan Levy, best known for his role in “Schitt’s Creek,” makes both a fashion and political statement with his custom suit from Jonathan Anderson. From sequence, to drawstring puff sleeves, finished with a classic button up collar, the art on the front of Levy’s suit is from two pieces by David Wojnarowicz, an openly queer artist and activist who died of AIDS in 1992. The image illustrates two men kissing with a map of the world wrapped around the entire outfit.

“We wanted to make something that allows him to make queer love cisible and we found that thorough the seminal works of David Wojnarowicz,” Anderson told Vanity Fair.

U.S. women’s soccer player and internationally renowned athlete Megan Rapinoe dressed in a patriotic red, white, and blue is also known for her activism for the LGBTQ community. She continues her advocacy on the red carpet with a clutch that displays the phrase, “In gay we trust,” a play on the words of the United States national motto, “In God we trust.”

The interpretation of the Met Gala theme was not only for the attendees. A single scroll through the comment section of any Met Gala related Instagram post or just opening Twitter will reveal conversation after conversation, thread after thread on the different opinions on the statements made at Monday’s Met Gala and the theme of American Independence as a whole.

Even Kim Kardashians Balenciaga full-body morphsuit leads to various analyses of what the social media mogul’s message was. Is she asserting how iconic she is to American pop culture to the point that even just her silhouette is identifiable just as it is for Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley? Or is a statement of self-reflection as her fame blossomed from an era of media and influencers? Perhaps it is a statement on the objectification of many celebrities as she tries to show that she is more than just a silhouette.

Though not as near extravagant as the iconic 2019 Camp Met Gala, the various takes on what “American Independence” means to each individual attendee and how they express it through the art of fashion has painted a thoughtful image of our country.