Oh Say, Can you Sew? Met Gala 2021 Goes American

The first Monday in May it is not; but the Met Gala has returned, and with it my on-theme opinions about who wore it best.

This year – well, last year, but let’s not dwell on pandemic angst – the theme of the slightly delayed Costume Institute’s exhibition and accompanying fundraising gala is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, an exploration of fashion in the United States.

As is now standard at the Met Gala, some in attendance mastered the theme, some shoe-horned themselves into it, and some didn’t get the memo at all.

Those who did get the gist of Anna Wintour’s wishes came bearing ensembles that told stories of American fashion, whether the designer at hand was American or not. Others showcased American fashion proper, with varying results, and the third group came dressed for a party without much more to offer to the narrative than thousands of Swarovski crystals, but that’s something.

With deference to the kids who did their homework, here are my top picks for ’21:

Amanda Gorman in Vera Wang wanted to represent a “re-envisioned Statue of Liberty.”

Maisie Williams in bespoke Reuben Selby and Cartier jewelry was inspired by The Matrix, which is an American movie I guess, so ok.

Janet Mock also adopted a looser interpretation of In America, drawing inspiration from Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge in Valentino.

Iman, in Dolce and Gabbana x Harris Reed, probably would’ve won the night even if this jaw-dissolving look didn’t carry with it a perfect representation of the night’s theme. Reed is a British-American designer who, as his website states, fights “for the beauty of fluidity.”

Timothee Chalamet in Haider Ackerman, Rick Owens, and Converse called this an homage to Chuck Taylor. I gathered on Twitter that not everyone agrees with me, but like Iman, he’s mixed American designers and influences with international designers for a look I think is new, interesting, and on-theme.

Adam and Monica Mosseri went local with their interpretations of In America, with their neighboring San Franciscan designer Kamperett creating Monica’s dress and BODE New York, which works with vintage and antique fabrics, Adam’s Tux.

Met Gala 2019: Because We Camp Camp Camp

This year’s Met Gala (actually the opening celebration for the Camp: Notes on Fashion Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) welcomed the extremely-invited-only to show off their best interpretations of ‘camp’ as it relates to fashion. As usual, this means there will be so many terrible interpretations on the red carpet, but also many that are great. Below are just a few of my favorites, given their own snarktastic awards (in keeping with the theme, of course.)

The I-Shoulda-Been-at-the- 2016-Met-Gala Award goes to:

Jourdan Dunn Zac Posen x GE Labs x ProtoLabs (with 3D printed flower petals) gown; Jacob & Co. Jewelry

Jourdan Dunn in a Zac Posen x GE Labs x ProtoLabs (with 3D printed flower petals) gown and Jacob & Co. Jewelry. Dunn looks amazing and the massive, glinting 3-D flower on her skirt surely fits the camp theme. But she would have ruled the day at the 2016 gala, themed Man x Machina and centered largely on man-made fabrics at its best moments.

The SJP Might Need to Move Slightly to the Left Award goes to

Lily Collins at the 2019 Met GalaLily Collins channeling her inner-most Priscilla Presley in Giambattista Valli and Cartier ‘Magnitude’ jewelry. Collins has shown up on my Met Gala wrap-lists before, and dare-I-say, she’s nailing it every time. Unless you’re readying to bow out, Sarah-Jessica, take note.

The Does She Know this was Ironic — We May Never Be Sure Award goes to


Joan Collins in Valentino Haute Couture, championing a truly lovely friendship between she and the design-house, according to her — but also embodying her former Dynasty character so much one can’t help but wonder: was she reprising a campy character, or arriving in what she felt most comfortable? Or both??

The Liberace-Liberated Award goes to

Ryan Murphy in Christian Siriano

Ryan Murphy, in Christian Siriano, hefted a 100-pound, orange, bejeweled cape and hood on to the red carpet — it was a direct nod to a Liberace costume (that, incidentally, weighed 200-pounds), but the effort alone deserves props.

The I-Do-NOT-Need Your Validation Award goes to

IMG_4205Lizzo in Marc Jacobs, who in my opinion, won the night… and the next morning, when she boarded a plane wearing the same ostrich-feather coat.

MET Madness

I feel like the media is taking more of an interest in the Haute Couture event of the year in New York, the MET Gala. That’s great, but many journos and bloggers seem to be missing the point. ‘MET Gala’ is short for Costume Institute Benefit  at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and as such the event is designed to push the boundaries of fashion and treat clothing as art.

An event after my own party-planning heart, the MET Gala also always has a theme, this year tied to the opening of the Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition.

There were a lot of interpretations of this theme on the red carpet, but I thought I’d throw my opinion into the ring because a lot of the ‘Best and Worst Dressed’ lists seem to be treating the gala as though it’s the Oscars. Some who brought the ‘punk’ theme home were lambasted for their wacky attire, while snoozefests who interpreted ‘punk’ as a slightly taller bouffant than usual were praised.

With that in mind, here are my theme-based picks for Best and Worst at the MET Gala this year:

Best Theme Hair

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Everyone’s been all over Miley for her spikes, but this is right on for a punk theme and a nice departure from the faux-hawk. I also heard she got flack for wearing a dress Kate Moss has worn publicly before… honestly, who cares remembers?  Honorable Mention: Ivanka Trump

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Best Theme Dress/outfit

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This one is proof I’m not choosing favorite actresses over favorite looks.

Best Theme Over-all LookScreen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.47.36 PMScreen Shot 2013-05-07 at 3.49.21 PM

Yes, SJP! She never shirks from a fashion dare, but this is so on-point for ‘Couture Punk.’ the Mohawk Hat alone could win Best Overall, but she’s also got some sick boots on. Honorable Mention: Madonna took any-old-thing out of her closet and still managed to smoke 99% of the crowd in the getting-dressed department.

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Worst Theme Hair

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What I hate about putting Elle Fanning in the worst hair category is that I love the dress – not the eyes, but the dress. The hair is just 11th grade Social Studies. Yawn.

Worst Theme Dress/outfit

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If the theme was ‘Vegetarian Space Princess’ I’d give it to her, but Gwyn is rocking little more than the ‘Live in Peace and Prosper’ look. Honorable Mention: J-Lo in the same dress she’s been wearing for 15 years.

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Worst Over-all Look

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What is this? She looks like she ripped a Renaissance painting off the wall and made a toga, then stopped off at Burger King for accessories. It’s an anachronistic trip through eighth grade history class. Honorable Mention: Renee Zellweger and anyone else who went balls to the wall boring.

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