Despite the horrendous attempts to cultivate aspects of consumerism, the American Dream and quintessential westernized fashion during last year’s Met Gala, Anna Wintour has chosen yet another American-centric theme.
The 2021 Met Gala was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” to accompany the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit of the same name. The “purpose” of the gala is to raise money for the museum’s costume institute, and it functions as a glamourized fundraiser of sorts. The 2022 exhibit continues to follow this Americanized look at fashion, being called “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” as if that sounds any different than last year.
Despite a cryptic name once again centered around American designers and themes, multiple outlets unmasked the beast and dubbed this year’s Met Gala one of “gilded glamour,” citing the Gilded Age of New York to be the main inspirations.
The Gilded Age was the height of luxury and extravagance. New York was known for its stunning architecture and mansions with both the Metropolitan Opera House and the Vanderbilt home being constructed during this period. These public displays of wealth also came with opulence in other forms, like fashion.
So, with a theme of excessive affluence in mind, what does this mean for the fashion at the 2022 Met Gala?
First and foremost, I think this Met Gala will see a good amount of theme followers. Despite past attempts at camp and replicating Rei Kawakubo, this year’s fundraiser might follow closer to the lines of the 2018 Met Gala, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, with celebrities wearing extravagantly gorgeous on-theme looks.
Met Galas in the past have had one issue in my mind: not letting celebs look pretty! I don’t expect Karlie Kloss to understand camp, or that a gold mini dress isn’t it, however I do expect her to put on a lovely little Gilded age dress and prance around the red carpet. “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” will allow attendees to dress as a late 1800s dream, and they’ll look pretty while doing it — something that drives most Met Gala fashion.
With this in mind, I also expect to see a gaggle of straight male celebrities wearing black suits that are slightly on theme in one way or another. Maybe they will have a puffed collar or a top hat to argue that they too fully embody the Gilded age. Maybe Shawn Mendes will put gold in his hair again and claim that it encapsulates the absurdist displays of wealth in the period. Most likely, there will be multiple black suits with no personality, and I won’t be surprised to see them there.
On the other side of the fashion spectrum, I think this year's Met will also bring a lot of people who think they’re on theme. The Netflix series “Bridgerton” had its second season air in late March and despite its own historical costuming inaccuracy, the fashion is based on the Regency Era in England. The Regency Era falls prior to the Gilded Age and also is based centrally in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The fashion is staggeringly different in these two time periods, with the Regency Era sticking to an empire waist silhouette, while the Gilded Age has more corseted looks. However, I anticipate a few “Bridgerton inspired” outfits on the carpet this year, even if they’re not actually on theme.
My last, and favorite, prediction is surrounding the political fashion we will see at this Met. I am most excited for guests that may return, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who wore a “tax the rich” dress at the 2021 Met Gala. Personally, I don’t think politicized fashion at an event that is exclusive to the top 1% of the top 1% is particularly nuanced or important. I do, however, find it a bit silly. This year, I’m hoping for someone to make an activism fashion look out of 100% solid gold to highlight the wealth inequality during the Gilded Age, while the outfit is also custom designer, and the celebrity is also absolutely so rich.
This year’s Met is sure to bring some interesting looks, and I’m simply most excited to see who gets it wrong. If it’s anything like Met Galas of the past, it will be most attendees misinterpreting the theme — and I’m thrilled to watch them do it.
Curren Gauss (she/her) is a junior majoring in English with a minor in playwriting. She hopes to someday have a job.