After the pandemic shut down fashion's biggest night in 2020, the Met Gala came back on Monday night — albeit a smaller event than years past, and postponed from its typical May date.
Coming off the end of New York Fashion Week, the gala marked the opening of "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," this year's exhibition by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show, the first of two installations at the Met celebrating American fashion, opens to the public on Sept. 18 and coincides with the institute's 75th anniversary.
The soiree has been a welcome celebration for the fashion industry, after the pandemic wreaked havoc on companies' finances and shuttered important money-making events like in-person fashion shows. To mark the occasion, the fashion, film, television and sports worlds showed up in their best interpretations of the event's formal dress code: "American Independence." Among those walking the red carpet were the event's co-hosts, some of the most recognizable stars today: Billie Eilish, Naomi Osaka, Timothée Chalamet and Amanda Gorman.
The fashion was not without statements. Here are some of the celebrities who sought to make a point with their looks:
Eilish uncharacteristically appeared in an Oscar de la Renta ball gown — with conditions. At her urging, the brand will stop all fur sales, The New York Times reports (Eilish is a vegan and animal rights activist).
For Osaka, "American Independence" meant honoring her Haitian and Japanese heritage. Osaka's sister, Mari, helped design the dress, including its Koi fish-inspired print. Mari tells Vogue, "It's a celebration of cultures, like America itself, a melting pot of so many special and unique elements."
To comply with COVID-19 safety protocols, all attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination, submit a negative rapid PCR test result before the event and remain masked except when eating or drinking. That ruled out some high-profile folks from attending — including Nicki Minaj, who tweeted that if she gets vaccinated, "it won't [be] for the Met. It'll be once I feel I've done enough research." (The research is in — and the vaccines are powerfully protective.)
Next year's gala is scheduled to happen right on time — May 2, 2022, to mark the May 5 opening of the second Met installation about American fashion, titled In America: An Anthology of Fashion. For now, here are some of our favorite looks from this evening, as well as answers to that age-old question: Who are they wearing?
NPR reporter Rachel Treisman contributed to this story.
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Natalie Escobar is an assistant editor on the Code Switch team, where she edits the blog and newsletter, runs the social media accounts and leads audience engagement. Before coming to NPR in 2020, Escobar was an assistant editor and editorial fellow at The Atlantic, where she covered family life and education. She also was a ProPublica emerging reporter fellow, where she helped their Illinois bureau do experimental audience engagement through theater workshops. (Really!)
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