For cinema lovers, “Christmas,” intended as the most beautiful and awaited moment of the year, is the Oscar ceremony. For sports lovers, it happens with the different competitions at the national and international level (see the recent enthusiasm experienced with the Olympics and, for us Italians, with the victory at the European Football Championships). For fashion enthusiasts, “Christmas,” instead, falls in May, on that first Monday of the month, when the spotlights are on the staircase and the interiors of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York for a specific occasion: the Met Gala.
The Met Gala, also known as the Costume Institute Gala, is a dinner party, a fantastic event held annually since 1948 to raise funds for the MET Museum’s Costume Institute. That happens to celebrate the opening of the annual fashion exhibition of the Costume Institute, dedicated to a specific theme, to which the dress code of the Gala itself is also dedicated. Over the years, we have witnessed robotic looks, declinations of the concept of extravagance, tributes to the most important designers of all time, and oriental fashion in a parade of guests and high fashion creations that make this red carpet the most-awaited and talked about of the season. The waiting list of celebrities is endless, and guests are personally selected by Anna Wintour. To be present, therefore, is not obvious at all.
After the first part of this “special edition“, which took place in September 2021, are you ready to return to the world of “American Fashion Extravaganza” but with an extra glamorous touch that makes us dream of romantic looks and nostalgic scenarios? Here is your guide to orient yourself among the rooms, the works, and the long-awaited looks of the guests next May 2nd!
Met Gala 2022: The Structure of the Event
The theme of this year, or rather, of last and present year, has been split into two to celebrate American fashion in all its nuances: the first part was entitled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion“, while the second will be “In America: An Anthology of Fashion“, which will officially open on May 2, 2022, and both will be open until September 2022.
A rich program, a story in two episodes to underline the importance of a style, the American one, which has influenced and still largely influences international fashion. The co-chairs of the event that will support Anna Wintour are none other than Tom Ford, and Adam Mosseri (Head of Instagram), while the presenters will be Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. We sincerely raise our hands in front of this list, because if these are “only” the presenters, who knows who the guests will be… The “guess the name” session is officially on!
Met Gala 2022: The Theme
A celebration of American fashion that is also a reflection and a thanksgiving: these are the premises of Andrew Bolton, who declared that the choice of the theme is due to “wanting to thank the American fashion community, which has supported us for the last 75 years, and to put this style at the center of attention, also giving the chance to reflect upon it.”
The apparent generality of the theme hides in deep motivations, which take into account both history and current events, where the quality of the clothes of American designers is linked to the concepts of identity, inclusion, equality, and uniqueness, and their evolution and complexity: names of yesterday and today meet along the halls of the Met Museum to tell, through materials, details and perspectives, the emotions and events that led to their creation and success.
A reflection that puts the spotlight on the practicality of American fashion, in contrast to the more “emotional” one of the European designers, a style that has been able to react to history and interpret every challenge and inspiration in an always-current and original way, earning the right to a prominent position in the Olympus of style. Innovation and renovation are the keywords of the exhibition, two concepts more relevant than ever during the pandemic: “I was very impressed by the response of American designers to the current political and social climate, especially around the issues of inclusion and gender fluidity. I think that American fashion is going through a Renaissance, and that young designers specifically are even anticipating discussions around the values of diversity, inclusion, and sustainability,” said Bolton to Vogue.
Met Gala 2022: A Short and Recent History of American Fashion
It would seem that this “American Fashion Extravaganza” will focus on the last 300 years of American history. It would therefore start from the colonial period (first half of the ‘700) when the colonizing countries such as England, France, and the Netherlands dictated the trends. The distinction was then marked between colonies of the North and the South, between rural areas and cities, but overall, they preferred to dress simply and keep the “good dress” for Sundays and holidays. On July 4th, 1776, the United States of America was finally born, and the events of history took a very fast run: from Lincoln’s presidency marked by the American Civil War (1861-1865) that led to the abolition of slavery, during which we underlain the role of personal seamstress and confidant of the first lady held by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave, to the discovery of the Far West and the pioneers period. That was also a moment characterized by simplicity, cotton dresses, and trousers even for women, to be able to work more comfortably. Let’s not forget about the year 1853 and a name, that of Levis Strauss, who in that year founded the most famous company of denim: Levi’s.
The years of the first ‘900 are the years of the Great Wars, where style was certainly not a concern, although, in the same years, we witnessed the so-called Golden Age Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, and Marylin Monroe are just some of the names that have marked the world of cinema with their interpretations, appearances, and looks. It was then, in fact, that the phenomenon of the red carpet and costume designers was born (starting with Gilbert Adrien, the costume designer of Major MGM considered the mind behind the divas’ phenomenon) who, on the sets, gave life to creations that, even today, are considered iconic. Those of the post-war period were the years of rebirth, prohibition, dresses with sequins and sparkles, flappers, sensual details, and the most absolute glamour where anyone wanted to breathe the air of possibility and freedom that could be seen at the horizon.
If in the ‘40s and ‘50s, people began to “leave” the practicality and simplicity typical of the American style, adopting high-waisted suits and skirts, while continuing to contribute to the ready-to-wear style. But it is from the ‘60s that the world started looking to America for a precise style icon: we are talking about the First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy, always impeccably dressed by the designer Oleg Cassini, who started the phenomenon of the First Ladies as style icons, as well as the European royalty. But the ‘60s were also the moment of the hippy movement, with tie-dye clothes, giant sunglasses, wide trousers, scarves on the head, bright colors, and miniskirts, a symbol of emancipation. In other words, they were the years of freedom and revolution, even in individual terms.
Even the ‘70s marked a turning point for American fashion: these were the years of Cher and her “scandalous” looks, of Diane Vreeland at the helm of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue before becoming a consultant at the Costume Institute and giving new prestige to the Met Gala as we know it today and, above all, the moment in which American designers took the podium together with the Europeans to demonstrate to the whole world the validity of their creations. That occurred during the so-called “Battle of Versailles,” a charity event organized in the palace of Louis XIV by Eleanor Lambert (founder of the Met Gala itself, the CFDA, and New York Fashion Week, among others), where those who battled with breathtaking looks were the American and European counterparts, respectively representing Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta and Halston for America and Hubert de Givenchy, Emmanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan (Dior) for Europe. America’s victory was sensational, and even today, names such as that of Halston and de la Renta resonate, as they, in their way, helped to spread an important message: America had come under the spotlight of fashion and did not intend to move.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, the names of Jane Fonda, Madonna, and the cast of “Dynasty” resonate when it comes to trends, but these are also the years of designers such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karen, and Tom Ford, still considered big names in the fashion system together with the most “recent” ones such as Rodarte, LaQuan Smith, Vera Wang, and Marc Jacobs Alexander Wang and Proenza Schouler.
What about today? The American style has felt the effect of globalization, leaving aside the concepts of belonging or not to a country to focus, instead, on those of freedom, on a kind of fashion that is simple, practical, comfortable, and without too many frills. There are no geographical conditionings, there is no desire for tradition: there is instead the desire to give voice to new talents, to confirm once again the success of streetwear (born precisely among the skate and surf cultures of ‘90s California) and to “provoke” those who see a dress leading them to question themselves on issues such as belonging, inclusion, and individuality. In short, there is a desire to see American fashion as “an emotional and living art form,” always quoting Bolton, who does not exclude storytelling from its practical nature.
Met Gala 2022: Gilded Glamour
If the exhibition dedicated to American culture and fashion was divided into two parts, to inaugurate this second one, they wanted to focus on a theme for the evening that resonates with opulence, splendor, and nostalgia, celebrating the long-awaited return to normality and the rebirth of one of the most anticipated events of the year. The keyword for the dress code of May 2nd is “Gilded Glamour“: literally “golden glamour”, which refers to the American Golden Age that, between the second half of the 800 and the early 900s, made the whole world dream of looks suspended between retro elegance and flashes of modernity, marking a fashion sign of change and precisely by the influenced change.
In this period of economic growth, luxury, and rapid industrialization and reconstruction, we find corsets (not surprisingly, one of the trends of the current season), elbow-length gloves, elaborate headdresses, bright colors, brocade fabrics, and deep necklines, in a riot of pomp and elegance aimed at flaunting their well-being. An elaborate process of dressing aimed at a single goal, that of impressing. In the Gilded Age of the 2022 Met Gala, we can expect all these elements, a dominance of the tint now and clothes worthy of the best period dramas: and if some members of the cast of “Bridgerton” or the sequel to “Downton Abbey“, which will be released in the upcoming days, also show up on the red carpet, well … We would certainly not be surprised!
Met Gala 2022: Expectations
Saying “Who” could be at the Met Gala is always a gamble because surprises are never lacking. Almost for sure, we can count on veterans of the event such as Rihanna, the Kardashian and Hadid sisters, Katy Perry, Eva Chen, Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Harry Styles, and the previous co-hosts of the event, namely Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Naomi Osaka, and Amanda Gorman. Great expectations also for the cast of “Euphoria“, despite Zendaya having confirmed that she will not be present (unfortunately): who knows, then, which guests will actually have the approval of Anna Wintour to take part in this edition …
In terms of “What” instead, as for the looks and designers that we want to see on the red carpet, expectations are very high. After the unpredictable (but trendy) style choices of last September, now it is time to focus on the classic elegance of the past. The most likely names in these terms are Rodarte (the designers themselves could attend the event with their friends and muses Kirsten Dunst or Florence Welch, for whom they have curated the looks of her latest music videos), Vivienne Westwood (the bride looks with Victorian and punk touches are highly rated), some vintage dresses by Givenchy (such as those worn by Audrey Hepburn in “War and Peace”), Vionnette, Christian Dior by John Galliano or Schiaparelli (plus, seeing the contrast between a retro look and a contemporary one of this brand could be very interesting). Unmissable are the big names behind impressive, iconic looks like Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix, and Gucci by Alessandro Michele: I’m already telling you, the first dress of the 2019 cruise collection of the brand that I will see, will certainly make me scream!