By: Katie Caputo
It’s the beginning of May which would usually mean a media frenzy over this year’s Met Gala, with news outlets eagerly sharing red carpet photographs and opinions on the best and worst dressed celebrities. However, as everyone knows, the past twelve months have been anything but usual. While the Costume Institute cancelled 2020’s event, they recently revealed that the Met Gala would return this year, with a few alterations.
Primarily, they postponed the event until September 13, 2021 and announced that it would be a more ‘intimate’ affair. The Met Gala will feature a theme of “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” with ‘American Independence’ as the official dress code. Co-chairs of this year’s event include actor Timothée Chalamet, poet and activist Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish, and professional tennis player Naomi Osaka. Although the Met Gala is several months away, let’s take a look back at the last few years of one of the biggest nights in the fashion world.
2019 — Camp: Notes on Fashion
The theme of ‘camp’ comes from a 1964 essay by Susan Sontag called ‘Notes on ‘Camp.’’ It describes an eccentric, grandiose style that feels slightly off and over-the-top, yet features stunning art. Sontag details ‘camp’ as ‘too much,’ but just enough of ‘too much’ to make it sensible and stylish. Celebrities who attended certainly embraced the ‘over-the-top’ aspect of the dress code, culminating in a red carpet that was truly exciting to look at and speculate upon.
2018 — Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ saw some of the world’s most famous people dressing up like gods and goddesses, making for a stunning red carpet. The theme of the night tied into The Met’s collection of medieval artifacts as celebrity designers and the curators aimed to highlight ‘the intersection of faith and fashion.’
2017 — Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between
Focusing on the designs of Rei Kawakubo, the 2017 Met Gala theme highlighted the “constant creation, recreation, and hybridity” embedded in Kawakubo’s designs. As only the 2nd living fashion designer featured during a Met Gala, the event emphasized Kawakubo’s significant influence on fashion. Her designs have challenged and pushed the boundaries of fashion for over 40 years and celebrities donned bold designs, textures, materials, and shapes to highlight this.
2016 — Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
In 2016, The Met’s exhibition centered around the use of both hand-made and machine-made pieces and the increasing intersection of the two during the modern age. It also featured live ‘workshop’ demonstrations of new technology used in the fashion industry. Celebrity designers aimed to achieve this balance of hand crafted design and technology in the red carpet looks.
2015 — China: Through the Looking Glass
By collaborating with The Met’s Department of Asian Art, the Costume Institute focused the Gala’s theme on the profound influence of Chinese culture on Western fashion. The exhibit featured different Chinese artifacts, illustrating how the designs and imagery of such artifacts influence and intertwine with fashion. Celebrities who adhered to the dress code took inspiration from Chinese culture, patterns, and craftsmanship.