The Met Gala: Looks from “American Independence”

OLIVIA PAPP ’23

FEATURES EDITOR

On Monday, Sept. 13, the Met Gala was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. An event that is equivalent in publicity and sheer glamour to the Oscars, the Met Gala is a place where the fashion industry shines. Designers, models, and stars flaunt their fashion and perhaps political statements on the red carpet, all while fighting to get the most media coverage. This event also raises money for the Costume Institute. For this event, everyone is encouraged to dress according to the theme. 

Head Curator of the Met’s Costume Institute Andrew Bolton was inspired by the social and political change that we have seen across the country over the past several years. Because of this changing political landscape, Bolton decided it was time to re-examine the American identity through fashion. 

Thinking about themes of diversity, inclusion, and sustainability, Bolton was excited to witness what designers came up with in order to adhere to the official theme of the Met Gala: American independence. Although there was a multitude of other profound and creative looks from the renowned event, The Tripod decided to select three influential outfits that received a positive public response to review for your entertainment. We will be looking at the outfits worn by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; model, actress, and entrepreneur Iman Abdulmajid; as well as public figure Kim Kardashian. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seamlessly walked up the red carpet in a gorgeous and elegant white gown with the words “Tax the Rich” etched across her back. At an event surrounded by millionaires and billionaires, the dress was certainly deemed controversial in seconds. Aurora James, a black woman and immigrant designer who first began her fashion career selling garments at a Brooklyn flea market, was the designer of Ocasio-Cortez’s dress. James wanted to go against the grain when designing the outfit, as she did not want to dress Ocasio-Cortez in a predictable, traditional suit. The gown was intended to symbolize evolution. The democratic-socialist was described as excited to keep working toward a future of sustainability, inclusion, and empowerment, using a bold fashion statement to start the conversation. Ocasio-Cortez said the middle and working class are having conversations on the Senate floor regarding a fair tax code, when in reality, it is time all classes are brought into the conversation.

Iman Abdulmajid

Somali-American fashion model, actress, entrepreneur, and widow to the late musician David Bowie Iman Abdulmajid wore perhaps the most intricate, bold, and lovely piece at the Met Gala. Dressed to emulate the appearance of an angel, Abdulmajid glowed in a bright gold and silver brocade jumpsuit. Over the jumpsuit, the fashion model wore a feathered overskirt and a matching feathered headpiece adorned with flecks of gold. The piece was brilliantly put together by the Italian Dolce & Gabbana and British-American designer Harris Reed. Between hand-tacking, gluing, hand-embellishing, gold-leafing, and fitting, assembling this outfit took the designers a total of 400 hours. The outfit was perfect for the occasion, as the theme of the evening for Abdulmajid was hope and light, and that is just what her outfit portrayed. The audience was stunned overall, especially by the way the designers were able to modernize a look that was derived inspired by 18th-century styles and art. Abdulmajid carried both the dress and herself in an utterly angelic and elegant manner.

Kim Kardashian West

Kim Kardashian West may have worn the most controversial outfit of the night. While the theme of the night was American Independence, some critics thought the cloth covering her entire body was emblematic of oppression. Burkas are typically seen as a way to maintain anonymity and have been considered by some as a direct threat to independence, particularly in the United States. The outfit’s message was ambiguous, and many are still trying to decipher exactly how her outfit related to the theme of American independence and identity. Kardashian West’s look was designed by Demna Gvasalia. In a recent Instagram post, Kardashian-West indicated that she did keep with the Met Gala’s theme, as she said, “What’s more American than a T-shirt head to toe?!” Although there were many mixed reactions to this particular outfit, Kardashian-West still managed to shock the audience and keep us all guessing. If Kardashian-West and her team’s intent was to stand out and keep people talking, then their mission was certainly successful. 

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