According To The Met Gala Red Carpet, This Is What’s Important About American Fashion

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It’s the second Monday in September, which, were it any other year, would mean nothing but a typical return to the 9-to-5 grind. In 2021, however, it's fashion’s biggest night: the Met Gala. After 16 long months without bathroom photos and step selfies, not to mention the most extravagant of ensembles, the “Oscars of Fashion” are back for Anna Wintour’s in-list — or anyone who could afford an estimated $30,000 seat.

Following the first in-person New York Fashion Week since February 2020, this year’s Met Gala is all about American fashion. Separated into two exhibitions — “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” — the Costume Institute at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art will attempt to tell America’s history through fashion and answer the question, “Who gets to be American?” But, what does that mean for the red carpet? Political and societal commentary obviously plays a heavy role in the sartorial choices of this year’s Met Gala attendees to varying degrees of effectiveness, as are looks borrowed from the archives of America’s most famous designers from the past, like Stephen Burrows, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta. We were most keen to see which contemporary designers would be represented and, in a way, canonized, like Christopher John Rogers, Pyer Moss, Prabal Gurung, and more.

See all the most telling looks from the 2021 Met Gala red carpet, ahead.

<h2>Jennifer Lopez in Ralph Lauren</h2><br>"Cowboy, Take Me Away" to whichever Southwestern locale Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Lauren used to inspire this look. <span class="copyright">Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Jennifer Lopez in Ralph Lauren


"Cowboy, Take Me Away" to whichever Southwestern locale Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Lauren used to inspire this look. Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Megan Fox wearing Dundas<br></h2>A modernized take on American rockabilly icon Bettie Page. <span class="copyright">Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage.</span>

Megan Fox wearing Dundas

A modernized take on American rockabilly icon Bettie Page. Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage.
<h2>Gabrielle Union wearing Iris Van Herpen</h2><br>This gown, according to Gabrielle Union, is all about change, which is exactly what we need to see right now in fashion.<br><span class="copyright">Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.</span>

Gabrielle Union wearing Iris Van Herpen


This gown, according to Gabrielle Union, is all about change, which is exactly what we need to see right now in fashion.
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.
<h2>Rihanna wearing Balenciaga & A$AP Rocky wearing ERL</h2><br>The unofficial queen of the Met Gala hath arrived. Let's all please bow down. <span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Rihanna wearing Balenciaga & A$AP Rocky wearing ERL


The unofficial queen of the Met Gala hath arrived. Let's all please bow down. Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga</h2><br>When you're a member — if not <em>the</em> member — of America's TV first family, everything you wear is American, even if it <em>is</em> a full-body black bodysuit and train by a French brand. <br><span class="copyright">Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images</span>

Kim Kardashian wearing Balenciaga


When you're a member — if not the member — of America's TV first family, everything you wear is American, even if it is a full-body black bodysuit and train by a French brand.
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images
<h2>Timothée Chalamet wearing Haider Ackermann</h2><br>It's the Converse Chuck Taylors — <em>the</em> American sneaker — on co-chair Timothée Chalamet for us. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Timothée Chalamet wearing Haider Ackermann


It's the Converse Chuck Taylors — the American sneaker — on co-chair Timothée Chalamet for us. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Billie Eilish wearing Oscar de la Renta</h2><br>Billie Eilish continues her corset streak — which spans from custom Gucci bustiers on the cover of <em>British Vogue</em> and to more accessible styles by Instagram-favorite cult label Miaou — in this holiday Barbie-inspired tulle corset gown by Oscar de la Renta.<span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Billie Eilish wearing Oscar de la Renta


Billie Eilish continues her corset streak — which spans from custom Gucci bustiers on the cover of British Vogue and to more accessible styles by Instagram-favorite cult label Miaou — in this holiday Barbie-inspired tulle corset gown by Oscar de la Renta.Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.
<strong><h2>Regina King wearing Michael Kors</h2></strong><br>The category is corporate queen. And Regina King just won it. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Regina King wearing Michael Kors


The category is corporate queen. And Regina King just won it. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Lorde wearing Bode </h2><br>Lorde "got a bit of the bod out" while wearing a Bode look made using repurposed antique garments. <em>Nice. </em><span class="copyright">Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.</span>

Lorde wearing Bode


Lorde "got a bit of the bod out" while wearing a Bode look made using repurposed antique garments. Nice. Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.
<h2>Zoë Kravitz wearing Saint Laurent</h2><br>From <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2021/08/10643356/zoe-kravitz-araks-blue-slip-dress" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:one viral slip dress" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">one viral slip dress</a> to the next, Zoë knows the value of a simple number. <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Zoë Kravitz wearing Saint Laurent


From one viral slip dress to the next, Zoë knows the value of a simple number. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Lil Nas X wearing Versace</h2><br>For his third look of the night — his first was all about royalty, while his second was a suit of armor — Lil Nas X said on the red carpet that this sparkling Versace bodysuit was his answer to looking "sexy and slutty," which, like, <em>vibe</em>. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Lil Nas X wearing Versace


For his third look of the night — his first was all about royalty, while his second was a suit of armor — Lil Nas X said on the red carpet that this sparkling Versace bodysuit was his answer to looking "sexy and slutty," which, like, vibe. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Lupita Nyong’o wearing Versace</h2><br>We hadn’t seen such a display of denim elegance since Britney Spears in 2001. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images</span>

Lupita Nyong’o wearing Versace


We hadn’t seen such a display of denim elegance since Britney Spears in 2001. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
<h2>Simone Biles wearing custom Area </h2><br>What are 50 stars compared to <em>the one</em>? <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Simone Biles wearing custom Area


What are 50 stars compared to the one? Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Ciara wearing Dundas</h2><br>It's the Superbowl ring that really says, "America," in Ciara's Met Gala look.<span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images</span>

Ciara wearing Dundas


It's the Superbowl ring that really says, "America," in Ciara's Met Gala look.Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
<h2>Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Balenciaga couture</h2><br>An ode to renowned supermodel Grace Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross rocked an electric-blue Balenciaga couture coat-gown that's an "expression of her inner self." <br><br><span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Tracee Ellis Ross wearing Balenciaga couture


An ode to renowned supermodel Grace Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross rocked an electric-blue Balenciaga couture coat-gown that's an "expression of her inner self."

Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Aurora James wearing Brother Vellies</h2><br>Louder for the people in the back, AOC! <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images</span>

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Aurora James wearing Brother Vellies


Louder for the people in the back, AOC! Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
<h2>Amanda Gorman wearing Vera Wang </h2><br>Inauguration Day poet and Met Gala co-chair Amanda Gorman said it's all in the details by carrying a "Give Me Your Tired" book bag, an homage to <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/01/the-story-behind-the-poem-on-the-statue-of-liberty/550553/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the poem on the Statue of Liberty" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the poem on the Statue of Liberty</a>. <span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage</span>

Amanda Gorman wearing Vera Wang


Inauguration Day poet and Met Gala co-chair Amanda Gorman said it's all in the details by carrying a "Give Me Your Tired" book bag, an homage to the poem on the Statue of Liberty. Photo by John Shearer/WireImage
<h2>Serena Williams</h2><br>Serena Williams serves on and off the court, as proven with this ombré feather look.

Serena Williams


Serena Williams serves on and off the court, as proven with this ombré feather look.
<h2>Yara Shahidi wearing custom Dior</h2><br><em>Grown-ish</em> star Yara Shahidi dug into archive photos of Josephine Baker — someone she said she "so admires" — for this custom Dior look. <br><br><br>

Yara Shahidi wearing custom Dior


Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi dug into archive photos of Josephine Baker — someone she said she "so admires" — for this custom Dior look.


<h2>Zoey Deutch</h2><br>Is that Zoey Deutch or Cher circa 1972 by Bob Mackie? <span class="copyright">Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.</span>

Zoey Deutch


Is that Zoey Deutch or Cher circa 1972 by Bob Mackie? Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.
<h2>Iman wearing Harris Reed</h2><br>Supermodel Iman was a literal glowing ray of light in this custom Harris Reed gown and headpiece.<span class="copyright">Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.</span>

Iman wearing Harris Reed


Supermodel Iman was a literal glowing ray of light in this custom Harris Reed gown and headpiece.Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic.
<h2>Cara Delevingne wearing Dior</h2><br>No more words are necessary with this look. <span class="copyright">Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Cara Delevingne wearing Dior


No more words are necessary with this look. Photo: John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Hunter Schafer wearing Prada</h2><br>To shine or not to shine? There is no question what's the answer here. <span class="copyright">Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images.</span>

Hunter Schafer wearing Prada


To shine or not to shine? There is no question what's the answer here. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images.
<h2>Megan Thee Stallion wearing Coach</h2><br>Megan Thee Stallion looks like a Met Gala pro in this head-to-toe Coach ensemble, despite this being her first time attending. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Megan Thee Stallion wearing Coach


Megan Thee Stallion looks like a Met Gala pro in this head-to-toe Coach ensemble, despite this being her first time attending. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Tessa Thompson wearing Iris Van Herpen</h2><br>We're going out West with this one. <span class="copyright">Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Tessa Thompson wearing Iris Van Herpen


We're going out West with this one. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Michaela Coel </h2><br>Patriotic blue never looked so good. <span class="copyright">Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images.</span>

Michaela Coel


Patriotic blue never looked so good. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images.
<h2>Chloe & Halle Bailey wearing Rodarte</h2><br>We love to see sisters supporting sisters: Chloe and Halle Bailey chose to pay homage to Hollywood sirens (Chloe) and Tina Turner (Halle) in dresses designed by sister design duo Rodarte. <span class="copyright">Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.</span>

Chloe & Halle Bailey wearing Rodarte


We love to see sisters supporting sisters: Chloe and Halle Bailey chose to pay homage to Hollywood sirens (Chloe) and Tina Turner (Halle) in dresses designed by sister design duo Rodarte. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.
<h2>Jordan Alexander wearing Christopher John Rogers</h2><br>Jordan Alexander is right where she belongs: On the steps of the Met (wearing Christopher John Rogers). <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Jordan Alexander wearing Christopher John Rogers


Jordan Alexander is right where she belongs: On the steps of the Met (wearing Christopher John Rogers). Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Precious Lee in Area</h2><br>From the runways at NYFW to the steps of the Met, Precious Lee does it all — and she does it while wearing a roughly 80-pound crystal suit by Area. <span class="copyright">Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.</span>

Precious Lee in Area


From the runways at NYFW to the steps of the Met, Precious Lee does it all — and she does it while wearing a roughly 80-pound crystal suit by Area. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.
<h2>Valentina Sampaio </h2><br>Now that's how you make an entrance!

Valentina Sampaio


Now that's how you make an entrance!
<h2>Debbie Harry wearing Zac Posen</h2><br>All-American blue jeans — but make it Met Gala-appropriate. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Debbie Harry wearing Zac Posen


All-American blue jeans — but make it Met Gala-appropriate. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Jennifer Hudson wearing custom AZ Factory</h2><br>Let's give some <em>Respect</em> to Jennifer Hudson's red hot AZ Factory gown.

Jennifer Hudson wearing custom AZ Factory


Let's give some Respect to Jennifer Hudson's red hot AZ Factory gown.
<h2>Kaia Gerber wearing Oscar de la Renta</h2><br>For her Met Gala debut, supermodel Kaia Gerber worked with Oscar de la Renta to recreate Bianca Jagger's 1981 Met Gala look by Halston.

Kaia Gerber wearing Oscar de la Renta


For her Met Gala debut, supermodel Kaia Gerber worked with Oscar de la Renta to recreate Bianca Jagger's 1981 Met Gala look by Halston.
<h2>Naomi Osaka wearing Louis Vuitton</h2><br>Co-chair and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka allowed her older sister the opportunity to collaborate with Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière to create her Met Gala look, which combined her Haitian and Japanese heritage.

Naomi Osaka wearing Louis Vuitton


Co-chair and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka allowed her older sister the opportunity to collaborate with Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière to create her Met Gala look, which combined her Haitian and Japanese heritage.
<h2>Saweetie wearing Christian Cowan</h2>Saweetie's show-stopping train features two flags that she explained represent her and her America: the Black-American heritage flag and the Filipino flag. <br><br><br>

Saweetie wearing Christian Cowan

Saweetie's show-stopping train features two flags that she explained represent her and her America: the Black-American heritage flag and the Filipino flag.


<h2>Eva Chen wearing Christopher John Rogers</h2><br>Instagram's fashion boss Eva Chen is making 2019 CFDA/<em>Vogue</em> Fashion Fund winner Christopher John Rogers proud in this eye-catching ensemble. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Eva Chen wearing Christopher John Rogers


Instagram's fashion boss Eva Chen is making 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Christopher John Rogers proud in this eye-catching ensemble. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Emma Chamberlain wearing Louis Vuitton</h2><br>Emma Chamberlain is not messing around at her first Met Gala, where, of course, she chose to wear Louis Vuitton. <span class="copyright">Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.</span>

Emma Chamberlain wearing Louis Vuitton


Emma Chamberlain is not messing around at her first Met Gala, where, of course, she chose to wear Louis Vuitton. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.
<h2>Keke Palmer wearing Sergio Hudson<br></h2><br>Hosting the first Met Gala livestream at your first Met Gala requires one to dress the part — and Keke Palmer did just that (and more) in this high-neck-low-back gown. <span class="copyright">Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.</span>

Keke Palmer wearing Sergio Hudson


Hosting the first Met Gala livestream at your first Met Gala requires one to dress the part — and Keke Palmer did just that (and more) in this high-neck-low-back gown. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.
<h2>Ilana Glazer wearing Aliétte </h2><br>Keke Palmer's livestream co-host, <em>Broad City</em>'s Ilana Glazer, took a literal approach to American fashion for her Met Gala ensemble, wearing elevated camouflage (featuring feathers) by Aliétte. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Ilana Glazer wearing Aliétte


Keke Palmer's livestream co-host, Broad City's Ilana Glazer, took a literal approach to American fashion for her Met Gala ensemble, wearing elevated camouflage (featuring feathers) by Aliétte. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney</h2><br>As a longtime advocate in Congress of the effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, who better to wear an ode to the ERA on the Met Gala red carpet than Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. <span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney


As a longtime advocate in Congress of the effort to pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, who better to wear an ode to the ERA on the Met Gala red carpet than Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<h2>Leon Bridges wearing Bode</h2><br>Leon Bridges went home to Texas for this year's Met Gala, donning a cowboy hat and fringe jacket by New York's Emily Bode.<span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Leon Bridges wearing Bode


Leon Bridges went home to Texas for this year's Met Gala, donning a cowboy hat and fringe jacket by New York's Emily Bode.Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Dan Levy wearing Loewe</h2><br><em>Schitt's Creek</em>'s Dan Levy, in collaboration with Loewe designer Jonathan Anderson, used the Met Gala to spread a message about marriage equality.

Dan Levy wearing Loewe


Schitt's Creek's Dan Levy, in collaboration with Loewe designer Jonathan Anderson, used the Met Gala to spread a message about marriage equality.
<h2>Julia Garner wearing Stella McCartney</h2><br>Julia Garner dressed for the screen in this silver, naked-esque dress by Stella McCartney. <span class="copyright">Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue </span>

Julia Garner wearing Stella McCartney


Julia Garner dressed for the screen in this silver, naked-esque dress by Stella McCartney. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
<h2>Ella Emhoff wearing adidas by Stella McCartney</h2><br>The First Daughter of Bushwick has arrived at the Met Gala — and she's wearing USA-red by Stella McCartney!

Ella Emhoff wearing adidas by Stella McCartney


The First Daughter of Bushwick has arrived at the Met Gala — and she's wearing USA-red by Stella McCartney!
<h2>Maisie Williams wearing Reuben Selby <br></h2><br>Maisie Williams is giving Helena Bonham Carter-meets-<em>The Matrix</em> vibes in this black high-low gown designed by her boyfriend Reuben Selby. <span class="copyright">Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images</span>

Maisie Williams wearing Reuben Selby


Maisie Williams is giving Helena Bonham Carter-meets-The Matrix vibes in this black high-low gown designed by her boyfriend Reuben Selby. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images
<h2>Evan Mock</h2><br>Did <em>Gossip Girl</em>'s Evan Mock, Kim Kardashian, and Kim Petras discuss their leather masks ahead of this week? If so, I need to see that group text. <br><span class="copyright">Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.</span>

Evan Mock


Did Gossip Girl's Evan Mock, Kim Kardashian, and Kim Petras discuss their leather masks ahead of this week? If so, I need to see that group text.
Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.
<h2>Barbie Ferreira in Jonathan Simkhai</h2><br>When the next big thing in Hollywood pays homage to Old Hollywood >>><span class="copyright">Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.</span>

Barbie Ferreira in Jonathan Simkhai


When the next big thing in Hollywood pays homage to Old Hollywood >>>Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.
<span class="copyright">Photo: Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images.</span>
Photo: Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images.

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