Here Are 17 of the Best Americana-Themed Looks at the 2021 Met Gala Next to the Great Works of Art That (Probably) Inspired Them
From Timothée Chalamet's collaboration with JR to Lupita Nyong'o's Lorna Simpson-inspired updo, here are the artiest looks from the gala.
After a Met-less 2020, the Met Gala returned to New York on Monday with a bang. Designers and their muses put their best foot forward to respond to this year’s exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which questioned, among other things, what defines American fashion and, further still, who gets to be American in the first place.
The red carpet saw a fair number of art-world stars, too—among them the young artist (and second daughter) Ella Emhoff, American artist Rashid Johnson, and French street artist JR. The latter orchestrated an elaborate pre-show with actor Timothée Chalamet, one of the gala’s co-chairs, just a few blocks south of the Met, at the Frick Breuer.
Livestreaming his performance on Instagram, Chalamet began in the museum’s Fragonard galleries and then ripped through a flag-themed paper banner to explore the rest of the museum.
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“We enter in an American flag, to find a place, an identity, a position, a future, between the stripes and the stars,” JR told Vogue. “To get to the end, we need to confront our rifts, our flaws, those of our nation, of our family.” (As the Art Newspaper reported, these rifts were also exemplified in a demonstration outside the museum for racial justice; a police spokesman said there were “several” arrests during the flashy event.)
Some celebrities wore art on their sleeves, like Dan Levy, who sported a Loewe suit emblazoned with a work by the late David Wojnarowicz.
In celebration of the gala’s return, we rounded up 17 looks and the artworks that either inspired them, or that they evoke, below.
In her custom black and white pinafore-style dress designed by Batsheva, Hall reminded us instantly of the woman in Grant Wood’s 1930 painting, American Gothic, complete with the white collar and stone face.
Goldberg donned a violet ruffled gown designed by Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, recalling the purple robe of Matisse’s Robe violette et Anemones (1937).
Is it Debbie Harry in an American-flag themed dress by Zac Posen or… Jasper Johns’s 1958 work, Three Flags?
Tracee Ellis Ross
Ross in a cerulean couture gown by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga is a dead ringer for Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror (Blue) (2016).
Love Luptia saying her hair was inspired by the work of Lorna Simpson #MetGala pic.twitter.com/3Iq269rHzA
— Shelton Boyd-Griffith (@flyrebel) September 14, 2021
In her rose-toned feathered gown by Prada, the Wrinkle in Time star recalled the pink-winged angel of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation (1440–45).
In a Fendi ball gown adorned with 240,000 ostrich feathers, the Olympic sprinter recalled George Seurat’s periwinkle pointillism in The Seine Seen From La Grande Jatte.
Gabrielle Union’s Iris Van Herpen dress, designed to move as she walked up the Met steps, reminded us of one of Yayoi Kusama’s 1959 Infinity Net paintings.
Kim Kardashian, clad in head to toe black—no, but really—by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga, found her art counterpart in Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square.
In a nod to the LGBTQ+ community, the Schitt’s Creek co-creator and star literally wore art—an interpretation of American artist and AIDS activist David Wojnarowicz’s Fuck You Faggot fucker (1984), to be specific—courtesy of Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson.
While the singer-songwriter’s Oscar de la Renta ball gown may have been modeled after her favorite Barbie doll, when it comes to her hair and makeup, we’re seeing Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe (1967).
Vice President Kamala Harris’s artist-designer-model stepdaughter stepped out in a Stella McCartney look whose strategically diaphanous top and petal-like skirt recalled Georgia O’Keeffe’s abstract Red Canna paintings.
The American poet, activist, and co-chair of this year’s Met Gala wore a custom Vera Wang dress that was inspired by the Statue of Liberty—albeit in Yves Klein Blue.
Accessorizing her custom Iris van Herpen gown—featuring a 3-D “laser-cut labyrinth”—with a metallic face mask and a sword, the musician transported us to the arms and armor department by way of Dune.
Leave it to a fashion icon, clad in an ethereal ensemble with a halo-like headpiece by the designer Harris Reed, to channel another icon—i.e., the 6th-century Christ Pantocrator of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.
With her Dior Haute Couture embroidered silk dress, gold tulle cape, gloves, and hair accessory, the actress and activist paid homage to Josephine Baker.
Lil Nas X
The rapper-singer-songwriter’s trio of gilded Donatella Versace ensembles—including this glittering bodysuit—brought to mind Gustav Klimt’s golden phase.
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