After months of planning and hours of fittings and hair and makeup, the first Monday in May is finally upon us, and it’s time to dissect the 2022 Met Gala red carpet. The theme was “gilded glamour,” tied to the opening of the second half of a two-part exhibit at the Costume Institute focusing on American fashion, and the dress code called for white tie.
What does “gilded glamour” mean? Well, there’s lots of room for interpretation, but the Gilded Age was a moment of excess for those who could afford to be excessive — of rich people being shamelessly over the top in every aspect of their lives, especially with what they wore. It was a time of “new money” and “old money” brushing shoulders and of excitement around technology and the future. So basically the Met Gala 150-something years ago, only trade railroad tycoons for Elon Musk.
Some attendees Monday night made historical references with bustlelike bumps and corsets. Others were fittingly extra with their embellishments. It was tough without the usual heavy hitters: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Zendaya, and Lady Gaga were missing. But some people stepped it up. Below, a look at who filled their shoes and who maybe didn’t.
Best Stunt: Blake Lively in Versace
When Blake Lively first arrived, I was like, Sure. It was fine. The giant bow reminded me of something Carrie Coon’s character would wear on The Gilded Age, which is to say it’s something Mrs. Vanderbilt herself might have worn, and the nod to Lady Liberty was nice. But Lively was a co-chair this year, so she had a responsibility to step it up, and she did. Her unexpected wardrobe transformation brought some much-needed drama to the red carpet, and I’ve watched videos of it happening many times since.
Most Likely to Be in the Museum: Billie Eilish in Gucci
Eilish has the perfect look for this theme; her porcelain skin and soft features make her a dead ringer for a John Singer Sargent painting. In fact, I saw someone compare her to this portrait of singer Mabel Batten in particular, which has hung at the Met before.
Closest Read of the Theme: Riz Ahmed
The Gilded Age was a time of immense prosperity for some but intense poverty, inequality, and hardship for others, particularly immigrants. As Ahmed explained to Vogue, his outfit was mean to be reminiscent of the laborers of the era. “This is an homage to the immigrant workers who kept the Gilded Age going,” he said on the red carpet.
Best Corset: Paloma Elsesser in Coach
There were so many corsets on the red carpet tonight, but this one stands out for its styling and elegance.
Best Outerwear: Lizzo and Gigi Hadid
A key component of making a grand entrance — a must for this theme, especially since back in the day people were announced upon arrival — is a big coat. Both of these would have made outdoor dining much more glamorous this winter. Lizzo wore Thom Browne and Gigi Hadid wore Versace.
Best New York Merch: Alicia Keys in Ralph Lauren
Frankly, there should have been more Zizmorcore on the red carpet. But there is only one person who can really say “In New Yoooooooork,” and it’s Alicia Keys. She and Swizz Beatz did New York “old money” proud.
Most Literally Gilded: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion
If you’re just going to wear gold, you better really wear gold, and these two gave us big embellishments, as the theme called for. We’ll give it a pass. Cardi B wore Versace and Megan Thee Stallion wore Moschino.
Most Likely to Get a Proposal by the End of the Night: Kaia Gerber in Alexander McQueen
If this were Bridgerton, she would be the season’s “diamond,” for sure.
“New Money” I’d Most Want to Party With: Evan Mock and Janicza Bravo
They came, they nailed the theme, and they looked supercool while doing it. The Mrs. Astors of the world may not “get” it, but they will soon. Evan Mock wore Head of State and Janicza Bravo wore Schiaparelli.
“Old Money” I’d Most Want to Party With: Christine Baranski in Thom Browne
On the Gilded Age, Baranski’s character is a bit of a stick in the mud, but they’re clearly nothing alike in real life. The actress celebrated her 70th birthday on the red carpet, showing that it’s possible to have authority and still look modern in a Thom Browne cape.
Most Questionably On-Theme: Kim Kardashian in Marilyn Monroe’s Dress
Most people went all the way back to the 1800s, but Kim doesn’t need a bustle or a corset. Instead, she wore the very same dress Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy. I guess this is technically “gilded glamour,” and it is a piece that should be in a museum, but I don’t know, maybe not worth losing 16 pounds for? I respect the commitment, though, and it does qualify as a “moment,” as we say in fashion.
Most Questionably Off-Theme: Kodi Smit-McPhee
People were hating on this outfit for being too casual and seemingly off theme, but if a leather skirt from this recent Bottega Veneta collection cost $29,000, I’d imagine this is up there, given that it’s also made entirely out of leather (yes, it’s all leather!). So not only is it extremely expensive, it’s also innovative, and in that way, actually very on theme. I see it as the 2022 version of “gilded glamour.” Sue me.
Person We Were Happiest to See: Quannah Chasinghorse
The Native American model and land protector looked great, and I especially love the way she matched her eye shadow with her dress.
Most Likely to Make Me Say Something Improper: Oscar Isaac in Thom Browne
I’d agree to an arranged marriage for this.
Best Surprise: Isabelle Boemeke in Noir Kei Ninomiya
If I were invited to the Met Gala, the first thing I would have done was rush over to Dover Street Market and buy this exact look.
Best Hat: Emma Corrin in Miu Miu
There should have been more hats on the red carpet — big ones with feathers and bows. A few women wore them, including Sarah Jessica Parker, but Emma Corrin represented the dandies of the world with this look inspired by New York socialite Evander Berry Wall, who was apparently called “King of the Dudes.”
Best Bow: Shalom Harlow
It’s not the most show-stopping look of the night, but it’s got drama, elegance, and being the supermodel that she is, Harlow wears it perfectly. It just makes me smile, and go, Ugh, yes!
Best Shoulders: Bad Bunny in Burberry
Bad Bunny nailed the Gilded Age time period with these pouf-y shoulders. The simplicity of the look allows you to really see its silhouette, and it actually seems comfortable, which is unusual.
Most Lenny Kravitz: Lenny Kravitz
Although he is on theme, what I love most about this look is it’s also something he would probably wear to, like, get coffee. I imagine Lenny just rolling out of bed and onto the Met Gala steps. Amen.