The Met Gala: A Lexicon of American Fashion

Images Courtesy of Business Insider

By Katherine Plunkett 

Awash with bling and bright colors, the red carpet of the Met Gala hosted a collective of vastly diverse ensembles inspired by this year’s theme: “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” From star-spangled to statement-making, A-list celebrities went all out in their representations of the theme, some hitting the mark right on and others seeming to fall short.

While it took place on Monday, September 13 this year because of COVID-19, the Met Gala is usually held the first Monday in May. This year’s theme is the first part of an American fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for which the event is a fundraiser. 

So how did celebrities interpret the theme of American fashion? Common takes included recreating iconic looks from old Hollywood stars, such as Gemma Chan, who recreated a look of America’s first Asian Hollywood star, Anna May Wong, all denim ensembles, bright colors, bold patterns, glitter, and, of course, stars and stripes. Most notable choices include Lili Reinhart’s dress with each state flower, Kim Kardashian’s all-black faceless look, Lil Nas X’s three-part outfit, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s controversial “Tax the Rich” dress. If you are looking to see more, check out Vogue’s catalog of every outfit.

Images Courtesy of Getty Images

The general public’s reaction to the event seems to be one of confusion. It was definitely a broad theme, and while some celebrities had thought-provoking and interesting interpretations, others dressed as if it was any other red carpet. The word “basic” has been used by many to describe a considerable amount of outfits. While not every person wore a statement piece, they all wore something that exists as a part of the lexicon of American fashion. That is what a lexicon is —a collection of the parts of a whole. 

Every article of clothing worn at the Met Gala last week demonstrated an aspect of American fashion, from the basic, to the confusing, to the controversial. These outfits, as well as Quannah Chasinghorse’s representation of indigenous Americans, Rhianna in streetwear, and every “basic” dress, are a perfect summation of American culture. Even Kim Kardashian, whose look was intended to say that she herself is American fashion, represents a large part of modern American culture that is truly obsessed with her and her siblings.

Images Courtesy of Getty Images

Not only did the collective of the Met Gala attendees represent the collective of American fashion and culture, it also represented a generational shift that is occurring in our society, as many of the attendees were younger than usual. In an interview with NPR, fashion critic for GQ Rachel Tashjian commented on this shift.

“Many of these kind of younger attendees opted to wear newer American designers … A lot of these kinds of designers who are not necessarily household names but are really exciting and essential voices in American fashion,” Tashjian said. “And I think, you know, having these young, exciting people wearing these kind of lesser-known designers, it sort of is a possibility for those designers to become household names like Ralph Lauren.”

This shift towards younger attendees and younger designers adds another aspect of American culture represented in the lexicon— the one of the future. 

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