What 'Gilded Glamour' really means and who truly understood the theme? 

Met Gala is back in the calendar on the first Monday of May. Last year the Gala took place in September following cancellation but previously this event has always been happening in May. For those who have not heard about the Met Gala it is an exclusive event to fundraise money for Metropolitan Costume Institute. Met Gala collects impressive sums of money every year. Last year the Gala raised a whooping 16 mln dollars. 

For those interested in history, the Met Gala was founded in 1948. The event was not always as prestigious as it is nowadays. Diana Vreeland, Vogue editor-in-chief and consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was the first who started inviting celebrities to the event in the early 70s which significantly raised its profile. 


Photo Credits: Vogue

 Photo Credits: Vogue


Metropolitan Museum of Art, the organizer of the gala, presented a collection of American fashion pieces across history called 'In America: an anthology of fashion'. The theme of this year's Gala was 'Gilded Age' that referred to the late 19th century. The fashion of that era can be described as 'white tie and gilded glamour'. White tie indicates a standard dress code for formal events back in those days. For women the formal dress code was a full-length ball gown with gloves. Women's clothing during that age is often associated with what we now call the bustle which was a voluminous silhouette which created emphasis on women's backsides. Later on, the bustles were replaced with a small cushioned pad that meant to enhance women's hips. The dresses included drapes, laces and a variety of fabrics such as silk, tulle etc.  

The Gilded era was an era of luxury and grandeur but only for the rich. It was the time of industrialization, immigration and economic growth. Nonetheless, the Gilded Age was extremely hard on a working class with low pay and hard working conditions. 


Photo Credits: Vogue

Photo Credits: Vogue


The idea of Costume Gala is to wear costumes that represent the theme. So, let me jump into our annual Met Gala Costume reviews. It was not easy to select the best costumes not because there were over 200 of them, but it was mostly because there were few significant issues with most of the outfits of the Gala.

First and foremost not everyone seemed to understand the theme 'Gilded era'. Cardi B wore a dress by Versace witj extreme gold ornamentation that reminded me of French Rococo that dated to the early 18th century and that is a century behind the theme. Cardi's gown had no bustle or even hoop so characteristic to the Gilded Age and seemed to me a complete miss. 

Secondly, it seemed that many outfits were screaming 'here I am' by simply putting together all the colours and fabrics with no plan which appeared extremely unflattering in most cases. It is true that the Gilded Age used a variety of fabrics but they should be matched with a style and not just according to what you happen to pick out from your wardrobe. 

Thirdly, trousers and nipples' covers barely make for an outfit. Have you seen a white wedding-like dress paired with a backward-weared hat one of the Kardashians wore? - talking about 'a miss'. 

Well, let's focus on the winners. Some celebrities definitely put more effort into the costume than others and understood the assignment. 


Danai Guira - Photo Credit - Getty Images

Photo Credits: Getty Images


Danai Gurira was quite close with her beautiful hooped dress in royal blue. It reminded me of the Victorian era, which coincided with the Gilded Age. Moreover, wealthy Americans travelled to Europe and brought a lot of trends imitating aristocratic dresses of that era. Not my favourite pick but I definitely applaud for being spot on theme. The only problem is what she holds in her hand - is that a mini-broom? Would it not be better to add stylish gloves? 

Another celebrity that represented the theme well by replicating the golden age dresses was Billie Eilish. She was reminiscent of the portrait of Madame Paul Person with her bodice dress and fingerless lace gloves. And the ruching around her hips - it is totally on theme. The reason why it is not my favourite dress is the coordination of colours, which was less than ideal - pastels look nice but they would do better with a stronger accent. The lace green gloves were lovely but did not match the green on the dress. 


The absolute winner who nailed the theme and looked stunning at the same time was no one else but the co-host of the Gala Blake Lively. She started off the night in a beautiful Versace copper dress which was transformed on the stage into a turquoise dress to mimic the oxidation process of the Statue of Liberty. Her dress was made of tulle and embroidered with crystals and metallic leather. Blake seems to love crystals as she appeared in one of the previous Met Galas in a crystal covered red Versace gown. You can read about the red Versace gown she wore at the Met Gala in 2018 in one of our earlier articles. 


Photo Credits: Getty Images


This year's dress was also designed by Versace. A copper change into turquoise dress with a train depicting a map that decorated the ceiling of Grand Central Station in Manhattan. This dress is absolutely well thought out and banged on the theme. It is also quite original in how it represented significant pieces of architecture of the Gilded Age. Additionally, the train, when folded, formed the bustle which is in line with the trends from that era. The palette of colours is perfectly matched with jewellery and the crown. Blake has an amazing attention to details. This is my absolute favourite. Once again Blake did not disappoint. 


Sarah Sampaio - Photo Credit - Getty Images

Photo Credits: Getty Images


There were a few dresses that were beautiful but not at all matched the theme of the Gilded Age.Sara Sampaio wore a golden glittering  gown by Michael Kors. She looked stunning although as far away from the theme as it could be. As I described earlier, 'Gilded' referred to 'Gilded Age', the era of 1890 and 1900 and not 'gilded' as 'covered in a thin layer of gold'. Even though the gold looks great on Sara, that is a huge miss. Her dress looked more like the early 20th century at the times of the end of the Gilded Age. The dress was lovely, although no thought was put into the theme. 


Miranda Kerr - Photo Credit: David Fisher -Shutterstock

Photo Credits: David Fisher


Miranda Kerr was closer to the theme with her white hoop gown by Oscar de La Renta. I love the simplicity, although white long gloves would make a great finish for this gown and raise its match to the theme. 

Of course these are just a few examples of 'hit and miss' outfits and these ones stood out for me. There were others that matched the theme but we would not be able to cover them all. Nonetheless, I do wonder how so many were a mismatch or not in any way close to the theme. At the end of the day, it is a Costume Gala. 

May 12, 2022 — Enoch Naam