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Met Gala 2022 - The Surprisingly Subtle Details That Pay Homage To Fashion's Gilded Age

Met Gala 2022 - The Surprisingly Subtle Details That Pay Homage To Fashion's Gilded Age

This year's Met Gala theme was a nod to the grand gilded age of fashion -sumptuousness, glittering opulence and wealth, amongst the trappings of power, scandal and corruption.

How fitting.

This year saw the usual internet zeitgeist around the event, with trend forecasters optimistically predicting campy corsetry, historically accurate bustle silhouettes, Victorian-esq frills, rococo regency and ballet inspired looks, with designers such as Vivianne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier and Schiaparelli expected to steal the show.

The reality, however, proved to be regrettably to the contrary, with many notable fashion journalists and internet commentators sharing the sentiment that the theme that revelled in dramatic opulence, was lacklustre. That being said, these highly scrutinised looks are nothing if not intricate, with many containing subtle nods and hidden references to fashion's gilded age - granted, not the robust Victorian grandeur we all hoped, but nods nonetheless.

The devil is well and truly in the details, and the Met Gala is absolutely no exception. Here are some things you might have missed:

Sarah Jessica Parker surprises in Christopher John Rogers

Infamous for his use of loud and robust colours, Christopher John Rogers surprised fashion punters with his use of muted tones for Met Gala veteran SJP. The unexpected colour palette is a homage to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a formerly enslaved woman who was the first black fashion designer in the White House. Commenting on the dress, Christopher John Rogers astutely notes

“She was a smaller designer, and someone that people don’t really talk about. The idea was to highlight the dichotomy between the extravagant, over-the-top proportions of the time period, and the disparity that was happening in America at the time.”

Fabulous intention and a perfect nod to the theme!

Riz Ahmed authentic take on gilded age fashion.

'A love letter to working immigrants' proves to be the resounding mantra behind Ahmed's casual red carpet look. In a 4SDESIGNS set, Ahmed's stylist Julie Ragolia explains the looks ode to the unsung hero's of the gilded age - the immigrant workers. This look aims to cannonise and celebrate the working class, without whom the opulence and extravagance of fashion's gilded age would not have been possible.

Madelaine Petsch in Moschino

Reminiscent of the canonical gilded age, complete with puffy sleeves, long gloves and a mermaid silhouette, Riverdale's Madelaine Petsch ticked all the boxes. Even more enticing about this look, is it's reference to timely literature, specifically Charlotte Perkins Gilman's early American short story, 'The Yellow Wallpaper.' Rife with social criticism about gilded age social practises, notably binary social etiquette, treatment of the mentally ill and women, this visionary design by Moschino is certainly more than meets the eye.

Gabrielle Union dazzles in Versace.

In an interview, Union explained that her Versace dress was in honour of legendary Black actress Diahann Carroll, who she noted was a ‘symbol of opulence and glamour’ for her. However, fans may have missed another subtle message sewn into the back of her up-do, trailing red crystals, meant to represent blood. “Because when you think about the Gilded Age and Black and brown people in this country, this country is built off of our backs, our blood, sweat and tears,” said Union. “So we added these red crystals to represent the blood spilled during the accumulation of gross wealth by a few during the Gilded Age, off of the backs of Black people and people of color in this country.”

Kim Kardashian's surprising styling choice

Although they were mostly hidden by her very famous dress, Kim Kardashian’s choice of footwear for the occasion may have surprised some: a pair of clear platform heels (or ‘pleasers’ as they’re known). However, there’s a very good reason behind Kardashian’s choice. As her dress was on loan and, of course, couldn’t be altered, she had to make up the 10cm difference between 1.68m Marilyn Monroe and herself at 1.57m, meaning a high platform was a necessity. Pleasers are widely used and popularised by the sex worker community, possibly paying homage to the raging brothel culture of the gilded age.

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