Imagine all the texts: “WTF is white tie.” The theme for this year’s Met Gala was more open-ended than ever with the moniker “Gilded Glamour,” but its second part, the white tie bit, seems to have forced hands towards gowns and tailcoats with very few deviations. The festivities’ formal look recalled the original red carpets of Old Hollywood and early American aristocracy party greeting lines. With the pandemic not yet behind us, the best red carpet ensembles subverted this decadence and found glamor in the wearer’s own connection to historic lineages of greatness, rather than the impermeable boundaries of class and its associated textiles.
There were several Marilyn Monroe impersonators on the red carpet but only Kim Kardashian went the extra mile of actually borrowing the late actor’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President" dress.
The runner-up goes to the look worn by Phoebe Bridgers, who couldn’t have known.
Monroe’s famous The Seven Year Itch dress (the one familiar with a subway grate) also got some play. Our favorite was Paloma Elsesser who borrowed from the lingerie drawer and mom’s jewelry to tie it all off in a custom Coach look. (Meanwhile, Emma Stone, Miranda Kerr and Hailey Bieber didn’t go far enough into making it their own.)
Sydney Sweeney’s version was alright too but we think she has better Marilyn-spiked looks in her future.
Other Hollywood glamour accolades could be laid at Maude Apatow’s feet. The actor has found her groove and is sticking to it.
Versace’s custom gown for Cardi B felt like it finally took her love of excess to a place where only she and Donatella could go together.
There were others that went in for the gold too. We thought Carey Mulligan’s custom Schiaparelli dress was one of the top in its category and we would’ve killed to hear how 79,000 sequins sounded scratching the red carpet’s surface.
Lizzo’s gold embroidered cape by Thom Browne held the line of the performer’s knack for camp and in doing so got us re-excited about the roles she could play.
Trains, Capes and Bonnets: Oh, My!
With the white tie receiving line theme looming large, trains and capes were everywhere but it was the prevalence of bonnets that we didn’t see coming. Our favorite ended up on Precious Lee although we were more convinced with the top of the look than its oversized paillette end.
We’d give Lily Aldridge close seconds.
We hand the cape of the evening award to Michelle Yeoh who wore an unexpected green number by Prabal Gurung that cut through the noise with understated, earthshaking elegance.
For trains, you couldn’t do much better than Shalom Harlow whose bustle-like bow trailed down the Met steps like a gift.
An honorable train mention must also be held for Sarah Jessica Parker in Christopher John Rogers who was one of the most on-theme invitees in a 1880s-inspired dress coat and a hat that felt preposterously Carrie appropriate.
As for those who went literal and threw themselves to the mercy of 1880s corsets and fuss, Evan Mock deserves praise for his high-necked collar, which felt playful without being full costume.
We also like Emma Chamberlain’s number, which brought the 1880 theme all the way up to TikTok Shein separates but didn't fall into the Café Forgot twee.
Our sleeper favorites included Julianne Moore, who in Tom Ford and elbow length gloves can do no wrong, and Questlove, who looked better than anyone ever has in a ZEGNA made-to-measure shirt-dress–over–pant look and matching overcoat.