Not that everyone in attendance cared. While Gilded Age fashion was known for sumptuous and luxe fabrics, ornate details and heavily structured, relatively modest silhouettes, many a celebrity treated the occasion as simply a night to dress in their most flamboyant finery. Which, if we’re being perfectly honest, made for some delightful viewing in its own right.
Here are some of the most eye-popping, head-turning (and head-scratching) looks.
Leave it to the creator of Skims shapewear to show up at the Met Gala looking like an advertisement for it. Although Kardashian’s arm accessory, Pete Davidson, was notable in his own right, making one of his first red-carpet appearances alongside Kardashian, it was the vintage nude Jean-Louis gown — the same one worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 when she sang” Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy — that caused a stir on the red carpet.
When Kardashian first tried on the dress, she told Vogue, it didn’t fit. “I said, ‘Give me three weeks,’ ” she said, and eventually lost 16 pounds to wear the dress to the Met Gala. As her sister Kourtney noted in her own interview with Vogue, Kim was dressed and styled for the event in a top-secret location.
The “Bodak Yellow” rapper embraced the “gilded” part of Gilded Age. So long as gold is involved, she said, “it can be any era for me.” And, wow, was gold involved. Her Versace dress was made from nearly a kilometer’s worth of seven different types of gold chains.
Holding a gold flute, the “Truth Hurts” singer stunned in a flowing robe with intricate gold embroidery that took more than 1,000 hours to make. Designer Thom Browne told Vogue that it was “one of the most beautiful things I have done for someone.”
Kylie Jenner wore an off-white concoction straight out of a ’90s teen babysitter’s Barbie fantasy wedding: an elegantly floof-y white ballgown skirt on the bottom with a sheer white T-shirt silhouette and backward baseball cap on top.
Clad in a shiny crimson catsuit and a wondrous puffer-jacket-meets-royal-mantle garment of the same color, supermodel Gigi Hadid probably found herself perfectly cozy on an unseasonably chilly evening in New York in this Versace ensemble.
Although she roved the red carpet with a crew of other entertainers dressed in Moschino, the rapper set herself separately in a bejeweled gladiatorial gown with golden feathers adorning her shoulders.
The Roots musician and recently Oscar winner said he was taking a “different angle on Gilded age” with his outfit, which is “representing African American people living in the Reconstruction Age.” He said the Zegna look was also a tribute to André Leon Talley, who became the first Black male creative director of Vogue in 1988 and died this year.
Will the real Jared Leto please stand up? Earlier in the evening, everyone confused Fredrik Robertsson for the actor. Making the mix-up even more ironic is the fact that Leto actually came dressed the same as someone else. He and Gucci designer Alessandro Michele wore matching beige tuxedos with black gloves, sunglasses, red bow ties and hair clips in their flowing locks — making them nearly indistinguishable from each other.
No, this is not actor Jared Leto in an outlandish get-up — though you wouldn’t be alone in thinking so. It’s actually fashionista Fredrik Robertsson. In fairness, the outfit — which some described as looking like “fish bones” and others likened to “porcupine couture” — does seem like something Leto might wear.
It’s a bold move to double down on silver on a night with the word “gilded” in its theme. But for anyone who’s listened to a radio in the past 13 years, Alicia Keys’s Ralph Lauren gown and black cape with the Manhattan skyline glittering on its train — an homage to the city at the heart of both Gilded Age allure and Keys’s hit single — made perfect sense.
The Australian actor, who broke out last year in Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” showed up in vintage Cartier and Bottega Veneta. Wearing beltless blue jeans, elbow-length leather red gloves and a diamond bolo tie, he cheekily said he was celebrating casual Fridays.
The former secretary of state wore a wine-colored Joseph Altuzarra dress embroidered with the names of women from US history who inspire her — including Abigail Adams, Sacagawea and Madeleine Albright.
The singer was a vision in white on the red carpet, wearing a Prabal Gurung gown and white stiletto nails with white appliqués. Her pops of color: sprays of delicate flowers in her hair and on her dress.
The mayor of New York City arrived on the red carpet wearing a long-tailed black tuxedo coat with “End Gun Violence” embroidered on the back, along with mural-like artwork trailing down toward the floor. The look was designed by Laolu Senbanjo, a Nigerian visual artist and performer, the New York Times reports.
In a refreshing interpretation of the night’s theme, actor Riz Ahmed wore an ensemble inspired by the working-class immigrants of color who, as he put it, helped make the Gilded Age golden. Ahmed paired boots and an open black chore coat with jewelry reminiscent of his mother’s collection, he said, inspired by the traditional jewelry of Hyderabad, India.
Fresh off an impressive sweep at the Grammy Awards for Silk Sonic, his exuberant band with Bruno Mars, Paak danced his way down the red carpet in a very Paak-like ensemble: John Lennon-esque sunglasses, a short black bob wig, black leather pants and a colorful jacket. “I used to shop Burlington Coat Factory,” he said. “Now I’m Gucci from head to toe.”
The actress and singer stunned with a sleek, backless floor-length Ralph Lauren gown — shimmering with white flecks like a star-studded sky — and a black-and-white striped headdress with stand-alone cuffs to match.
Honorary co-chair Anna Wintour raised eyebrows in her colorful, feathery Chanel frock designed by Virginie Viard, which looked strikingly similar to her 2019 Met Gala look. But a close inspection reveals a few differences — namely the inclusion this year of a tiara that’s reportedly a family heirloom.
When Met Gala co-host Blake Lively unfurled her outfit on the red carpet and revealed this glittering, dramatic Atelier Versace in copper and light green, onlookers applauded. Her bicep-length gloves seemed to nod to the modest elegance of Gilded Age New York — though one has to imagine a dress like this one, with a full cathedral train, might distract from the main event if it appeared in one of Edith Wharton’s opera box.
Lively told Vogue that the dress, and the reveal that unleashed its mint-hued skirt, was inspired by the Statue of Liberty — which is copper and has oxidized over the years to its famous green patina. Her seven-pointed headdress, too, was an homage to the similar one worn by Lady Liberty.
Feathers, lace, a towering headdress of artfully twisted linens — when it came to textures, singer and actress Cynthia Erivo’s gleaming white Louis Vuitton ensemble said yes to everything. With its drop waist and sleek sleeveless silhouette, this gown infused elements of the Roaring ’20s into the night’s “gilded glamour” theme.
Wearing a sheer black Moschino gown with a stunning lace train that trailed long behind her, Vanessa Hudgens earned the moniker “butterfly of death” in a tweet from BuzzFeed. The outlet so enjoyed the ensemble that it also offered a strange invitation to the actress: “and you can kill me.”