Met Gala 2022: Cold Gold

Met Gala 2022: Cold Gold

Gilded Glamour’ peeps through been-there arrival couture. A Clinton is on view and Anna Wintour’s new biography chatters on the sidelines. But there is no mirroring of today’s socio-political reality

A few Guccis and Moschinos, some blazing Altuzzaras, a bunch of Pradas, a small bouquet of Prabal Gurung and an outstandingly big serving of Louis Vuitton. That’s more or less how the red carpet for Met Gala 2022, or the First Monday of May was swagged when it came to fashion branding hierarchy. There were a couple of Chloé’s, Valentinos, some edgy Thom Brownes, a selection of Ralph Laurens and an Oscar de la Renta or two.One embellished Chanel too on global fashion media’s first lady Anna Wintour.

Ralph Lauren looked best on singer-songwriter Alicia Keys who wore a black big dress and cape with The Empire State Building embroidered on it in sparkling silver. Yet, to find that French brand Louis Vuitton was the most favoured fashion house to dress and define an American party themed ‘Gilded Glamour’, alongside an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—titled In America: An Anthology of Fashion—itself is telling.


Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz in Ralph Lauren.

It reveals the resonating continuance of the luxury brand’s cross-continental, ‘America-needs- LV-to-be-stylish’ commerce, art, logo fame and red carpet appeal. Gucci, which got a sharp popularity spike for a few years on red carpets around the globe with Alessandro Michele’s unique style subculture stands outpaced. Dior Haute Couture is a few steps behind too. Versace, a predictable name to imagine ‘Gilded Glamour’ in America got its gold out there—most notably on rapper Cardi B, actor-producer Lena Waithe and model Emily Ratajkowski but it barely melted anybody.

If you are buying this gold trip by weight of styling and the requisite glamour to carry it off, hand it over for the big carats to Natasha Poonawalla, executive director of Serum Institute of India. Styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania in a metallic Schiaparelli bustier, Sabyasachi sari and trail, Sabyasachi fine jewellery with some pieces from jewellery designer Bhavya Ramesh and Louboutin heels, Poonawalla was India’s diva at the MET Gala. Uncontestably striking.


Natasha Poonawalla in Sabyasachi and Schiaparelli.
Mike Coppola / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The White Tie dress code, according to Vogue, was to invite glamourous attendees to “approach late 19th Century glamour through a modern lens”. Literally, that meant anything. Or anything as long as it was dramatic, gold, gilt-sprinkled, crystal encrusted, exhibitionist, sequined, beaded, bold, rich, precious, audacious, American-aristocratic…well.

So what did we get in terms of all American statements (never mind who made the clothes). It was Kim Kardashian again, the unofficial poster child of this gala who has been arriving year after year in meticulously styled, long-planned, outrageously original looks that make fashion her minion on this romp.

This year, she took Hollywood costume designer Jean Louis’s dress that late actor Marilyn Monroe wore for American President John F Kennedy’s 45th birthday in 1962. The glittering, nude-taupe dress based on a sketch by designer Bob Mackie that would forever be known as ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress sat on Kim K like a trophy. There was a hum even in her hair in the silver-salt crop, her waist on a return trip from curvaceous sexiness, her jewels shining. “What’s the most American thing one can think of,” she told Vogue, “it is Marilyn Monroe according to me”.


Kim Kardashian in ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress.
Angela Weiss/AFP
There was a hum even in her hair in the silver-salt crop, her waist on a return trip from curvaceous sexiness, her jewels shining.

If Kim K had one abiding idea to wear, British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed had another. Dressed in Angelo Urrutia, he came dressed like a worker, doff to those under the radar who made the rich shine in that era. Model Cara Delivingne wore golden paint on her upper body and teamed it with silken maroon suiting by Dior Haute Couture. She carried a unique accessory—a walking stick, credit unknown.

There were other eye-catchers. Former presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton walked this red carpet after two decades in a wine-maroon Altuzzara gown with names of 60 women who inspire her embroidered on the neckline and seams. Businesswoman Kylie Jenner wore what the The New York Times called “mixing athleisure and matrimony” in Virgil Abloh’s posthumously shown collection for Off-White.

The Matted Side of Gilt

In the year 2000, Random House published a collection of essays and articles called The New Gilded Age: The New Yorker Looks at the Culture of Affluence. The brilliant American journalist David Remnick who edited this collection, used several ideas to express the matted side of gilt. Or the guilty side of gold, let’s say. One of them was by bringing up in his introduction to this anthology, the conspicuous life of Jay Gatsby from the book and film The Great Gatsby. As American as it gets, as affluent and gilt-ridden too. “Gatsby’s fate…” wrote Remnick “is a contradictory symbol of aspiration, self-creation, wealth and hollowness”. To this he added that “The New Gilded Age (not the same 19th Century idea that the Met Gala has betted its gold on), this American moment of prosperity, satisfaction, and self-satisfaction is rife with such contradictions.”


Kylie Jenner in Off-White.

Remnick’s words sum up the Met Gala’s 2022 theme and costumes so aptly. The contradictions worn by Riz Ahmed, Kylie Jenner, even singer Billie Eilish (in a Gucci gown made of upcycled materials) momentarily skew the gilt trip, but it is the smug self-satisfaction, sometimes a lack of curiosity padded with “arrival” couture that celebrities wear, that leaves us cold.

“Gilded Glamour” can be argued as a stark antithesis (and thus compelling) to today’s global political realities—authoritarianism, COVID-19’s irrepressible run and ravages, a war on Ukraine, climate change desperations. But the fact that fashion’s biggest party did not find a more ingenuous, more nuanced, more complex theme for this year is why the gold is so cold. It mirrors nothing from the real world today.


Anna Wintour in Chanel.
Mike Coppola / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

All the more reason why we must read between the pages of Anna Wintour’s newly released biography Anna by Amy Odell and watch Netflix’s recently released documentary The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes.


Banner: Cardi B in Versace. Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP