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The most Americana looks of the 2021 Met Gala

Screenshot of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram. Congresswoman AOC wore a white dress with the phrase “tax the rich.” SCREENSHOT OF AOC’S INSTAGRAM

The red carpet at the Met Gala is one of the biggest moments for fashion each year, meant to push the limits of fashion while following a theme that’s representative of the featured exhibit. The 2021 Met Gala was a smaller affair than usual, and the first one since 2019 because of the pandemic. This year’s theme was “In American: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

Here are the looks that succeeded in following the theme and stunned the red carpet of this outrageous event.

At $35,000 a ticket, the Met Gala is a gathering of the Hollywood elite. Stars and socialites clad in designer strut through the red carpet wearing ensembles alluding to art and its importance in society. Simple gowns are beautiful, but the most daring looks will forever be in the spotlight on this red carpet. 

For the American theme, think outrageously star-studded, both by the fashion and the person who wore these looks. 

Unexpectedly, the most controversial look of the night was donned by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The congresswoman wore a fitted white Brother Vellies ivory jacket dress with an organza flounce; the phrase “tax the rich” was written on the back in bold red. Cortez paired the gown with her signature red lipstick and a red handbag, which also read “tax the rich.”

Dutch model Imaan Hammam was star-spangled in her sheer vintage Versace gown covered in stars and outlined in crystals. While her look was seemingly simple, the sheer aspect made it bold and the stars tied it into the theme. 


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A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

Singer Ciara wore a lime green, floor-length sequin gown designed to resemble a bedazzled football jersey by ​​Dundas, and carried a football-shaped clutch. The dress featured long sleeves and an open back which was covered by her long, curly ponytail. Her look succeeded in both outrageousness and an American theme. The bold, metallic color made heads turn and the athletic details showed the culture that inspired her look. 


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A post shared by Ciara (@ciara)

Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse wore a gold gown by Peter Dundas for Revolve. Her face was tattooed in traditional Native American tattoos on her temples and chin. It was her jewelry that made her look powerful though; each piece was handmade Navajo turquoise jewelry and was given to her by her aunt Jocelyn Billy-Upchaw, who was Miss Navajo 2006. 

Billie Eilish channeled Marilyn Monore in her peach tulle Oscar de la Renta gown. Her ball gown was accentuated by the giant size of the skirt and train that was dramatic enough to capture the attention of the media and put her on the list of best dressed. According to The Atlantic, “She looked to the Holiday Barbies she’d wanted every Christmas growing up and the Old Hollywood sophistication of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe for inspiration, choosing a gargantuan confection of a dress with a 15-foot train that covered almost the entirety of the Met steps.” Eilish’s gown showcased both Old Hollywood glamour and American activism since she only agreed to wear the label if they officially announced the end of the use of fur in their brand. 


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A post shared by BILLIE EILISH (@billieeilish)

Debbie Harry wowed in a Zac Posen gown with a denim top and a wire skirt, wrapped in torn red and white striped fabric. The look was one of the most obviously patriotic. The shirt was bold and had very revolutionary vibes to it, while the top was completely contrasting with dark denim. 

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney took inspiration from the suffragette movement and ERA Yes in her lace gown with purple, gold and green accents that featured long sashes reading “equal rights for women” in black sequins. 

Makeup influencer Nikkie de Jager, known on YouTube as NikkieTutorials, paid homage to trans activist Marsha P. Johnson in her fitted bright aquamarine mermaid gown and floral headpiece by Edwin Oudshoorn. A sash was attached to the front reading, “pay it no mind,” Johnson’s well-known phrase in response to struggle or criticism. Jager announced her own trans identity in January 2020. The stunning look showed the importance of inclusion and allyship in America.  

Other celebrities fulfilled the American theme in more subtle ways. Regina King was Wall Street chic in a Michael Kors form-fitted blue gown with gold pinstripes and a matching floor-length coat, featuring a gold liner. The dress featured a thigh-high slit and buttons. Her look was completed with royal blue hair. 


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A post shared by Regina King (@iamreginaking)

Korean rapper CL wore a bold denim look over a pair of white briefs by Alexander Wang. There’s nothing more American than denim and according to W Magazine; the neckline was reminiscent of The Statue of Liberty. 

Kendall Jenner dazzled the crowd in a sheer Givenchy dress, covered from choker to hemline in crystals. According to Jenner in Vogue, the look was inspired by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. 

“She wore Givenchy in almost all of her movies,” Jenner told Vogue on Sept. 12. “She’s the biggest legend; I’ve been obsessed with her my whole life.”

Meghan Rapinoe, Olympian and captain of U.S. Women’s Soccer, wore the stars and stripes in her red pantsuit by Sergio Hudson. Her blouse was royal blue with silver stars and she carried a clutch which read “In Gay We Trust.” Her look was expressive of her personality, showing pride in her star-spangled clutch. 

Gymnast Simone Biles showed off her strength in a showgirl-inspired look by the New York label Area, with crystals swirled to resemble feathers. The gown weighed 98 pounds and was worn over a star-covered bodysuit. 


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A post shared by Simone Biles (@simonebiles)

The vintage decade look was popular on the carpet with both Yara Shahidi, in Christian Dior, and Ariana DeBose, in Michael Kors, channeling roaring ‘20s vibes. This is especially fitting for historical connections of the first Met Gala following a pandemic in the 2020s. 

Celebrities like Zendaya, Halsey and Blake Lively who annually turn heads on the carpet were missing from this year’s gala. 

The American inspiration was clear in all of these looks, adding outrage to fashion while showcasing tradition, history and patriotism. 

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