When Vogue announced the added theme of Gilded Glamour for the 2022 Met Gala, it was clear that many celebrities, stylists, and designers alike would be heading to the library or doing a quick Google search to familiarize themselves with the styles and aesthetics of the time period. While last year’s Met Gala led many to embrace more recent fashion history paying homage to everyone from Audrey Hepburn and Anna May Wong up to Diana Ross and Cher, it was assumed that this year, the inspirations would extend slightly farther back into time. This was the case for some looks, and the red carpet was filled with corsets and voluminous skirts, with backstories to tell of the men and women to whom their ensembles paid homage. But others spent another year finding inspiration in the 20th century (and even the early 21st in one case). Below, see all the stars who were inspired by fashion history (both old and new) on the first Monday in May, and who helped turn the night’s red carpet into a much-needed history lesson.
There was a lot of pressure on Blake Lively to deliver and A-plus look on the Met Gala red carpet. Over the years, the actress has proven she knows what makes a great Gala gown, and considering her role as cohost at this year’s event, if there was any time to truly pull out all the stops, this was it. Luckily, she didn’t disappoint, and when Lively walked onto the steps of the Met, it was immediately clear all the dresses that followed would be compared to what she delivered.
And then, she stepped it up even more. Upon ascending the stairs, Lively’s dress transformed, the copper bow and bustle tied around her waist releasing into a light blue train that fell behind her, and her metallic leather gloves coming off to reveal a matching blue pair. Immediately, the inspiration for Lively’s dress was clear. The actress was invoking the Statue of Liberty, the colors of her gown mimicking the copper tone of the statue, and the blue-ish green hue it has turned due to oxidation. When her train unfolded, a celestial map was revealed, based on the ceiling of Grand Central terminal. Even the bodice of her dress, which featured an art deco pattern realized in crystals, was inspired by New York, modeled after the architecture of the Empire State Building. And of course, the tiara atop her head added to the Lady Liberty theme. All Lively needed was a torch to carry through the night.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Much like Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker has fully cemented herself as a Met Gala staple, one who always shows up on-theme, even when so many others ignore the guidelines. This year was no different when Parker arrived on the red carpet in a Christopher John Rogers ballgown, immediately invoking the Gilded Age with her dress’ silhouette. When Parker spoke to reporters on the carpet, she revealed the backstory of the gown, inspired by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a seamstress, civil rights activist, and author, who made history as the first female Black fashion designer to work in the White House. Keckley was born into slavery, but later raised the funds to free herself, in part through her work as a seamstress. In 1860, she got the opportunity to design a dress for Mary Todd Lincoln. The two became close and Keckley went on to design multiple gowns for the First Lady. Roger’s design for Parker was inspired by one specific dress Keckley made, a green and white checkered three-piece ensemble with buttons down the front. Rogers explained to Vogue that he chose that specific look as inspiration because it was in his wheelhouse of plaid and taffeta, though he decided to exaggerate the silhouette and modernize it by adding a low-cut neckline and ditching the cape. Still, the inspiration remains obvious. “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,” Rogers said.
Emma Corrin may not have showed up in a ballgown with an aggressively corseted waist or a bustle that extended a foot out behind them, but the actor did manage to reference the theme brilliantly, albeit in a less obvious way. Corrin arrived at the Met steps for their Gala debut in a quirky look from Miu Miu. The star of the show was an oversized, double-breasted plaid coat, but underneath, Corrin wore a black vest and shorts, white tights, and some very authentic looking lace up pointed-toe boots. They then finished off the look with a sky high top hat. If you’re not sure who Corrin is referencing with this ensemble, don’t worry, it’s a bit of a deep cut. The actor was inspired by Evander Berry Wall, a New York socialite from the 1880s, who was also known as “The King of the Dudes,” a moniker that was embroidered on the inside of the plaid coat. Corrin spoke about Wall on the red carpet, saying he allegedly used to change outfits at least 40 times throughout the day, and he became known for his “extravagantly refined look.” Corrin was specifically inspired by an old drawing of Wall, which portrays him in a plaid coat and top hat, just like the actor.
If Hailey Bieber’s look didn’t scream Gilded Glamour, that’s because it shouldn’t have. While Bieber was inspired by fashion history, her reference came way over a century later than the night’s theme suggested. Bieber’s silky Saint Laurent halter gown was inspired by Jerry Hall, specifically a dress the supermodel wore at the Saint Laurent couture show in 2002. It’s unclear why Bieber chose this look as inspiration, considering the theme, but hey, a gorgeous dress is a gorgeous dress.
Bieber was hardly the only one to reference more-recent fashion history at the Gala. Jenner attended the event in an asymmetric butter yellow Oscar de la Renta gown with a crystal-encrusted hem. While she didn’t reveal her inspiration for the look, it seems clear the momager was channeling Jackie Kennedy, who wore a very similar dress during a White House Dinner in 1961. Jenner, who is known for her dark pixie cut, even wore a longer wig with flipped out ends for the evening, mimicking Jackie O’s own style.
By now, you probably already know the inspiration for Kardashian’s look at the 2022 Met Gala. Much like her mother and Bieber, the reality star ditched the idea of Gilded Glamour and instead chose to revive a gown from 20th century fashion history. After much speculation, the rumors proved to be true when Kim arrived on the red carpet in the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy at his birthday party in 1962. For the evening, Kardashian dyed her hair blonde to match Monroe’s aesthetic, but pulled it back to keep the focus on the gown, which she draped with a fur stole, also owned by Monroe.
Kardashian borrowed the gown from a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Orlando, but as it couldn’t be altered, she had to lose 16 pounds to fit into it. In the end, though Kardashian only wore the piece for a few minutes, due to its fragility. She wore a dressing robe to the museum, changing just moments before she hit the stairs. She took photos and made her way up the red carpet and into the event, where she changed into a replica of the gown. “I’m extremely respectful to the dress and what it means to American history,” Kardashian told Vogue. “I would never want to sit in it or eat in it or have any risk of any damage to it and I won’t be wearing the kind of body makeup I usually do.”