For the first Monday in May, we’re going all the way back to the Gilded Age. On May 2, the Met Gala’s “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” theme will ask guests to adhere to the gilded glamour, white-tie dress code.
“Dust off Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence and House of Mirth,” dictates Vogue. Oh, yes — this theme is about grandeur and glam, reverting to New York in the late 19th century: prosperity, industry, innovation, and, of course, an absolute excess in fashion.
This is the Met Gala, not the Oscars or the Grammys — there should be a lot going on, especially with the Gilded Age theme. This is the night in fashion for celebrities to go entirely all-out, experimenting with couture and playing on the theme. It’s time to go into the archives, dig out the oversized hats and waist-snatching corsets, and definitely leave the sneakers at home (looking at you, Timothée!).
So, what is ideal to wear to the Met Gala this year? Let’s start with this: everything. Not in the literal sense, but in the sense of excess and a fusing of fabrics from an age where widespread textile factories were allowing an influx of elaborate garments. “Women’s dresses often featured a combination of many textiles, like satin, silk, velvet, and fringe, all adorned with over-the-top textures like lace, bows, frills, and ruffles,” as spelled out by Vogue.
Looks from Moschino, Gucci and Simone Rocha
No one puts together lace, satin, and tulle on a bell-shaped skirt better than Simone Rocha. For Spring 2022 ready-to-wear, it was all about corsets and skirts and fabrics and, well, everything on a gown all at once. Look 1 of the collection is a surefire Met Gala winner, and would contend for a best-dressed look on that pink carpet. And, in-line with the unspoken rule of the 1870s that the bigger the bell-skirt, the better, Look 66 of Moschino Fall 2022 ready-to-wear would be nothing short of perfect, giving age-old wealth and glitzy opulence.
The Gilded Glamour-ness means Met Gala dress code should turn out nothing less of the lavish, luxurious, and extravagant. Cue Gucci Love Parade. I would be shocked if the feathery, dramatic gowns of Spring 2022 ready-to-wear didn’t make an appearance at the Met Gala, and crestfallen if Look 63 specifically were to stay at home. Feathers? Check. Drama? Check. Literally gilded and glamorous? Check and check.
The Gilded Age opera had a dress code perhaps even stricter than the Met Gala: for women, tulle was a must. It is one author’s high hope, then, that Look 39 from Christian Dior’s Spring 2022 couture show and Look 1 from Rodarte’s Fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection make an appearance on Monday. There’s no such thing as too much tulle on May 2.
Looks from Christian Siriano, Rodarte and Christian Dior
A staple of Gilded Age glamour was the corset (especially worn with a bustle or bell-shaped skirt). Luckily, modern fashion is in a revival era of corsetry, and collections of the past season were littered with corsets in various avant-garde structures. Look 61 from Christian Siriano’s Fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection would be an instant Met Gala hit, fusing the Gilded Age relics with contemporary, structural embellishments. Balmain nailed corsets at their Fall 2022 ready-to-wear show, even adding extra flair and opulence with a gilded gold, polished armor effect. Look 10? Gilded glamour to a T. Look 54 of Moschino’s Fall 2020 ready-to-wear collection is another hit, with tulle, a tight corset, and the rich, vibrant fabric modish to the Gilded Age (plus, bonus on-theme points for Jeremy Scott being an American designer).
As far as headdresses go, the Gilded Age was all about the drama. “Hats were a necessity when going out and often adorned with feathers,” according to Vogue. Remember Iman’s Dolce & Gabbana x Harris Reed look from the 2021 Met Gala? Yeah, that’s the level of drama a Met Gala hat should have. Look 27 from Schiaparelli’s Spring 2022 Couture show makes for the perfect glamorous hat look: feathery, excessive, bold, and best of all, worn with an on-theme, corseted dress.
“Elbow-length gloves” were Gilded Age staples for the upper echelons, according to Vogue, so it’s a good thing that fashion’s most notorious purveyor of corsetry — Vivienne Westwood — had her eye on the opera glove revival of Fall 2022. With the right accessories (meaning, a lot of accessories), Look 53 of the ready-to-wear collection screams Met Gala perfection: classy, elegant, chic, and perhaps most important of all: actually on-theme.
Looks from Balmain, Schiaparelli and Vivienne Westwood
And speaking of the theme, we can’t forget the white tie of it all. The most formal dress code (seriously, black tie looks like athleisure in comparison) encourages waistcoats, black tailcoats and tailored trousers with a white shirt, white gloves, and a general air of formal evening attire. For the Met Gala, this means that, however fancy of a tuxedo the majority of male attendees would have worn anyway needs to be fancified to the max — but, because it’s the biggest night in fashion, rules are bendable, and boundaries are a little bit pushable. Now is, after all, the time to be experimental and playful with it!
However much of a longshot, it is the top-priority on my wishlist to see a masculine take on Look 30 of Rokh’s Fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection, toying with the corsetry of gilded glamour and hinting at the formality of white tie. I mean, imagine Pete Davidson in the jeweled corset? I’d even take it with the baseball cap on, for him. Look 5 of Thom Browne’s Resort 2022 look would make for a perfect toned-down version, too, bringing corsetry into a more traditional suit.
Looks from Rokh, Thom Browne and Balmain
Otherwise, Balmain does an edgy, deconstructed version of formalwear with their Fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection. Look 3 is perfect for the likes of a certain Chalamet, who has been pushing his fashion forward this season. There’s no night like Met Gala night to go to the extremes…which, of course, means Look 1 of Thom Browne’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection is equally high on my wishlist. Exuding glamour, the abstract take on formalwear still toys with the palette of white tie, but in an entirely different context. Daring? Sure. But guaranteed to make every best-dressed list, too.
Only time will tell who turns it all the way up at the Met Gala, and who plays it safe with the Gilded Age looks. We’re just days away, now, so to any stylists reading this: please feel free to tuck this little wishlist into your pocket.
Photos via Getty
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