The Meanings Behind This Year’s Met Gala Outfits, Explained

Going beyond 'Gilded Glamour'.

When it comes to the Met Gala, one cardinal rule rings true: Go hard or go home. Whether that’s fully embodying the costuming theme to near Hunger Games levels, or interpreting the assignment in new and unique ways, our breath is always taken away. 

But the thought-provoking hidden meanings behind the outfits have the potential to give us a whole new perspective on something, be that an issue, or a place in time—this year’s theme, ‘Gilded Glamour’, did just that. 

As Sarah Jessica Parker famously explained of the annual event’s white-tie theme: “It is an assignment and you should interpret it, and it should be labour intensive, and it should be challenging.” 

‘Gilded Glamour’ was intended to pay homage to the US in the 1870s through to the 1890s—it was a period of rapid prosperity, industrialisation and growth. But the choice in theme drew its fair share of criticism—labelled as “tone deaf”, many fans and followers of the prestigious event called out the fact that right now, the US and many other countries around the world are grappling with an economy crisis and widespread inequality.

So, with this in mind, some of the A-list guests interpreted the theme with their own spin, while other’s fully embraced the silhouettes synonymous with the time. Others ignored the theme altogether (SJP is shaking), but we’re not talking about them—below, we round up the most meaningful outfits from the 2022 Met Gala red carpet.

More from the 2022 Met Gala

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Sarah Jessica Parker 

We could hardly dive into the round-up without first examining the outfit belonging to the most meticulously on-theme celebrity herself. Sarah Jessica Parker wore a unique black and white creation by Christopher John Rogers featuring a corset-style top, off-shoulder sleeves and a billowing skirt. 

Make no mistake, it’s a major serve in itself, but the look is even more memorable when you dive deeper. Rogers and Parker were inspired by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, an enslaved women who later became the official dressmaker of Mary Todd Lincoln, and the first Black female fashion designer in the White House. 

“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 explained to Vogue. 

Suffice to say the final look is stunning—they definitely understood the assignment. 

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Riz Ahmed

Upon first inspection of British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed, one might have thought he’d mistaken the red carpet for a simple night out with friends. His understated look wasn’t your typical Met Gala ensemble, but that was actually the entire point. 

“This is an homage to the immigrant workers who kept the Gilded Age going,” Ahmed told host Vanessa Hudgens. 

Styled by Julie Ragolia, the outfit itself was nothing like any of the costumes that surrounded it, but it spoke words much louder than any others could. Bravo. 

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Billie Eilish 

Alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Billie Eilish was probably on par as the most outwardly on-theme. The 20-year-old singer instantly stood out in a Gucci gown featuring a fitted bustier and satin skirt. She added a choker that was equal parts punk as it was period. If the Victorian age had rock stars, Eilish was one of them. 

Explaining her choice in outfit on the red carpet, she revealed the unique gown was actually entirely upcycled.

“I just wanted to be as eco-friendly as possible,” she explained. 

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Blake Lively

She was one of the first people on the red carpet, but it quickly became apparent that Blake Lively was one of the best dressed of the evening. 

As the Gossip Girl star stepped out arm and arm with her husband and fellow co-chair Ryan Reynolds, a collective breath was drawn from all corners. Her Atelier Versace gown featured intricate jewelled detailing with a warm rose satin wrap pulled across her waist, falling back into a long train. 

But we barely glimpsed the stunning design before it changed completely. With the helping hand of red carpet aids, Lively’s rose-train had turned luminous sky blue with bicep-length gloves of the same hue.

“Instead of looking to fashion to influence the dress, I looked to New York City architecture,” Lively explained to The Cut

She added that the colours of the flowing bodice and skirt reflected the constellation from Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. 

To add, her majestic headpiece, designed by Lorraine Schwartz, had seven tiers, an homage to the Statue of Liberty’s seven rays, which represent the sun’s rays and the seven continents. The crown also had 25 stones, in recognition of the landmark’s 25 windows. 

(Credit: Getty)

Gabrielle Union

Much like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax The Rich” slogan at last year’s Met Gala, Gabrielle Union utilised the fact that millions of eyeballs were watching the evening unfold by making a memorable statement with her stunning red carpet look. 

Union wore an eye-catching Versace sequin gown, which featured a glimmering fitted silhouette with a long flowing white train and a bright red flower sitting strikingly on her hip—the latter feature’s meaning stood out the most. 

“When you think about the Gilded Age and Black and brown people in this country, this country is built off of our backs, our blood, sweat and tears,” Union explained.

“So we added these red crystals to represent the blood spilled during the accumulation of gross wealth by a few during the Gilded Age, off of the backs of Black people and people of colour in this country.”

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