Billie Eilish attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" exhibition on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Billie Eilish went full glam in a huge peach ball gown at the pandemic-delayed Met Gala on Monday night (Sep 13), while fellow host of the evening Amanda Gorman was breathtaking in blue custom Vera Wang with a diamond laurel wreath in her hair.
Co-host Timothee Chalamet raced onto Fifth Avenue to take selfies with fans before walking up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for his entrance after a marching band and gymnast kicked off the long-awaited evening. Last year's gala was cancelled due to the pandemic.
This year's official theme of the fundraiser for the museum's Costume Institute was "American Independence", leaving plenty of room for interpretation. Just ask Lil Nas X, who did a Lady Gaga-esque strip tease on the carpet in gold Versace, from cape to armour to embellished jumpsuit.
Eilish, the belle of the ball, wore Oscar de la Renta. She told Vogue: "It was time for this. I feel like I've grown so much over the last few years."
Chalamet had sneakers on his feet but diamonds on his look. Chalamet called his look "a bit of everything", just like America.
Gorman's dress, which included more than 3,000 hand-sewn crystals, was made to evoke a starry night sky. She told Vogue she felt like Lady Liberty, reimagined. Her crown, the star poet said, was a nod to publishing. Another of the hosts, Naomi Osaka, wanted to celebrate all her cultures – Japan, Haitian and the US – and picked a Louis Vuitton gown designed in collaboration with her sister, Mari Osaka. It was a swirly blue, aqua and purple print with long black ruffle sleeves and a wide red sash.
If this gala produced a trend, it's huge statement sleeves, with some stars and stripes thrown in. There was a smattering of red, as in the red, white and blue of the American flag. Karlie Kloss wore red Carolina Herrera with huge ruffles at the neck and sleeves. Jennifer Hudson also chose red sans sleeves.
Also in red: Ella Emhoff, the daughter of the country's second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and Vice President Kamala Harris. She wore a trouser look with a sheer top and a crystal design in all the right places.
Dan Levy took the party's theme to the extreme in a blue confection from Loewe. It had, according to the brand, "printed leg of mutton sleeves" on a polo shirt with an applique of two men kissing.
Leon Bridges, meanwhile, honoured his home state of Texas in a white cowboy hat and a blue suede fringe jacket. "It's all about embodying the aesthetic of Texas," said Bridges, with jewels in his hair.
Yara Shahidi wore silver custom Dior complete with a head piece. She said she was inspired by Josephine Baker. Emma Chamberlain went for a gold mini with cutouts at the waist and chunky mirror and chain detail. Harris Reed put Iman in a huge golden hat.
Gala overseer Anna Wintour arrived early with a wave to the crowd accompanied by her pregnant daughter, Bee, in a floral design with ruffles at the neck.
Along with oh-so-many jumpsuits, there were plenty of classic red carpet looks and a wave of gold, the latter including a Peter Dundas look worn by Mary J Blige. It plunged to the belly button and beyond at the front and back. Megan Fox, fresh from her appearance at the MTV VMAs, also wore embellished Dundas, a red body hugger with criss-crossing at the front and sides.
MJ Rodriguez, the Pose star and first transgender performer to pick up an Emmy nomination in a major acting category, wore an old glam, black-and-white corseted look from Thom Brown. The designer called it a modern-day twist on classic American sportswear. She attended the gala with purpose.
"Not a lot of trans girls like myself get this opportunity," she said. "The human condition is what I'm here for."
US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up in an Aurora James gown of white with a message splashed in red across the back: "Tax the Rich".
The evening had its share of what-the-heck moments, like a couple of horse heads on dresses and a green-haired Frank Ocean carrying a fake baby with a green face to match. Thom Browne gave the walking fashion statement Erykah Badu an extra-tall top hat with a bulky black look, a bunch of crystals and chunky bling around her neck.
Her purse was a black leather dachshund.
Dundas also dressed Ciara, who honoured Seahawks hubby Russell Wilson with his No 3 emblazoned on her lime green sequined gown. She added a little something extra – a Super Bowl ring – and carried a bedazzled purse in the shape of a football.
She said the designer was inspired by the sporty vibe of the late great Geoffrey Beene.
The gala, which raises money for the museum's Costume Institute, was pushed last year from its traditional May berth and morphed this year into a two-part affair marking the institute's 75th anniversary. It coincides with the opening of "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion", the first of a two-part exhibition at the Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center.
Organisers invited 400 guests, or about a third the number that usually attend.
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