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These Met Gala attendees made social commentaries with their unique looks

This year’s Met Gala theme was Gilded Glamour, a homage to the Gilded Age, but these guests decided to take the platform to give important social messages.

Last night the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held its annual Gala with the top celebrities and personalities of the moment. The theme for the most exclusive fashion event of the year was Gilded Glamour, a homage to the extravagant Gilded Age in the US that went from the 1870s to the 1890s.

It was a time of rapid development and prosperity coming from the industrialization of the country and although many attendees took the theme literally and delivered gorgeous attires inspired by the fashion of that era, many others decided to actually expose the immense inequality and lack of diversity that characterized the Gilded Age.

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As a matter of fact, social criticism and commentary come inherently in the name itself. The celebrated American author Mark Twain, coined the period Gilded Age as criticism and mockery of the time. While, in fact, cities like New York were having a rapid growth it all came at the cost of inequality and political corruption at the hands of greedy entrepreneurs and politicians seeking to amass big fortunes; which they did.

This particular aspect of the ‘glamorous’ (for just a few privileged) Gilded Age, raised criticism when it was announced as the theme of this year’s Met Gala, especially when the country, and the world in general, are facing one of the worst economic crisis and inequality in over a century. Being such a flamboyant and excessive event it seemed offensive to many, and many attendees understood the issue it comes with and took the red carpet to expose some social issues, both current and contemporary to the Gilded Age.

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Mayor Eric Adams

One of the first guests that showed a clear message on the Met Gala’s red carpet was no other than New York’s mayor, Eric Adams. He arrived at the museum wearing a hand-decorated jacket with motifs paying homage to NYC’s transit system on the lapels and arms. On the back of the jacket, he had an even more concise message; the coat read “End Gun Violence” with bright red lettering.

Hilary Clinton

The former first lady made a surprise appearance at the event wearing a red gown that, at first look, didn’t say much about the theme. However, on a close look, it had hand-embroidered names made by her designer Joseph Altuzarra. But what were those names? According to Clinton herself, she wanted to add the names of “gutsy women” that represented the women’s liberation movements. Some of them included names like Madeline Albright (former secretary of state), Abigail Adams (second first lady of the US), Harriet Tubman (abolitionist and political activist), Rosa Parks (civil rights activist), and Lady Bird Johnson (former first lady of the US).

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Riz Ahmed

Again, at first sight, it just looked like the British-Pakistani actor had just chosen a simple outfit that had nothing to do with the theme or the glamour of the Met Gala. But it was actually a very well-thought and well-researched outfit. Riz Ahmed wanted to pay homage to the millions of immigrant workers that made the growth of the country possible during the Gilded Age: “I was trying to elevate and celebrate working-class immigrants.” A strong and concise message that is still relevant in today’s world.

Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker went for something extravagant as she usually does; however, more than the grandeur of the theme or the nature of the event she wanted to pay homage to a person that is often forgotten by fashion history and history in general. Parker and her designer Christopher John Rogers were inspired by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, an enslaved woman that became the official White House dressmaker. She would dress Mary Todd Lincoln becoming the first Black female designer to work for the White House. According to Rogers, “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.”

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Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union had one of the most gorgeous outfits of the night yet one of the strongest and heartbreaking messages of them all. She walked the red carpet with a sequin Versace gown adorned with a bright red flower right above her hip. She wanted to represent the disparity and racial discrimination “black and brown” have lived throughout the history of the country. As she explained, “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.” The red crystals 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 color in this country.”

Cynthia Erivo

In the same fashion, Cynthia Erivo wanted to pay homage to the invisibilized black people of the time with a stunning white dress and headpiece “inspired by women of Louisiana from the 1800s, who had to cover their hair for necessity.” She added that women don’t usually get the credit they deserve in the fashion industry and the headpiece came to represent all those women that also made the country grow.

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Quannah Chasinghorse

Last but not least we have the supermodel and activist Quannah Chasinghorse, who since last year’s Met Gala made all eyes turn towards her. Instead of following the mainstream Gilded Age fashion, she took the opportunity of the ‘In America’ theme to proudly pay homage to her indigenous roots. As a member of the Hän Gwich’in and Oglala Lakota tribes, she adorned her gorgeous turquoise gown with a hand-made necklace that “represents her communities love and support.” Last year she had declared: “no way am I celebrating America. If I were to celebrate anything it would be my Indigenous roots, my Indigeneity, who I am. Because of what America did to my people, I am proud to be here today... My ancestors had to go through so much genocide after genocide after genocide.”

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