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‘Gilded Glamour:’ What exactly is this year’s Met Gala theme

Gilded Glamour is this year’s Met Gala theme which honors the time of economic growth in the US during the late 19th century.

This year’s Met Gala theme is part two of what we saw last year belonging to curator Andrew Bolton’s exhibition In America: An Anthology of Fashion. The two-part sartorial art exhibit explores the origins of American fashion, and this year’s Gala will focus on the Gilded age, thus the pompous name Gilded Glamour. Now, many would think (and it’s likely many attendees who don’t care much to investigate the theme) that the theme is all about gold or even a reminiscence of that Great Gatsby aesthetic, but that’s not accurate at all.

What and when was the Gilded Age?

The Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain as social criticism, is that period between the 1870s and the 1890s when America saw economic growth due to industrialization processes. It was a time of excess, extreme materialism, and consumption, as well as flamboyant and extremely luxurious lifestyles... well, if you were privileged enough to be part of the American Elite. It was the time of the resurgence of the biggest moguls in American history like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, but also a time of ludicrous corruption, all for the sake of greed.

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What was fashion like during the Gilded age?

Now, how was the fashion during that time, and what does the theme will ask attendees of the Met Gala to represent? Just as entrepreneurs rapidly amassed insanely big fortunes, and the biggest cities of the country experienced rapid growth, not only in economic ways but also quite literally in terms of big urban architecture buildings, fashion also had a huge change that reflected that growth. Clothes became bigger and more extravagant in shape and fabrics. Trends involved the usage of silks, tulles, laces, and velvet.

Men adopted the tuxedo fashion from England, and women as well embraced the English trend of formal and extravagant hats and big bustles, the iconic padded undergarment that was used to add volume to the big skirts of dresses. It was also a tie when sportswear became a must in every socialite wardrobe both for men and women, which had to do with their economic assets giving them more time for leisure.

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The Gilded age saw the birth of one of the biggest fashion editorials in the world, Vogue, thus the importance of the period in fashion history and the relevance of this year’s Met Gala theme.

What type of clothes are we going to see at the Met Gala?

As mentioned, the Gilded age was all about pompous attires, so if the attendees did their homework and don’t simply go for the name trap and wear golden outfits, we will likely see lots of corsets, bustles, long gloves, and high necklines. In terms of textures and fabrics we’ll likely see tons of ruffles, feathers, bows, furs (faux likely, and frills. In the menswear arena, we will likely see classic and long tuxedos, top hats, and white ties and vests as it was fashionable at the time.

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Being one of the most extravagant moments in American fashion history, the theme allows fashion designers to exploit their imaginations and represent the drama and the vividness of the fashion trends of the late nineteenth century rather than simply getting their celebs in historical costumes. What most fashion commentators are expecting is the merging of those unique and iconic silhouettes with modern fabrics and colors that reimagine the fashion fantasies of the time.

Although the theme is exciting in fashion terms it has also caused a lot of distress and anger among social media users who find it particularly out of touch considering the inflation and economical crisis the world, and particularly America is experiencing at the moment. According to numbers, this has been the time with the most economic and social inequality since the actual Gilded Age due to the pandemic and economic crisis derived from it and the war in Ukraine. So, celebs and rich people celebrating a time when inequality allowed them to amass their riches and live that flamboyant life, does put an ironic touch on the theme.

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