Timothée Chalamet in a Ludovic de Saint Sernin bathrobe? Bella Hadid in Vivienne Westwood corsetry? The internet’s fashion figureheads imagine a style spectacle that might (but probably won’t) happen
We are bearing witness to the slow and painful demise of the red carpet. That’s not to say there’s any less of them, of course, but that the celebrity circus is losing its cultural sway. The Oscars were boring, even despite The Slap, and so were the Grammys and the VMAs – all of which emerged from the pandemic with about as much fanfare as someone blowing a raspberry. Much of this is to do with the fashion on show. Where famous people once dressed in flanks of raw meat, lolloping stuffed swans around their bare shoulders, they now wear sturdy pantsuits and quinceanera dresses, chosen by big brand sponsors and superstar stylists.
For fashion fans, however, the Met Gala’s star is still at a glimmer, with Kim Kardashian’s Balenciaga, Rihanna’s Galliano, and Cardi B’s Mugler dangling a carrot above the keyboards of High Fashion Twitter pundits – even if the event’s 2021 edition left much to be desired. “I’ve got major burnout from the disappointing looks year after year,” says HFT’s @DECOUTURIZE. “At the end of the day these celebrities are very boring!” With hindsight, one of the best moments of last year’s Met Gala was when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to wear a wedding dress splashed with “TAX THE RICH” in blood-red lettering across her posterior. It told us more about AOC than Billie Eilish’s frothy blush gown or A$AP Rocky, who led photographers up the Met’s staircase, tearing off a patchwork quilt to reveal a… black suit beneath.
In theory, this year’s Gilded Age theme could buck the banalisation of the red carpet, rooted in an era of rapid economic growth, where technological innovation, bustles, and gay bathhouses were beginning to blossom. “It was when electricity became a thing, a concept which was first looked on as magic,” social media consultant Iolo Edwards says, detailing how he’d like to see Michèle Lamy in one of Rick Owens’ LED headpieces and Timothée Chalamet in a spangled Ludovic de Saint Sernin bathrobe. “But I hate how people have only taken the upper classes into account. The move of the working classes, from agriculture to industry, probably had a bigger impact on fashion, with early photographs of factory workers in their enormous suits reminding me of Yohji Yamamoto’s draped tailoring.”
There’s no excuse, then, for more nude-illusion gowns – that being said, TikTok thinks Kim Kardashian is going to wear Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress, with Julia Fox in custom Schiaparelli. Since Joan Rivers’ beloved Fashion Police has been replaced by sprawling social media threads, below, we ask the figureheads of High Fashion Twitter to wager their bets on the upcoming Met Gala, imagining a fashion extravaganza that might (but probably won’t) happen.
BELLA HADID, BY @THEKIMBINO
“So I’d like to see some archival Christian Lacroix. I recently did a TikTok about him specifically with mention of the Met Gala! Although he’s super problematic, I think John Galliano’s AW97 archive at Christian Dior is brilliant for the theme. But Charles James’ archive is right at the top of my list – like number one – and if I was a celebrity I would pay top notch for a gown by him. Other archial pieces, like McQueen at Givenchy, would be great! Generally speaking, archived looks would always be at the top of my list, but I know how impossible it is to get into them!
I think whoever goes with Daniel Roseberry has the potential to really stunt, especially with his metal work. Christopher John Rogers has such a strong design language and technique in the way he constructs his clothes that would work really well for the Met, too. Otherwise, Moschino could be a real hit or miss in terms of being really literal in the interpretation. Vivienne Westwood would also be really brilliant – I would love to see Bella or one of the supers wearing her designs. Otherwise, anyone wearing Glenn Martens’ Gaultier is gonna make a real statement.”
NAOMI CAMPBELL, BY @MUGLERIZE
“What I would like to see is, of course, archival Christian Lacroix. Specifically pieces from either his Prêt-à-Porter collections, or better, Haute Couture, during the mid to late 90s. The reason why I have chosen that specific time period is because the collections were so glamorous, while managing to possess a sense of simplicity that just enhanced and sharpened all that excess. And I know I’m just wishful thinking right now, but I would really love to see Regina King pull something from his archives.
I hope someone flips the theme upside down. The Gilded Age was not just about glamour, jewels, and cinched waists, but it also saw a huge rise in immigration, with most people on the hunt for the American Dream experiencing extreme poverty. So I would like to see someone interpret that part of the era with real senstivity – hopefully in Alexander McQueen’s SS04 collection, Deliverance, which has that same essence and meaning, albeit from a different time in American history.”
KIM KARDASHIAN, BY @IOLOEDWARDS
“Bustles (butt padding) were essential to the womenswear of the era and I’m sure that we’ll see many of them, but I’m looking forward to see how Thom Browne does it. Though it would be funny to see Kim Kardashian un-reverse her (alleged) brazilian butt lift with one, I think it would be much more on brand for Thom to have a queen like Miss Fame or Symone to wear one with a bare flat chest, queering up the history. Otherwise, should Timothée want a bit of modesty from his towel, once inside he could wear Balenciaga couture by Demna, razor-cut leather bathrobes, and of course an oiled chest could be noted as a nod to Rockefeller’s monopoly on the resource in the press release.”
DOJA CAT, @IDESERVECOUTURE
“I think it’s a common story at this point that a lot of celebrities are just gonna gloss over the theme. That’s just what happens at the Met – especially with Gilded Glamour because people are just gonna hear the glamour part and run with it, they’re not gonna pay attention to the time period. With that being said, there’s two designers I really want to see. One of them is Vivienne Westwood – she’s one of the rare designers who understands history and uses it in an interesting way, and I can imagine Doja Cat pulling from her collections. The second designer I’d like to see would be John Galliano. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, as we all know about what happened in 2011, but his clothes from that period would fit perfectly with the theme, particularly on Bella or Imaan.”
“With the red carpet theme being ‘gilded glamour/white tie’ I expect to see a lot of spot-on literal nods to the aesthetic of the gilded age. Bustles, mutton sleeves, elegant, over-the-top gowns, and sharp tuxedos. I’m anxious to see what Christopher John Rogers comes up with – as his purple plaid bustle gown was on display for last year’s Lexicon of Fashion – and I would LOVE to see Tracee Ellis Ross in one of his designs. I’d also love to see Zac Posen take on a gilded age dress. Otherwise, it would be good to see some playful, campy interpretations of the theme – like, I can’t wait to see Daniel Roseberry’s take, ideally on Lizzo – or a nod to gilded age sportswear. I would also love to see Black attendees interpret the theme through the lens of Black style, culture, and climate of the time (the end of Reconstruction, the emergence of the Black elite mirrored by voter suppression, segregation laws, the second Morrill Act, etc).”
ANOK YAI, @DECOUTURIZE
“I’m not one to desire a narrow interpretation of the theme, I hope there are some non-literal interpretations. Especially when the theme is so very American. Though the Gilded Age is of course a specific historical moment, it is defined by dressing styles and features that exist across many different cultures at many different points in time - dramatic silhouettes, corsetry, gloves, hourglass shapes. We seem to be in a bit of a corset renaissance as it is, with a lot of brands having put various examples in recent seasons. I immediately think of Christopher John Rogers’ corsets and the recent Miss Sohee collection, which was inspired by Korean folk art and embraces similar silhouettes to the era. I’d love to see some custom Schiaparelli too – I feel like Roseberry’s Elsa-esque touch could produce a wonderful interpretation on Anok Yai. I feel like on fashion twitter we have a tendency to overestimate celebrities in the run up to the Met Gala, and it ends up being the most unimaginative, randomised-Sim-type looks you could imagine. We can pray, though!”
SYDNEY SWEENEY, @FENDIFAGUETTE
“The Met Theme is quite confusing for some, but for those who know how to research and collaborate it’d be an easy task. Kim Kardashian is always a noted figure, and due to a recent Instagram story, and an elusive hint in an interview about a “delicate” piece, she’s probably wearing archive Alexander Mcqueen. I would like to see her embrace that classic silhouette in a gown from the SS07 collection. Bella Hadid has been a fixture on the Vivienne Westwood runway for the past few seasons, her anachronistic aura matches well with the costumery made famous by Westwood in the early 90s. Maybe a piece from AW94 would suit her well or a custom gown to match Bella’s gothic style. Sydney Sweeney is a rising starlet and a consistent Miu Miu girl on the red carpet – I expect to see something along the lines of the reworked collections for the costumes of The Great Gatsby with a turn of the century flair. At this point, the fashion is anyone’s guess, but it’s a great way for celebs and designers to flex their creative muscles, explore a secretive and opulent era in our country’s history.”