Celebrities Reference Historical Figures, New York Landmarks at the Met Gala
The 2022 Met Gala red carpet was full of historical references, with celebrities using the “Gilded Glamour” dress code to pay homage to popular figures and historical landmarks.
Perhaps Monday night’s most memorable and headline-making celebrity reference came from Kim Kardashian, who closed out the Met Gala red carpet alongside her boyfriend, “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson. Kardashian had arguably one of her most iconic looks on the red carpet, wearing the vintage Jean Louis and Bob Mackie crystal-embellished, beige dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 when she famously sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.
Met Gala co-chair Blake Lively also used the red carpet to make a historical reference. The actress wore a custom Versace copper-toned gown embellished with mirrors, crystals and sequins, plus an oversize bow that was later untied to reveal a copper-to-blue ombré dress. The overall look referenced many New York City landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal.
Here, WWD looks at the many ways celebrities referenced historical figures and New York landmarks with their 2022 Met Gala looks. Read on for more.
Blake Lively in Versace
Lively made her much-awaited Met Gala return this year as one of the event’s co-chairs. (Her last Met Gala appearance was during 2018’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” theme.) Known for her lavish, standout Met Gala looks, Lively didn’t disappoint in a custom creation by Versace. Lively’s copper-toned tulle column gown was embroidered with crystals, metallic leather and sequins and featured an oversize bow.
After walking up the Met steps, Lively’s bow was untied to reveal a new dress: this time a copper-to-blue green ombré gown with crystal embellishments.
The entire look was meant as a celebration of New York City landmarks, architecture and artistry, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal. The dress’ bronze-to-blue green color was meant to mirror the Statue of Liberty’s own transformation from its original bronze color to the aged patina seen today.
The dress’ train also featured crystal embellishments inspired by the 12 zodiac constellations, which are found on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal.
Kim Kardashian in Vintage Jean Louis and Bob Mackie
One of the night’s most standout fashion moments came from Kardashian, who closed out the Met Gala red carpet paying homage to Marilyn Monroe.
The reality TV star-turned-entrepreneur wore a vintage Jean Louis and Bob Mackie-designed crystal-embellished beige dress, the same one famously worn by Monroe when she serenaded President John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday in 1962.
Kardashian is the only person other than Monroe to wear the delicate garment, which is valued at $10 million and features 6,000 hand-sewn crystals. She furthered the homage to Monroe by dyeing her hair a platinum blonde hue and pairing the dress with a small white jacket.
Alicia Keys in Ralph Lauren
Keys also paid homage to New York City with her Met Gala look, wearing a custom silver, crystal-embellished gown and black cape by Ralph Lauren. Keys’ cape was also embellished in crystals, which were placed to illustrate the New York City skyline.
According to Ralph Lauren, the dress was made with 30,000 transparent crystal stones and black lacquer sequins, while the cape featured more than 200,000 crystal stones.
Kris Jenner in Oscar de la Renta
While Kim Kardashian paid homage to Marilyn Monroe, her mother Kris Jenner gave a nod to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy in a custom Oscar de la Renta gown. Jenner’s gown was designed in a light yellow hue and featured a one-shoulder design and crystal hem details. Jenner styled her hair in a short, flared bob similar to Kennedy’s signature hairstyle.
Hillary Clinton in Altuzarra
Former Secretary of State Clinton returned to the Met Gala for her first time in 21 years Monday night, looking to designer Joseph Altuzarra for a custom look. The designer created an off-the-shoulder Bordeaux silk duchess satin dress and embellished the neckline and hem with handwritten names of 60 American women who have inspired Clinton. The names include Harriet Tubman, Mary Oliver and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, among others.
Billie Eilish in Gucci
Eilish made her second Met Gala appearance Monday night, this time wearing a Regencycore-inspired gown by Gucci. The gown was a custom upcycled ivory and duchesse satin corseted dress that featured green lace underlay sleeves and an ivory bustle skirt.
Spectators were quick to note the dress’ historical references online, namely the dress’ similarity to an 1885 portrait of Madame Paul Poirson drawn by famed artist John Singer Sargent. The portrait is on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum.
Sarah Jessica Parker in Christopher John Rogers
Parker was another celebrity that made their Met Gala return Monday night. The actress, known for wearing lavish gowns and fascinators at the event, didn’t disappoint with a custom look created by Christopher John Rogers. The dress was designed with a black, white and gray gingham design and featured a voluminous skirt. Parker complemented the look with a black, white and pink feathered fascinator by milliner Philip Treacy.
Rogers’ dress was an homage to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, the first Black female fashion designer to work in the White House. Keckley, who was formerly enslaved, moved from Virginia to Washington, D.C., in 1860 and was the official dressmaker for former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. The dress referenced a black-and-white gingham dress Keckley had designed for Lincoln during the Gilded Age.
Kylie Jenner in Off-White
Unlike the other celebrity historical references, Jenner’s Met Gala homage was a recent one to the late Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November.
Jenner wore a custom Off-White bridal gown inspired by the wedding dress presented in the label’s fall 2022 collection, which was one of Abloh’s last designs for the brand. Before the 2020 Met Gala was canceled due to the pandemic, Jenner and Abloh were planning on attending the event and walking the red carpet together.
The bridal gown is dubbed the “Poetry Dress” and features a handmade bustier, a ruffled organza skirt and spray-painted graffiti detailing. Jenner paired the look with a snapback that featured a mesh white veil.
Riz Ahmed in Angela Urrutia
Ahmed went with a more casual Met Gala look, but one with a powerful message. The Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor paid homage to the immigrants of the Gilded Age period in a custom Angela Urrutia look, which consisted of a navy button-down shirt left open to reveal a white undershirt and matching navy trousers. He wore the look with black leather knee-length boots.
Gabrielle Union in Versace
Union paid homage to Diahann Carroll — the first Black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and a women’s rights activist — with her custom Versace Met Gala look.
The custom look, which also paid tribute to the changing roles of women and emerging Black activism during the Gilded Age, was a silver, hand-linked mesh dress with a plunging neckline paired with a satin-effect Lurex train that was embellished with hand-embroidered crystal flowers. The dress was finished with an embroidered red flower at the waist, which is said to be a direct reference to a gown worn by Carroll.
Phoebe Bridgers in Jonathan Simkhai
Musician Phoebe Bridgers paid homage to artist Keith Haring and model Grace Jones with her custom look by Jonathan Simkhai. The halter-top dress featured the distinctive patterned body painting Haring famously drew on Jones, which Simkhai replicated with crystal embroidery.
Hailey Bieber in Saint Laurent
Bieber stunned on the Met Gala red carpet wearing a custom Saint Laurent look by creative director Anthony Vaccarello. The dress was an ivory silk halter gown paired with an ivory silk cape embellished with ostrich feathers.
The Saint Laurent dress was a reference to a near-identical look worn by model Jerry Hall on the Yves Saint Laurent spring 2002 runway.
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