With fame and fortune apparently also comes some deeper level of art-appreciation and metaphorical thinking. I note this after scrolling through the outfits from the recent Met Gala and feeling like a total idiot.

I’ve stated before, I’m a fashion-no-sta. And I am also not an art person. I’m that basic white girl, standing in the fancy art gallery—likely there just for the free wine—looking at a painting of a black dot in a white box. The crowd around me murmurs appreciatively about the “profound deeper meaning” and “subtle nuances of rage” reflected in it, while I’m the dummy going, “um … it’s a black dot in a white box. Hello?”

 What’s going on at the Met?

So, when things like the Met Gala happen, I’m utterly at a loss. How is this fashion? How is this art? How is she wearing that – it literally defies gravity?

And I need to acknowledge that, yes, I understand most of the looks at this event are meant to be Significant (capital S intended), not necessarily fashionable. They represent some point of view, a political or social statement, and, much like a Transformer, they are more than meets the eye.

 But, huh?

But see above. When it comes to art, I’m incredibly literal. Hit me over the head with your message – otherwise I will never get it. If it’s not plainly spelled out for me, then all I see is the emperor’s new clothes. And I feel like I’m a fair representation of most of America. 

So, when it comes to things like the Met Gala, where the rest of America is not included in the joke, it’s often a hard thing to appreciate. We see all this money and effort and reporting and energy and breast-lift tape and photography and fancy bottled water and hair spray… all of it is spent on what ends up just being to most Americans: “things weird, rich, famous people do in their spare time.”  

Which makes me wonder, if you have a statement piece that no one understands, does it make a sound?

So, let’s look at a few examples.

Looks even *I* understood

I love Debbie Harry. And I love how easy her message is here. A bell skirt reminds me of the old south. The denim top is very all-American cowboy. A ripped red and white stripe speaks to a battle-worn flag.  I see this as a note that our country is in conflict (yet again) with ourselves and we need to tread carefully, lest we implode. Is that a lot for a dress to say? Maybe. But that was a lot of dress.

I’m thinking she would like equal rights for women. Carolyn Maloney was less than subtle in her commentary, but I do appreciate her literally spelling out something that has been overlooked for decades. Maybe now someone will get the message.

The dress that was heard around the world. 

First of all, this is a gorgeous dress, regardless of the social statement. Second of all, who knew AOC has political ideologies? This should surprise absolutely no one. To me, AOC’s main message isn’t necessarily her dress message. It’s more that we’re living in a time where we don’t have time for subtle messages. Whether I agree or not, good for you, AOC, for putting it out there. It beats putting “JUICY” on your ass.

Looks I *THINK* I get … so … points?

I was glad to see so many dresses make use of those tissue paper flowers kids make in preschool. Nice comment on recycling. I assume. But in terms of other, more specific statements…

Oh, Dan Levy. While this is not my favorite David look (boy, you should just keep to the black and white theme you perfected on Schitt’s Creek), I do, at least, get—and appreciate and approve of—your message. The sleeves? Well. Okay. It’s “fashion.” Sure.

I totally admire Teyana Taylor’s courage, her rockin’ figure, and this is easily the best shiny bikini since Return of the Jedi (although when it comes to Star Wars fashion, I think we can all agree, no one beats Lil Naz X). But my best guess about her stance is that she’s making a bold statement about how global warming is causing the clothes to literally melt off our backs? Or just wants to show off her rockin’ figure, in which case, rock on girl.

One of my favorite statement pieces was worn by Sharon Stone, who boldly noted you don’t have to flip your illusion box inside-out and turn into David Blaine to be magic. Or maybe she’s a dalik.

Just no clue…

This reminded me of that famous scene from Carol Burnett where she’s re-enacting Gone with the Wind and she comes down in a set of curtains complete with the rod. “I saw it in the window, and I couldn’t resist.” I presume Rihanna saw the dust ruffle on her California King and couldn’t resist?

Diane Kruger seemed to be making a play to say, “Keep the “sexy” in Spirit Halloween store costumes.” In case you are unfamiliar with this cause, Spirit Halloween stores create “sexy” versions of every normal Halloween costume out there, yet every year, fewer and fewer sorority girls take advantage of this good deed. So, this was a very important statement piece indeed.

Natalia Bryant was doing her part to protect the disco ball from definite extinction, while Alicia Keys showed off what to do when you can’t bear to leave your bubble-bath at home.

Ciara portrayed her passion for what I assume must be her fantasy football team: The Florida Keylimes, while Dee Hilfiger showed off her passion for what I assume must be the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, circa 1812.

Lorde had a truly eye-catching look. All skin and silk yet the highlight of this look was that glittery Target bag wearing a cape.

Fashion (foot) forward

Clearly the star of the event was this black and white sock, worn by three separate celebs.

But even then I have so many questions. If I wear this sock, am I cool, too? Did they all agree on the same side? Why that side and not the other? Why did only three people wear it? Did they all go in on a four-pack and the fourth person changed their mind at the last minute? Is Whoopie Goldberg wearing the fourth sock under her purple pinata? Does the person who finds the fourth sock get a golden ticket and will someday inherit the Met Gala?

While puzzling out that question, among all the others unanswered quandaries that the 2021 Met Gala brought us, I leave you with this:

Fight for your right to be a carousel horse while wearing grandma’s shower curtain. I presume.

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About Lily Winters

A full-time copywriter, Lilly Winters lives outside Washington, D.C. in a house full of animals—which include her husband and teenager. Under a different name, she’s written a book of short stories, a Young Adult novel, and was most recently published in Gravity Dancers. Lilly Winters isn’t posting her real picture because it’s possible she is currently wanted by the Mexican drug cartel. It’s also possible she watches too much Ozark.

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