Met Gala 2022 Theme: Gilded Glamor Explained

It all goes back to “the most extravagant style this country has ever seen.”

It’s almost the first Monday in May, baby! You know what that means: It’s Met Gala time.

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And, as folks like Sarah Jessica Parker have pointed out, following the theme is a key part of any successful Met Gala look. So, let’s take a closer look at what this year’s “Gilded Glamor” dress code actually means.

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First thing’s first: Let’s talk about the Met Costume Institute’s exhibit. Part one, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” opened last year, and this year’s Met Gala signifies the opening of part two — “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.”

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So what’s the difference between part one and part two of the exhibition? As per the Met, part one “establishes a modern vocabulary of American fashion.” On the flip side, the head curator of the Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, said that “Anthology,” “provides a historical context for ‘Lexicon.‘”

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So, in simple terms, last year was more modern while this year will be more about the history and evolution of American fashion!

Some designers that will be featured in the exhibition include Charles James, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta. However, Bolton stressed to Vogue that the exhibition would be more than the big names typically associated with the time: “A lot of the other names really have been forgotten, overlooked, or relegated into the footnotes of fashion history.”

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“Charles James” was actually the theme of the 2014 Met Gala — the above pics are some of the dresses worn that year.


With that context in mind, the first thing to note about this year’s Met Gala dress code is that it’s white tie. This is basically the most formal dress code you can have: Think tailcoats, white waistcoats, and floor-length gowns.

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The Met Gala isn’t actually always a white tie event: 2014’s “Charles James” Gala was actually the last time it was on the dress code.

Right, so what does this all mean for this year’s “Gilded Glamor” theme? Vogue said that it “will ask its attendees to embody the grandeur — and perhaps the dichotomy — of Gilded Age New York.”

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In short, New York’s Gilded Age refers to a period of rapid wealth and grand building development in the city in the latter part of the 19th century. It’s when still-standing buildings like the Waldorf Astoria and the Metropolitan Club were built.

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However, as perhaps the “dicotomy” Vogue alludes to, the lived experience of those in tenements and sweatshops was quite different from the “grandeur” associated with the era.

Fashion at the time included things like corsets, bustles, gloves, and high necklines. And lots of DRAMA! There’s a reason why Vogue dubbed this time, “The most extravagant style this country has ever seen.”

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So it wouldn’t be surprising for us to see a lot on Monday’s red carpet — think ruffles, feathers, bows, hats, (hopefully faux) fur, and frills.

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For fabrics, a whole bunch of textiles were in use at the time — such as satin, velvet, tulle, and silk — and a more period-appropriate look that would favor rich jewel tones.

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So while we have yet to find out exactly how designers will interpret this theme, it’s fairly safe to say that this won’t be a subtle year for the Met Gala.

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