Old Hollywood Rules the 2021 Met Gala’s Americana Theme

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America’s lexicon of fashion clearly has firm roots in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Now that 2021’s extra-anticipated Met Gala has come and gone, industry experts (along with the entirety of Twitter) have begun an obligatory sweep of the looks and their references. Among the myriad of faux-pas and celebrated looks alike, a core theme has surfaced: the forever romanticized Hollywood glamour.

But can you really discuss American fashion without paying homage to the Marilyns and Audreys of history? Especially when it comes to evening wear and iconic gowns, emulating celebrity fashion from the ’30s to ’50s is a must. Experience the time-warped red carpet from last evening yourself, with 21st century icons and their references below.

Billie Eilish as Marilyn Monroe

Shock ensued when Billie Eilish‘s massive tulle gown arrived on the Met steps. Looking soft, very blonde, and so ’50s, Billie’s ensemble affirmed her departure from a teenage era of emo and neon green. Clad in custom Oscar de la Renta designed by Co-Creative Directors Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, her parallels with American sweetheart Marilyn Monroe were no secret. Every detail aligned with the film star’s signature look, aside from the massive train preventing any chance of Billie’s dress flying up.

Gemma Chan as Anna May Wong

“A trailblazer, fashion icon and woman ahead of her time – she paved the way for those who came after and continues to inspire,” stated Gemma Chan while announcing the inspiration behind her 2021 Met Gala look—Anna May Wong. In collaboration with Prabal Gurung, the pair channeled Wong, the first Chinese-American film star of Hollywood’s golden age, in a beautiful gown. Most directly paralleled in the design is Wong’s signature dragon motif, famously showcased in her look from the 1930s.

Yara Shahidi as Josephine Baker

Yara Shahidi‘s tribute to Josephine Baker was truly a flashback to the ’30s. From her posing and accessory choices to actually replicating a Christian Dior look with Dior, Shahidi nailed her portrayal of the famed entertainer. Though Baker was known for her sensation in France, the singer-turned-civil rights activist was American-born and an institution for U.S. culture as well. Right on theme, Yara.

Kendall Jenner as Audrey Hepburn

It’s a miracle that Kendall Jenner was the only attendee to recreate an Audrey Hepburn look. Wearing a blindingly-sparkly Givenchy gown conceived by Creative Director Matthew Williams, Kendall blew social media away with her interpretation of Audrey’s beautiful Cecil Beaton ensemble from My Fair Lady in 1964. Capped sleeves, a vast neck-piece, and a mirrored pattern of jeweled embellishments graced Kendall’s look for a perfectly re-imagined replica.

Chloe and Halle Bailey as Marilyn Monroe and Tina Turner

Recent breakout R&B stars, Chloe and Halle Bailey, took to their very first Met Gala with archival references to boot. Both dressed by sister-duo Rodarte, the pair dually alluded to ’50s film and ’60s music. Chloe opted for a white gown reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, while Halle selected a bodysuit akin to the style of Tina Turner. Icons all around.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin

While Aretha Franklin is not herself a member of Hollywood’s Golden Age, an inclusion of Jennifer Hudson’s homage to the ’60s R&B icon was beyond necessary. Following the release of her film Respect, Hudson arrived at the Met Gala donning a burning red AZ Factory look and subsequent extension of her character—Aretha. Wearing AZ Factory to the Gala was a simultaneous tribute to Alber Elbaz, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Kaia Gerber as Bianca Jagger

Another lookalike moment that isn’t quite Golden Age of Hollywood but worth a mention is Kaia Gerber‘s reference to Bianca Jagger. Collaborating with Oscar de la Renta in reviving Jagger’s Halston look from the 1981 Met Gala, Kaia was nearly her spitting image forty years later. 2021 is evidently the year of archival restoration.

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