From vintage looks to ensembles created in tribute to significant moments in history, celebrities, stylists, and designers sourced inspiration from a number of places for the 2022 Met Gala red carpet. With the dress code theme, “Gilded Glamour,” the high-profile attendees climbed the iconic steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in their most opulent garb, paying homage to American fashion luminaries.
From Kim Kardashian exemplifying quintessential Old Hollywood glamor in Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 Jean Louis dress, to Gabrielle Union honoring the inimitable actress Diahann Carroll, the stars did their homework for the stylish soirée.
Stepping out on the first Monday in May dressed in fantastical creations with deep-rooted meaning, A-listers set out to celebrate the museum’s latest exhibition in looks that deserve a double take. Below, GRAZIA USA takes a deep dive into the inspiration behind the best fashion moments at the 2022 Met Gala.
Kim Kardashian in Vintage Jean Louis
To celebrate American fashion, Kim Kardashian channeled icon Marilyn Monroe for this year’s Met Gala. Slipping into the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress’ 1962 Swarovski-embellished Jean Louis dress, originally sketched by Bob Mackie, the gown’s reputation preceded itself.
Monroe wore the dress to serenade President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden for his 45th birthday 60 years ago. Unable to alter such a piece of history, Kardashian lost 16 pounds to fit into the dress. “It was such a challenge. It was like a role. I was determined to fit it!” Kardashian told Vogue on the carpet.
Gabrielle Union in Versace
Not only did Gabrielle Union look stunning on the red carpet, but her custom Atelier Versace gown carried a deep meaning. According to Versace, the shimmering, plunging V-neck crystal mesh gown with a cascading, floral and feathered train “gives tribute to the changing roles of women and the emerging Black activism which occurred during the Gilded Age.”
Union told Vogue‘s livestream, “When you think about the Gilded Age and Black and Brown people in this country, this country is built off of our backs, our blood, sweat and tears.” She went onto explain, “We added these red crystals to represent the blood spilled during the accumulation of gross wealth by a few during the Gilded Age, off of the backs of Black people and people of color in this country.”
She added, “This is inspired by [actress] Diahann Carroll, a symbol of opulence and if you will, a gilded glamor.” Teaming up with her stylist Thomas Christos Kikis, the gown mimicked a portrait of Carroll from 1960, shot by Gene Howard. Photographed in an ivory, strapless column gown with an elongated train, Carroll’s vibrant red flower emblazoned on her waist gives the image a memorable pop of color.
According to Versace, “An embroidered red flower at the waist pays direct homage to a gown worn by Diahann Carroll—a women’s rights activist and first African-American woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.”
Hailey Bieber in Saint Laurent
Taking to the red carpet in an ivory, slinky halter-neck gown designed by Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello, Hailey Bieber definitely epitomized the glamorous component of the theme of “Gilded Glamor.”
Bieber mirrored a look worn by the legendary model Jerry Hall for YSL’s Spring/ Summer 2002 Haute Couture presentation, even adding a dramatic white feathered cape like Hall wore. “I loved that reference and I’m super happy how it came out,” Bieber told Vogue on the carpet.
Emma Corrin in Miu Miu
Referencing the New York socialite, Evander Berry Wall, The Crown star Emma Corrin arrived to the 2022 Met Gala perfectly on theme in custom Miu Miu.
Wall gained a reputation for his taste in fashion during his life from 1860-1940, and became a significant sartorial influence in the Gilded Age. Corrin worked with stylist Harry Lambert on the look consisting of a wool tartan jacker, a black wool cotton vest and shorts, and ivory ribbed tights, which paid homage to a 1888 fashion illustration of the “King of Dudes.”
In the 19th century, the word “dude” was used to described a gentleman with refined style. At the ready with a custom Worth & Worth top hat, Corrin’s jacket also had, “The King of Dudes” inscribed inside rounding out the reference.
Tapping beloved American designer Christopher John Rogers to help bring her vision to life, Sarah Jessica Parker wanted to pay homage to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley at the 2022 Met Gala. An African-American dressmaker, known for her striped gowns with 1860s bell silhouettes, Keckley’s booming dressmaking business made her a favorite among First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, and a prominent trailblazer in history.
“She designed all of Mary Todd Lincoln’s clothes. She’d been born into slavery and bought her way out of slavery and had an enormously accomplished and inspiring and extraordinary life,” Parker told the Vogue livestream on the red carpet. “So, this dress I thought was really exquisite and pretty much fit the period of time of which Andrew Bolton had focused this exhibit. And so, I asked Rogers to be part of it and he’s amazing and he did it.”
Jodie Turner-Smith in Gucci
For Jodie Turner-Smith‘s Met Gala debut, the actress looked to the Golden Age of Hollywood for her fashion inspiration. Styled by Wayman and Micah, Turner-Smith sported a custom Gucci crystal chain bra with a swinging fringe skirt, plus a chiffon open skirt with a pieced, cascading train. With a sprinkle of golden gilded eyebrows and classic finger waves, Turner-Smith opted for Gucci High Jewelry baubles in white gold, rich rubies, and shimmering diamonds.
“The inspiration for the dress was very ’30s, ‘40s era musicals, à la Busby Berkeley,” said Turner-Smith while speaking with Vogue’s livestream from the carpet.
An American film director and musical choreographer, Berkeley’s grandiose and elaborate work in productions from Footlight Parade and The Gang’s All Here helped solidify the look of the era, immortalizing the glamor of the showgirl.
Met Gala co-chair, actress Blake Lively’s Atelier Versace dress shut down the red carpet when she unwrapped her rose gold, bustled skirt to reveal an oxidized green train. “I arrived copper and like classic New York City architecture, I patinated,” Lively said on Vogue‘s livestream.
Essentially a love letter to New York City, Lively paid tribute to the Empire State Building with her gown’s beaded detailing, the State of Liberty with her crown and train’s color reveal, and Grand Central Station, with the embroidery on her train mirroring that of Grand Central’s celestial map-painted ceiling.
Practically Lady Liberty herself, Lively’s crown adorned seven spikes to mimic that of the Statue of Liberty’s which represents the seven seas.
Lively was catapulted to fame in 2007 after starring in the cult-beloved, quintessentially-New York series Gossip Girl. “It’s the place I choose to live — it’s the love of my life, other than my family. I really wanted to celebrate the city that’s given me so much,” explained Lively.