Fashion / Style

What on earth is Gilded Glamour? A deep dive into the 2022 Met Gala theme

With early confirmation that Zendaya and Rihanna won't be attending the Met Gala, the former due to conflicting schedules and the latter because she's preparing to give birth in Barbados, the 2022 festivities are anyone's game. Although considering the 2021 turnout, we're questioning whether anyone else has the range?

Look, we're not saying we can read Anna Wintour's mind, but what we are saying is that last year's fashion was a mixed bag. We had our favourites of course; Iman was a vision in Harris Reed, Lil Nas X brought the drama, Lupita Nyong'o consistently hits the brief and Rihanna, always Rihanna. Anyone dressed by Saint Laurent, Thom Browne, Oscar de la Renta, Rick Owens, Balenciaga or Area also cut through. But there were some who appeared too casual. Timothée Chalamet's tongue-in-cheek "suit" for example and every other man flying under the radar with plain black and white tailoring. Now the celebrities want to be relatable? I don't know about you, but as a spectator the enjoyment of the Met Gala comes from its potential for fantasy. I don't want to see loungewear on the red carpet. Working from home we witness enough of it everytime we step past a mirror. We want the celebrities to perform, to use their influence to pull extravagant outfits that inspire, thank you very much. This is the single reason why we still care about the Met Gala.

It's on these grounds that we're unsurprised by the specificity in which Wintour laid out this year's theme. Gilded glamour. White tie. It's hard to misinterpret the theme when it's put in terms as simple as these. Plus there's no leeway for track pants with white tie: I'm looking at you Chalamet. But what does gilded glamour and white tie actually mean? How does this play into part two of In America, the Costume Institute's exhibition? And how will this translate on the Met Gala red carpet? Here's what you need to know.


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What is gilded glamour?

Coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in the title of their joint 1873 novel, the term refers to the period of time in which the book is set. So the United States following its Civil War. While the Gilded Age itself refers to the years between 1870 to 1900.

At the time, there was a huge wealth disparity between those existing in the Southern states compared to the living in the Northern and West parts of North America where industrialisation combined with new railroads lead to great economic growth. Twain and Warner set forth to comment on this disparity, and thus their satirical novel was born, with the term 'gilded' meant to show how wealth and glamour was used to conceal the social unrest and turmoil of the era. Much like Reagan's America.

Gilded glamour then references the fashion of the time. Think The Age of Innocence and yes Bridgerton, if was set across the Atlantic that is. We're expecting corsets, gowns that are literally coated in gold and beauty looks to match, and effervescent materials. However, some Met Gala guests may loosely base their look off the period (if at all, as we've realised), looking to other great American epochs for inspiration in line with the Costume Institute's exhibition theme In America: An Anthology of Fashion.


What does white tie mean?

As we've previously noted, the dress code is lot more severe than those of recent years thanks to explicit instructions from Anna Wintour. White tie is the whole shebang. For those in suits, it means coattails and a thousand-piece tuxedos. As far as gowns and dresses go, if guests adhere to the gilded glamour cue then it's very likely that they'll present in white tie, as the two go hand-in-hand.


What designers will attendees wear?

If we're looking to past runways for inspiration, we'll no doubt see at least one delicious moment from Schiaparelli Spring 2022 Couture. At least that's what we're hoping for. In the wake of Virgil Abloh's passing, we're curious if there'll be any homages to the designer in the form of Off-White. But aside from the usual suspects, there were a handful of gowns from Glenn Martens Jean Paul Gaultier Couture show, as well as Rick Owens Fall 2022 that would be perfect for this year's Met Gala theme. In all honesty, some attendees can just repurpose their outfits from last year's Gala. We can't help but think that Iman, Precious Lee and Lil Nas X's 2021 Met Gala looks fit the theme of gilded glamour to a T.

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