Hearing that the dress code for the 2022 MET gala was “The Gilded Age”, you were probably expecting a season 3 of the Bridgerton series on the red carpet. But, much to your surprise, many of the outfits you saw were not even close. While it has almost become a trend for some celebrities to dress off-theme to the gala, this was not the case. The Bridgerton series was intended to represent the regency era (the early 1800s), which differed from the gilded era, which began in the late 1800s. Contrary to popular belief, many of these celebrities were dressed appropriately for the occasion. Their outfits may require a bit more of a backstory for you to understand. Here are two examples that stood out to us.
Statue of Liberty meets the Empire State building
You’d agree that Blake Lively stole the show before it even began in her bronze and green Atelier Versace dress. Beyond how stunning the dress was, there was so much more to it. Her dress was a tribute to New York City, home of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire state building. This is because New York City was pivotal in the development of the Gilded Age, particularly in terms of fashion, and Lively brought the entire city to the red carpet in her gown. The large bronze bow on her dress was unfolded to reveal a green train to represent the oxidation of the once bronze Statue of Liberty over time. She also wore a Lorraine Schwartz crown that was bronze and green to match her dress but also had seven spikes to mirror Lady Liberty’s crown, which has seven spikes to represent the seven seas and continents. The Lorraine crown also had 25 stones to match the famous landmark’s 25 windows.
The Empire State Building’s architecture was brought to life on the front of her gown, while the 12 zodiac constellations seen on the ceiling of New York’s Grand Central Station were displayed on the train of her gown. There must have been an intended pun somewhere in there. It’s the attention to detail in her ensemble that stands out to us. Her look was bursting at the seams with creativity and finesse, from her dress to her crown to her nails and even her clutch, which was designed to look like the Brooklyn Bridge.
Not so lost fashion history
With how glamorous and extravagant fashion from the gilded age was, it’s easy to have been distracted by the socialites of this period who were always finely adorned. However, actress Sarah Jessica Parker chose to remind us of some brilliant people who have been overlooked throughout history and without whom such high fashion in that era would not have existed; the black dressmakers. Parker paid tribute to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a philanthropist, author, and successful seamstress best known as the personal modiste and confidante of then-First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. It is worth noting that Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was the first black woman to work as a dressmaker in the White House.
Sarah Parker collaborated with black designer, Christopher John Rogers to recreate one of Keckley’s designs and make a statement to acknowledge the inequality of that era. The dress was a black and white plaid dress with a fitted top, ball gown style skirt with a train, and was modernized so that Roger’s design did not require the cape. Rogers hit the nail on the head with this one because Keckley was known for using plaids in her designs. We approve!