As the Met Gala announces its next theme, In America, meet the designers we hope to see represented on the red carpet
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 will be the first year that the annual fashion extravaganza that is the Met Gala will not be held on the first Monday in May. This year it will take place on 18 September and, instead of recycling the theme from 2020’s cancelled event (About Time: Fashion and Duration), a new theme has recently been announced: In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.
This year's theme is part one of two centring around American fashion, with In America: An Anthology of Fashion to be the theme of both the Met Gala and the Costume Institute exhibition it raises funds for in 2022. Undeniably one of the broadest briefs for designers creating red carpet gowns for the event, it represents a challenge both in how to honour American fashion without falling into pastiche and how to then reinterpret a very similar brief in 2022 without repeating themselves or other designers. Will it be all star-spangled banners and cowboy references or will designers stick to finding inspiration in New York's high fashion history?
What we do know, however, is that there are some designers it would be criminal not to see represented at the 2021 Met Gala. Here’s our guide to the American fashion designers of note to look out for on the red carpet.
oscar de la renta
Born in Dominica and trained under Cristobal Balenciaga, like Diane von Fürstenberg, Oscar de la Renta is a designer whose long-standing connection with the American fashion industry, including two stints as president of the CFDA, mean he should not be overlooked when it come to a survey of US fashion history.
A classic couturier in every sense of the word (he designed haute couture collections for Balmain for nearly 10 years before diversifying in to bridalwear), de la Renta brought that traditional appreciation for cut, craft and unparalleled beauty into his ready-to-wear. Similar in aesthetic to Carolina Herrera, his gowns have long been prized among the world’s elite party set for their quality construction and timelessly fabulous design. Drawing on his work is a no brainer for the Met Gala.
The look: Feminine, classy and unerringly elegant.
As current chair of the CFDA, Tom Ford is practically guaranteed to have a strong showing at this year’s Met Gala – and it wouldn't be unwarranted. Having worked at Gucci and Saint Laurent, Ford brought a European sensibility and style to his eponymous brand, which he founded in 2006, and blended it with an overt sexiness that soon found him fans including Beyonce, Julianne Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow. Also a dab hand at tailoring, his suits are favourites of Daniel Craig (who wore them in no fewer than four Bond films), Hugh Jackman and Tom Hanks.
So what might a Tom Ford Met Gala gown look like? Well, if his previous outings are anything to go by, expect plunging necklines (Gemma Chan in floor length silver sequins in 2019), cutaway detailing (Chanel Iman in white feathers in 2012) and plenty of sparkle (Amal Clooney in a stained glass window inspired gown in 2018). Whatever he concocts for 2021, we guarantee it will be memorable.
The look: Sexy, chic and not a tiny bit subtle.