the Met Gala
has returned to its typical first Monday date in May this week and celebrities have honored this year’s theme “golden glamor”
with a narrow waist, fluttering flaps and plenty of tulle.
Some A-list participants, however, interpreted the theme through the lens of marginalized people whose work made the golden age of the late 19th century so prosperous for white Americans. Read on to find out what made these looks so meaningful to the celebrities who have worn them.
Gabrielle Union’s subtle nod to the black communities of Gilded Age
Gabrielle Union’s Versace dress was designed to resemble a dress that the late pioneer Diahann Carroll once wore. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for The Met Museum / Vogue
Gabrielle Union, in a silver Versace dress with a feather train and an oversized red flower at the waist, shone at the Met Gala in homage to black Americans of the Gilded Age.
“When you think of the golden age and the blacks and browns in this country, this country is built with our backs, our blood, sweat and tears,” Union told red carpet host LaLa Anthony. “So we added these red crystals to represent the blood shed during the accumulation of gross wealth by a few during the golden age, off the shoulders of blacks and people of color in this country.”
Although middle-class and elite black communities existed in parts of the United States in the 19th century, as illustrated HBO’s “The Gilded Age”
segregation and institutional racism it kept most of the black Americans away
enjoying the same economic success as American whites.
Union said the look also honored the deceased Diahan Carroll
one of the first black actresses to star in a primetime sitcom, who she wore a similar dress
(complete with red flower) in 1960.
Riz Ahmed honors the immigrant workers of the 19th century
Riz Ahmed, with a simple look modeled after 19th-century work clothes, said she wanted to honor immigrant workers. Credit: John Shearer / Getty Images
Covered with a dark blue silk shirt, high boots and a “underrated”
Cartier necklace, the British Pakistani artists
she said her dress was a “cry to immigrant workers who have kept the golden age” in a interview
“It’s what makes the city work,” he said of the immigrant communities that have long been integral to the success of New York and other metropolitan areas throughout history. “I’m just trying to celebrate and elevate that immigrant culture.”
Millions of immigrants
moved to the United States during the golden age, contributing to an economic boom in which most immigrant workers could not participate. With low wages, dangerous working conditions, and a lack of support from their new country, the immigrant workers who made the United States a titan the industry was at a disadvantage.
Angelo Urrutia, the American Salvadoran designer whose 4S Designs brand created Ahmed’s look, She said
on Instagram that immigrants “made the golden age [sic] and all ages “.
Sarah Jessica Parker highlights a 19th century black fashion designer
Sarah Jessica Parker’s Christopher John Rogers dress was modeled after a dress made by Elizabeth Hodds Keckly, a black fashion designer who worked in the 19th century. Credit: Taylor Hill / Getty Images
Wear a black, white and gray block dress (topped with a flamboyant hat, as Parker is wont to wear) courtesy of Christopher John Rogers
the “Sex and the City” star e frequent guest of the Met Gala
honored a black designer whose work predates the golden age.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly
the first black woman to design clothes for White House residents like First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, she designed a similar dress
– percale, with a voluminous bustle – for Lincoln in 1862, a few years before the technical start of the golden age. Rogers’ interpretation was a contemporary nod to Keckly’s pioneering work, he said.
“The idea was to highlight the dichotomy between the extravagant and exaggerated proportions of the time period and the disparity that was happening in America at the time,” said Rogers. Rowing
Questlove’s coat was designed from black women’s quilts in Alabama
Questlove’s coat was designed with the help of black women’s quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for The Met Museum / Vogue
the matte black oversized coat is a practical fashion with hundreds of years of history behind it.
The deceptively simple style was created in collaboration by designer Greg Lauren and the women of Gee’s Bend
, a historically black community in Alabama. The residents of Gee’s Bend have since 1800
created intricate quilts for practical purposes, although more recently they have gained national attention as examples of textile art.
“I wanted to represent, you know, for African Americans in this country,” the recent Oscar winner She said
on the red carpet of the Met Gala. “The periods of Gilded are a little different for our stories. I wanted to highlight the black women who sacrificed themselves for the country.”