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The Met Gala 2021: Behind the Lens

The biggest night in fashion took place at the 2021 Met Gala in New York City. This year’s theme was a tribute to historic and modern American fashion.

Photo Courtesy of Obi Does Production

The biggest night in fashion took place at the 2021 Met Gala in New York City. This year’s theme was a tribute to historic and modern American fashion. 

In 2020, the Met Gala was cancelled due to the global pandemic. This year’s theme is paired with The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new two part exhibition, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. Guests were encouraged to wear outfits that relate to American culture.

The itinerary of the night is a mystery to those who have not attended one. Many people are unsure of what to expect. The photos taken inside and on the red carpet tell a story to the world each year.

Obi Does, a sophomore at Howard, is a photographer and was able to capture some of the stunning looks of the night. He described his red carpet experience as, “absolutely hectic… I’m from New York, so I’m used to the city and know how crazy it can be, but I’ve never seen it as chaotic as it was that night. Extremely beautiful high fashion looks accompanied by crazy fans, endless flashing of cameras, and voices everywhere. Also a seemingly eternal onslaught of black trucks transporting celebrities around.”

Most of the focus is on what celebrities are invited and what their attire is. However, an essential part of the Met Gala is the media coverage. Without hundreds of reporters and photographers to capture the moment, the wonders of this extravagant night would remain a secret between guests and the organizers.

“As a photographer it means a lot to me that I was able to shoot these events. I’ve only been building a professional portfolio for 9 months, so to have been able to grace Fashion Week & the Met Gala in the way that I did is an extreme blessing and testament to my hard work. I was surrounded by photographers with years and decades of experience,” Obi said. 

Out of all the photos he took that night, Obi said, “My favorite photo I took at the Met is of Rihanna and ASAP Rocky. It looks almost ceremonial. I feel I captured a very intense and chaotic moment and made it look serene. It’s honestly my favorite celebrity photo.” 

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Photo Courtesy of Obi Does Production

The celebrity guests also make the Met Gala a mesmerizing moment in the fashion world. They are carefully selected and designers work on pieces that make everyone stand out in their own way.

Kaitlyn Gilliam, a senior design major at Howard, analyzed the red carpet looks from a creative’s perspective. She has high expectations from the designers each year.

Kaitlyn believes that designers should, “convey the theme through the clothing and that it is transparent to the audience who are not as fashion forward or historians.” This year’s theme was, “lost amongst many viewers due to it being such a broad topic. Many celebrities had to explain their outfits on social media, which is unseen in the history of the Met Gala.”

There were several guests who wore outfits that stood out to viewers, including Ciara’s green sequin dress, which was a tribute to her husband and Seattle Seahawks football player Russell Wilson. Critics at first disapproved of this dress, however it followed the American theme. The designer, Peter Dundas took inspiration from American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene’s, who in the 1960s designed a Minnesota Vikings jersey dress.

Obi’s favorite look was, “ironically one I never got the chance to capture, Alton Mason’s. He’s the highest paid Black male model in the world and his white diamond encrusted outfit was breathtaking. It paid homage to Michael Jackson and he looked absolutely angelic. I loved the contrast it made with his skin tone. I’m very happy he’s stepping out more into the mainstream spotlight, because I’ve been a fan for a while. I believe the designer was Theophilio, an upcoming Jamaican designer from Brooklyn. Black excellence all around!”

Since the focus of the night is each guest’s outfit, designers are particular about every detail.  

For Kaitlyn, “Iman’s outfit was definitely a favorite. It was dramatic and glamorous as the met gowns are usually. It was undeniably elegant, made by Dolce and Gabbana.”

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The 2021 Met Gala was a celebration of fashion, American culture, and the ability for creatives to come together and celebrate their work. The reporters and photographers who attended allowed people at home to get a glimpse of the most grand appreciation of fashion today. Despite any critic’s opinions, each guest and designer expressed their idea of American fashion and ideals.


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