After being postponed in 2020, the Met Gala 2021 returned with a new theme that celebrates American fashion in its first-ever two-part exhibition. The first part, which opened September 18, 2021, is titled “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” Anna Wintour, the Gala’s chairman and Vogue’s editor-in-chief, explained that the exhibition looks toward the future of American fashion. This aforementioned future hinges on the fashion industry becoming more sustainable. As a star-studded, major fashion event, the Met Gala has the potential to set new sustainable standards for brands in the fashion industry.
The 2021 Met Gala seemed to be planned with sustainability in mind, featuring a vegan menu, natural centerpieces, and some of the most sustainable looks we have ever seen grace the Met. For the first time ever, the Met served an entirely plant-based menu created by 10 up-and-coming New York City chefs. The event is normally catered but this year’s decision to get plant-based chefs goes with the theme of modern America and explores issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Anna Wintour wanted the menu to highlight where the food industry is moving toward and what modern Americans are craving and eating. Our food industry is one of the most prominent industries contributing to pollution and climate change. To combat this, there has been a much-needed industry shift to include more plant-based and sustainable options.
The vegan menu highlights a similar shift happening in the fashion industry as many American designers are ditching fur and leather for other natural and vegan alternatives. The decor even had the planet in mind, for example, the Grand Oak centerpiece. This centerpiece was significantly different from the Met’s typical giant, ornate structures. The giant oak tree was made of recycled materials and was surrounded by a field of wheatgrass. The Oak Tree is America’s national tree and represents the strength and endurance of the American people. The Met Gala typically takes place on the first Monday in May, but due to COVID, the 2021 Met Gala took place in the Fall for the first time ever. The centerpiece represents both the Met Gala’s fall debut as well as the changing of the seasons—a sign that life always goes on.
Image: Vogue, Hunter Abrams
Explore below the best sustainable looks from the Met Gala 2021.
Image: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Billie Eilish in Oscar De La Renta
Vegan singer Billie Eilish made animal activists across the world proud last night. Eilish applied pressure on the creative directors at Oscar De La Renta to make a policy change and terminate all fur sales in exchange for her wearing their dress. Eilish’s team informed the creative directors that she doesn’t work with brands that use fur in any capacity. The brand obliged and Oscar De La Renta will now join Versace, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, and Gucci as major fashion houses that have permanently dropped fur from their luxury lines. Eilish stepped out on the red carpet wearing a stunning Marilyn-Monroe-inspired peach tulle ball gown with a 15-foot train. As a 19-year-old star, Eilish is the youngest person to ever co-chair the Met Gala. Anna Wintour was also dressed in Oscar De La Renta for the Met Gala 2021.
Adam Mosseri in Bode and Monica Mosseri in Kamperett
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, and Monica Mosseri, Mosseri's wife, graced the Met Gala 2021 stairs in two powerful sustainable looks. A Bode suit made of repurposed vintage fabrics, Adam’s geometric, orange and white suit was a playful pop of color among a sea of classic black tuxedos. Beside him, Monica Mosseri wore a Kamperett gown created from dead stock materials. Kamperett is a new sustainable brand that releases collections in small batches to minimize waste.
Maisie Williams strutted the red carpet in a Matrix-inspired black bodysuit and train combination designed by her boyfriend, Reuben Selby. His debut collection uses Infinite fiber, a material created from cellulose-rich waste. Williams is a vegan and a sustainability ambassador for H&M.
Images: Gotham/GC Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Nia Dennis in Stella McCartney
Gymnast Nia Dennis backflipped and cartwheeled down the Met Gala Stairs and onto the red carpet wearing Stella McCartney x Adidas. The Adidas line by Stella McCartney is made from post-consumer waste like plastic water bottles. Stella McCartney worked with Anna Wintour to create an inspiring, opening spectacle for the Met Gala 2021. A 30 person marching band took over 5th Avenue, all wearing custom red, white, and blue Adidas by Stella McCartney jumpsuits and Earthlight Trainers. The band accompanied Nia Dennis as she performed an incredible gymnastics routine at the steps of the Met. A nod to Dennis' gymnastics background, the bodycon allowed her to go straight from her routine to the red carpet. After her performance, Dennis covered the jumpsuit with a sheer blue rhinestone net gown and carried a vegan leather Falabella bag, a Stella McCartney Classic.
Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Ella Emhoff and Julia Garner in Stella McCartney
Ella Emhoff, Kamala Harris’s stepdaughter, made her Met Gala Debut in a stunning red monochrome look complete with a diamond mesh cutout bodysuit, oversized trousers, and custom Stella McCartney shoes made with recycled yarn and recycled midsole. Julia Garner, a prominent actress in the hit show Ozark, wore a white bodysuit underneath a sheer, sparkly Stella McCartney Gown. Stella McCartney, a leading luxury brand for vegan and sustainable fashion since its beginning, celebrated American fashion and 20 years of Stella McCartney by showcasing “sustainable sports performance-wear” at the Met Gala 2021, dressing three young women, each one representing a color of the American Flag.
Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Addison Rae in Vintage Tom Ford
Social Media star Addison Rae made her Met Gala debut in a vintage 2003 corseted red gown by Tom Ford for Gucci, inspired by Britney Spears crimson gown from the 2002 Grammys. Instead of wearing something new like the other stars, she rocked a used dress and proved second-hand is a solid option for every occasion.
Image: Connor Ives Instagram
Natalia Bryant in Conor Ives
Natalia Bryant, the daughter of Vanessa and Kobe Bryant, made her debut Met Gala appearance in a floral sequined gown produced from recycled PET plastics. This gown was the finale dress for Ive’s Fall 2021 debut American Dream collection in which all pieces were made from recycled, dead stock, and vintage materials. The piece will be featured as part of the museum’s exhibition.
Image: Kevin Mazur/Mg21/Getty Images for the Met Museum/Vogue
Kim Petras in Collina Strada
Kim Petras strutted down the red carpet in a “Horse Girl'' outfit designed by Collina Strada. This 3D silicone horse head bustier was paired with a dramatic print skirt making this one of the campiest looks of The Met Gala 2021. To top off the look, Petras styled her hair in a long, mane-like braid. Collina Strada is an incredible new brand that describes its purpose as “a platform for climate awareness, social awareness, change, and self-expression.” The brand is implementing new sustainability practices like rose silk materials, an organic fiber made from rose bushes and stems, as well as dead stock fabrics and recycled cotton.
Image: Theo Wargo
Lorde in Emily Bode
Lorde wore an Emily Bode custom embroidered two-piece set that celebrated the Arts and Crafts movement. The antique colorful embellishments date from 1890 to the present. This was the first of two sustainable looks for Lorde at the Met Gala 2021.
Lorde in Collina Strada
Lorde later changed into a Collina Strada printed gown for Kacey Musgraves’s Met Gala after-party at The Standard. The Penny-shaped purse is a camp nod to the American theme. Collina Strada is a New York-based brand that uses dead stock and other sustainably sourced materials. Collina Strada also designed the iconic yellow two-piece that Lorde recently wore in her “Solar Power” video.
Image: John Shearer
Maria Sharapova in Gabriela Hearst
Former world tennis champion Maria Sharapova floated down the red carpet of the Met Gala 2021 in a beautiful rich yellow gown by Gabriella Hearst. The dress was created solely from up-cycled materials. Since the launch of the brand in 2015, Gabriella Hearst has focused on sustainability and ethical production. Her Spring Summer 2021 collection, shown at Paris fashion week, was comprised of 60% dead stock materials and was a carbon-neutral runway show.
Image: John Shearer
Gillian Anderson in Chloé
Emmy award-winning actress Gillian Anderson was dressed in a charcoal grey Chloé dress made of repurposed organic silk. The dress has a halter neckline with an ammonite shell at its center incorporated into the dress using hand-knotted, macrame techniques. Chloé is one of the first luxury brands to become B Corp certified. The brand focuses on four pillars of engagement to ensure sustainable and ethical products: fair and equal opportunities for their people, responsible sourcing, positive impact on communities, and impact on the planet. Chloé is a stand-out brand in the ethical fashion sphere. Their ultimate purpose is to create “beautiful products with meaningful impact.”