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In a world clouded by tragedy, events such as the Met Gala offer escapism through their celebration of couture and self-expression. After a year of absence due to the pandemic, the iconic Met Gala made its return on Sept. 13.

This extravagant occasion is usually held every year on the first Monday of May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Guests are expected to dress in a way aligning with a predetermined theme.

Aside from the Met Gala being an evening dedicated to honoring the most popular names in fashion, it is a charity event that raises money for the museum. 

This year’s theme was “In America: A Lexicon in Fashion,” commemorating the most prestigious designers in American fashion. According to a Vogue interview with American fashion journalist and former creative director of Vogue André Leon Talley, “Everyone who is anyone comes to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the annual fundraising gala.” 

The event celebrated the new exhibition of the Costume Institute and its changing theme.

Although this year’s theme and execution were arguably lackluster compared to past years’, there were many looks that simply blew the others out of the water. Here is a ranking of my top five personal favorites from this year’s gala.

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Starting at the fifth spot is Kendall Jenner, who wore a custom sheer Givenchy gown encrusted with crystals, complimented by a neckpiece covered in jewels. According to Amy De Klerk from Harper’s Bazaar, this look was inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s unforgettable dress from “My Fair Lady.” 

Coming in fourth is Lupita Nyong’o, who rocked the red carpet in a Versace denim dress. The actress nailed the theme, as denim has reigned as a staple fabric in American fashion.

The third spot goes to Jennifer Lopez, who stepped out in a Ralph Lauren ensemble. According to Tiffany Dodson from Harper’s Bazaar, the look included “a studded bracelet and belt, brown beaded gown, and faux-fur jacket.”

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Runner up is a two for one, as Stephen and Ayesha Curry made their Met Gala debut. The power couple lit up the red carpet as Ayesha stunned in an intricate dress made by Atelier Versace that was covered in bedazzled detail, while Stephen wore a simple black suit with gold embellishment. 

The top spot goes to the iconic supermodel Iman. The timeless beauty dropped jaws as she set the red carpet on fire in a Harris Reed collaboration with Dolce and Gabbana. According to Amy de Klerk from Harper’s Bazaar, “the model wore a completely handmade crinoline and gold leaf gown, jacquard bustier and flares, with an enormous statement hat which Reed created in collaboration with Vivienne Lake.”

Other celebrities that turned heads included Kim Kardashian-West, who wore all black Balenciaga from head to toe, making herself unrecognizable. Teyana Taylor showed up in a silver gown with cutouts and an exaggerated train by Prabal Gurung, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caused a major uproar as she wore a white gown with sizable, red letters on the back reading “Tax the Rich.”

Ocasio-Cortez sent social media into a frenzy, as many questioned the intent behind her dress, since she attended an event that was flooded with wealthy people. Despite the congresswoman’s contentious choice of attire, her look conveyed her interpretation of the theme and of American politics -- even if she did have to literally spell it out.

While some people may criticize this event as a bit pretentious, there is no denying that the Met Gala is one of the most talked-about nights of the year. For a few short hours, we were able to slip from our daily studies for the opportunity to indulge in one of the biggest nights in fashion.