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The Winners and Losers of the 2021 Met Gala

It wasn’t the first Monday in May, but it was fashion’s biggest night, defined by Kim Kardashian in a mask, Lil Nas X in a C-3PO suit, and Nicki Minaj not showing up at all

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Ah, the Met Gala is back.

Fashion’s biggest night may have happened a little later than usual this year, and it may have been a little more boring than usual, but it did happen. Celebrities showed up wearing silly clothes, and we got to sit on our couches in yesterday’s boxers and judge them for it; nature is healing, etc., etc. From Lil Nas X’s costume changes to Rihanna’s delayed entrance, here are the winners and losers of the 2021 Met Gala.


Loser: The Theme

This year’s Met Gala was always going to be a weird one; it is, after all, far from the first Monday in May. But even without the delayed date and a long list of COVID restrictions, the theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” would have struggled to live up to the drama of years past. Visually, it was far too vague—some attendees chose looks from American designers that aesthetically didn’t fit a unified theme, and others wore looks from international designers inspired by pretty much anything they considered to be “American.” Some people just wore red, white, or blue. And as always, some people ignored the theme altogether. All in all, not everyone’s best effort. (Which, actually, is very American of them. Maybe this was the point.)

Winner: Old Hollywood Tributes

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Host Billie Eilish turned the most heads with a jaw-dropping Marilyn Monroe moment, but she was far from the only attendee to look to old Hollywood starlets for some American-themed inspiration. Emily Blunt recreated Hedy Lamarr’s look from Ziegfeld Girl; Yara Shahidi and Anok Yai both paid stunning tribute to Josephine Baker; and Gemma Chan referenced Anna May Wong’s iconic dragon-print gown. Granted, Hollywood isn’t inherently American—Kendall Jenner didn’t quite get there with her take on Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady—but we’ll give everyone points for getting close and looking amazing.

Loser: Nicki Minaj’s Cousin’s Friend’s Testicles

Apologies to anyone who showed up during the first two hours of the Met Gala—no one on Twitter noticed your arrival because they were too busy discussing Nicki Minaj’s reason for not attending. It turns out the rapper is unvaccinated against COVID-19 because she still needs to do her own research, which, for now, seems to be limited to an anecdote about her cousin’s friend’s huge testicles. I don’t want to think about this any longer than I have to. Responsible and vaccinated Barbz everywhere are mourning.

Winner: Intergalactic Fashion

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

But lo—Barbz, look upon your king. It’s unclear how Lil Nas X’s C-3PO-esque style fit into the “America” guidelines, but we’ve transcended such limits and moved into the realm of celebs who ignored geographic limits in favor of the galaxy beyond. Joining Lil Nas X in the intergalactic fashion sphere was Grimes with a Iris van Herpen dress and a sword (it’s Grimes—it would’ve been weirder if she didn’t have a sword) and Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer in creepy-chic alien cosplay. Iman’s massive headpiece and hypnotizing, undulating gown was quite possibly visible from space, and Lorde gave us another Solar Power moment in her own bejeweled headpiece. Points awarded for creativity, if not accuracy.

Winner: Literally Just Hot People Being Hot

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

As payment for having to explain Nicki Minaj’s absurd drama, this is where I get to thirst over whomever I want for exactly one paragraph. Listen, we’ve been inside for a long time. Even at the Met Gala, sometimes it’s enough just to get to look at hot people in nice outfits on red carpets again, thematic or not. So Megan Fox, please know that I would try to fight Conor McGregor for you too. And let us also take a moment to regard elite internet boyfriend Lee Pace and his sexy, all-American knees. These knees are from Oklahoma! They count!

And here is a screenshot I took of Zoë Kravitz and Tessa Thompson looking like they’re absolutely ruining someone’s life. (It’s me, I’m someone.)

Finally, shout-out to fashionable space emperor Timothée Chalamet and three-quarters of his outfit. I will not be acknowledging the Converse.

Loser: WTF Choices

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by John Shearer/WireImage

There is not much I can tell you about why Frank Ocean brought a fake green baby to the Met Gala. (Is it Annette-core? Who’s to say?) I can tell you that it matches his hair, and that it moves. When Keke Palmer asked Frank about the baby, he simply said, “Movie magic. America.” Then he pivoted to telling Keke how much he loves her. Which, OK, same. But please explain the baby.

But Frank wasn’t the only one who sparked many, many questions. Kim Kardashian also showed up wearing … well, this:

Is it weird that Kim started taking direct fashion cues from Kanye West after divorcing him? Maybe this is who Zoe and Tessa were staring at.

Winner: The Yeehaw Agenda

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

What’s more American than a tribute to the wild, wild west? Nothing, I thought—but for the first several hours of the night, sweet Leon Bridges was the only cowboy on the carpet. But nay (neigh?), J.Lo finally rolled up in stagecoach chic and the yeehaw agenda lived to ride into another sunset. Special shout-out as well to Kim Petras, who decided to go full horse girl:

File the denim lovers under the yeehaw category as well: Ben Platt, CL, and Lupita Nyong’o all showed up in America’s favorite fabric.

Loser: [Whispers] Rihanna

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage

As long-suffering livestream hosts Keke Palmer and Ilana Glazer wrapped up and signed off the Vogue red carpet at approximately 9:07 p.m. Eastern, Twitter experienced a collective wave of panic. Where was Rihanna? Was she not coming? Why had we all thought she was? Was she unvaccinated? What was the point of a Met Gala without Rihanna? What was the point of living? But nearly an hour later, as we’d all begun to make our peace with a cruel and unforgiving god, a commotion at the Carlyle Hotel soothed our fears. Rihanna was coming, she was just incredibly late. All was well! Then she arrived on the red carpet, and we took yet another blow. Surely she had something incredible on underneath what appeared to be a giant black duvet and beanie. Surely this wasn’t it.

But this was it.

With the kind of year(s) we’ve had, I suppose there are few things more American than appearing at an event wrapped up like cozy blanket burritos. This is all I can give her. Thanks for showing up at all, queen. I’m glad all your cousins’ friends’ testicles are OK.