It's been two days since the Met Gala happened, which means you've definitely been FLOODED with more star-studded fashion recaps than you can stand.
But bear with me, dear reader, because in this post, we're going a bit deeper to explore the brilliant ways that celebs celebrated black culture, black people, and black history at this year's event.
1.OK, now that we're all on the same page, let's talk hair. Naps, kinks, and coils took center stage on the pink carpet last night, as demonstrated by this stunning snapshot of fashion icon Lupita Nyong'o.
Her sculptural 4C showpiece featured several black fist Afro picks, which were spray-painted gold by global hairstylist, educator, and artist Vernon François and hairstylist Sharif Poston.
Vernon and Lupita's inspiration came from "Pickin'," the powerful self-portrait of multidisciplinary artist Lauren Kelley sporting a head full of painted black fist Afro picks.
"Our goal is to continue to demonstrate the power of our hair texture, that it is the most moldable and luxurious hair texture there is," Vernon explained.
2.And that takes us to another glorious gala 'fro, this time rocked by Ciara aka Cici aka Miss I Serve Revlon Realness In My Sleep.
*Stares in black girl appreciation* UMMMM BRB, Y'ALL!!! *Runs out to Michaels to find a frame worthy of surrounding this masterpiece*
Oh! And apparently, Ciara and her team were considering a bunch of other hair looks, including these flawless Afro puffs. There's always next year!
3.While boxer braids were nowhere to be found because they're actually not a real hairstyle, there were quite a few cornrows! Take Zoë Kravitz, for instance, who came correct with a head of perfectly plaited tresses that allowed her gorgeous face, earrings, and gown to take center stage...
4.Same goes for Tracee Ellis Ross, whose face-framing Lacy Redway cornrows were also framed by a literal frame.
5.Danai Gurira's cornrows were so small and intricate that her top hat was able to rest firmly on her head. Let those beaded bangs serve as a reminder of celeb hair expert Larry Sims' boundless creativity.
6.Known for making sociopolitical pro-black statements both on and off the football field, athlete and prominent activist Colin Kaepernick also flaunted a set of fresh cornrows, proving that this style is just as formal — if not more so — as a clean-shaven cut.
Colin is giving us laid and luxurious, and I'm not mad about it. I mean, the levels of fresh here are just unmatched.
7.Box braids (and bobos, OMG!) had their moment in the spotlight too, thanks to Slave Play playwright and actor Jeremy O. Harris...
8....and Aurora James, founder of the sustainable, artisanal footwear and handbag brand Brother Vellies.
9.Rounding out our hair moments are these slick-ass finger waves that stylist Latisha Chong shaped on Ashton Sanders' custom unit.
10.Which brings us to the fashion portion of this post, kicked off by Ashton and trailblazer/CFDA award winner/designer Telfar Clemens of Telfar.
11.Telfar and Ashton weren't the only Hollywood–fashion duo in the building. Mogul Lena Waithe and innovator/CFDA award winner Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss pulled up in a pair of very detailed silk Zoot suits made by the Haitian American designer himself.
Lena's pinstripes consisted of lyrics from iconic queer anthems, like Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and Rent's "Take Me or Leave Me"...
...Whereas Kerby's listed various hip-hop lyrics from motivational hip-hop tracks, like Meek Mill's "Get Dis Money," 2Pac's "Keep Ya Head Up," and Jay-Z's "The Story of O.J."
The 16 buttons, crafted by Johnny Nelson of Johnny Nelson Jewelry, were no mere buttons. They were actually custom sculpture portraits honoring Kerby's eight favorite rappers and eight of Lena's LGBTQ icons.
And finally, the backs of their suits doubled as walking billboards, promoting financial empowerment and ownership among black folks in the hood and the centering, crediting, and acknowledgment of black drag queens.
"I really wanted to make sure my outfit represented the black drag queens who started this camp thing, about being over the top and all that jazz," Lena told Elle. "People like RuPaul, all these pioneers who really started this whole thing, and I really wanted to pay tribute to them."
12.We've got another badass designer coming through. Oh, look! It's Aurora again. Her custom outfit voiced her strong stance against Susan Sontag's rejection of nature as camp. "I think the true Queen of Camp might actually be Mother Nature," the designer wrote on Instagram. "And something tells me, she’s black."
"When I truly think about it, the campiest things I have seen in life, I have seen during my time in Africa," Aurora said. "The black narrative seems to be missing from her notes."
13.Now, I'm sure you remember Tracee's ensemble from earlier. It turns out that her frame holds a significant meaning, as both Tracee and fashion/costume expert and podcast host Shelby Ivey Christie noted on social media.
While Tracee is and always has been a walking work of art, the star used this opportunity to also pay tribute to conceptual artist and cultural critic Lorraine O'Grady's "Art Is..." performance, a radical work that defies the avant-garde art world's exclusion of black people by literally exhibiting attendees of Harlem’s 1983 African American Day Parade.
14.Moving right along to Tiffany Haddish, whose self-proclaimed "Pimperella" Michael Kors suit was one of the most talked-about looks of the evening. Days before the gala even happened, Shelby Ivey Christie noted how the "Player’s Ball as a whole is Camp."
And then, when Tiffany revealed her clutch full of homemade fried chicken, the fashion scholar schooled us some more:
15.A personal fave of mine had to be KiKi Layne's leggings, which read "GUCCI DOWN 2 THA" before hitting her socks. What better way to honor hip-hop — one of the most influential and impactful proponents of camp aesthetic — than with a repurposed line from the Notorious B.I.G.'s famously grandiose track "One More Chance/Stay With Me (Remix)"?
“I know what it meant to me when I saw Lupita in her first awards campaign,” KiKi told Vogue. “To see this girl who looks like me slaying red carpets and magazine covers. I hope that through building relationships with all these brands I can do the same for all the little black girls out there.”
16.Walking straight out of the pages of a fairy tale that needs to be told, SiriusXM radio and TV host Bevy Smith made it a point to wear #AllBlackEverything. "Entire look done by BLACK ARTISTS (nails by Latinx)," she shared on Instagram.
And while we're here, we GOTTA talk about this magnificent cape, provided and fitted by Dapper Dan at his historic Harlem atelier (more on Dapper Dan in a bit). The detailed embroidery, the marvelous use of color, and the superb tailoring of it all! *Black chef's kiss*
17.Last but not least are our living legends of black fashion and style, without whom most of our faves wouldn't even have received a seat at the table. Firstly, there's fashion activist, diversity advocate, and one of the first black models to walk a European runway, Bethann Hardison.
Let's unpack the blackity blackness that is Bethann's outfit. Her artfully folded head wrap brings to mind the sophisticated geles of West Africa, while the black, red, and green color scheme mirrors that of the Pan-African flag, a self-determined symbol of freedom and community within the African diaspora.
18.This brings me to our second and final living legend of the evening: revolutionary designer and haberdasher, industry groundbreaker and trendsetter Dapper Dan. He actually styled Bethann in Gucci for the gala, along with Regina Hall, 21 Savage, Omari Hardwick, Ashley Graham, and Karlie Kloss. Bevy Smith was his guest of honor.
If you find yourself asking, "But why Gucci??? They did blackface!!!" Dapper Dan actually addressed this conundrum in a recent interview with Elle's Nikki Ogunnaike. "Being a partner of Gucci opens up a whole world," he said. "A whole world of education. Me being here, navigating like this here, lets them know, 'This is important to us. This cannot do.'"
WHEEEW!!! And there you have it: the blackest Met Gala in the event's 71-year history! What a ride.
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