Looking Through the Met: China

Graphic by Ilsiia Shakirova
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After almost a full semester, we will be concluding this column with the Met Gala that inspired it all, “China: Through the Looking Glass.” In case you were unaware, yes, the title of this column is taken from this 2015 theme, so it is a wonderful full-circle moment to end with this gala. Though the “China” gala was met with controversy, it was a night that gave us some iconic notes. “China” was also one of the most thoroughly-documented Met Galas ever — the documentary “The First Monday in May” chronicled the entire process of putting it together. The documentary is a must-see for fashion enthusiasts and Met Gala lovers everywhere.

The shining star of the “China” Met Gala was Rihanna. Her Guo Pei gown instantly became the talk of the night, and its vibrant yellow cape turned into a viral meme. Not only was the gown beautiful, but it also highlighted the craftsmanship and talent of a Chinese designer. The dress brought much attention to Pei’s brand — a refreshing moment, considering white designers tend to dominate the fashion world. 

Many looks at the 2015 gala took inspiration from Chinese art, most notably Veronica Chou’s gown by Chinese designer Huishan Zhang. The white gown had an image of a woman and two children embroidered on the lace, an especially personal moment for Chou who was pregnant with twins at the time. “Glee” star Dianna Agron wore a light-colored gown by Tory Burch with intricate cranes embroidered on the bottom, with one red and pink crane standing out and drawing attention to the dress as a whole. Though the outfit was simple and could have been improved by more accessories — Agron only wore a couple of rings and held a clutch — it was a great homage to Chinese art. 

In Chinese culture, red is a color often associated with luck, joy and vitality, which made it a common color throughout the night. Chinese supermodel Shupei Qin opted for a long-sleeve red dress by Tommy Hilfiger with gold patterns embroidered on the chest and sleeves, while Amal Clooney went for a stunning outfit by Maison Margiela that featured a skirt with many layers of fabric in varying shades of red. Another color, or material, with significance in Chinese culture is jade, and Kendall Jenner used jade as the inspiration for her dress. Jenner’s glistening crystal gown by Calvin Klein was eye-catching, on-theme and a personal Met Gala favorite of mine. 

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Overall, the “China” Met Gala was a wonderful tribute to Chinese culture and its impact on the fashion world as a whole. Countless designers have used the country as inspiration for their collections, so it is only fitting that it was honored at one of the most important fashion events in the world. The gala was also an opportunity to spotlight lesser-known Chinese designers, and many attendees did just that by choosing to attend in outfits by Asian designers.

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