Being fashion-forward requires forward thinking. After all, they don’t say, ‘Every outfit has a story,’ for nothing. So, for this year’s Met Gala attendees, that is exactly what we looked for – the legend behind the look.
With the theme set to honor the asymmetrical, angular work of Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, some fierce styles were expected, but the how and why that went into these choices represent a fashion statement in itself.
From cause, to message, to risk, these are the stories behind what we think are the 10 most meaningful looks of the Met Gala 2017:
Ashley Graham. Photo courtesy of Revelist.
Wearing: Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons
The 29-year-old, plus-sized model wore a red, ruched gown, that cinched at the waist, drawing attention to her best assets and the daily message she stands for, which is: “Every woman becoming their own model, and their own role model.” This is strongly reflected in her upcoming, June-release book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, of which she elaborated to E News about its message of body positivity, saying, “I think if more young girls looked in the mirror and were happy with who they were, then we would have a different society.”
Lily Aldridge. Photo courtesy of Footwear News.
Wearing: Ralph Lauren
Taking a party bus to ensure a wrinkle-free entrance redefines the lengths to which women will go for beauty. Yet, it was a necessary feat for Aldridge, who was draped in heavy silk (a wrinkle’s favorite material), as she stood the distance between The Carlyle Hotel and The Met, while her stylists supported the dress’s train.
Janelle Monae. Photo courtesy of Popsugar.
Wearing: Ralph and Russo
The actress drew accessory inspiration from her hairstylist, Nikki Nelms, who previously told Cosmopolitan.com that she buys from Michael’s Arts and Crafts store as she “loves finding more than one purpose for things.”
Switching it up from her award season accessories of safety pins and stickers, Monáe flaunted feathers and jewels to accent an already ornate look, reflecting her loyalty in Nelms, while also persuading us to accessorize more.
Wearing: Thom Browne
As a regular asymmetrical gown-wearing gala attendee, Knowles was in her element. That is, until she showed up in a puffer jacket – or at least, that’s what it seemed. The parka was actually a dress, with a train included. Her inspiration? Knowles credited Missy Elliott sporting a garbage bag in her “The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly]” video.
Solange Knowles. Photo courtesy of Popsugar.
As a fierce leader in the female community, it may be difficult to imagine Teigen being insecure. Yet this year’s gala presented a theme that induced these feelings, with the model explaining to PEOPLE, “I can’t wear things like that, I look goofy, I look kinda crazy.” So, instead of stepping out on a limb, Teigen chose to “play it safe” while still representing an understated style with classic elements, sharing that she would, “rather just keep it simple and keep it pretty.”
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Photo courtesy of Vogue.
Wearing: Rei Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons.
The powerhouse artist wore a look straight from the 2016 Comme des Garçons runway, inspired by 18th-century punks. The sculptural design blends the ultimate visions of sculpture and fashion. For Rihanna’s personal brand, it was the ultimate choice of pairing edgy with girly – a look the singer is known for blending together.
Turning fashion into art is what the gala prides itself on – and Minaj seems to pride herself on this too. The rapper sported this H&M dress, gaining attention from many media outlets not only for the label design, but also for her badass attitude. The custom-made dress reflected Minaj’s eclectic style – with vinyl roses, leather, and a silk kimono coming together to present Minaj in all of her elements.
Nicki Minaj. Photo courtesy of Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.
Katy Perry. Photo courtesy of Refinery29.
Wearing: John Galliano
The daringly red statement gown seemed to reflect Perry’s position as co-chair of this year’s gala. With a headdress, veil, layered design and tailored train, she embraced the avant garde theme, with a focus on supporting the art exhibition’s dramatic costume style and visual-centric appeal. The dress itself could be recognized as a stand-alone piece in the impressionistic art show.
Gigi Hadid. Photo courtesy of Popsugar.
Wearing: Tommy Hilfiger
Choosing to don an entirely caramel aesthetic, Hadid dyed her hair a warm bronze, pulling it aside to work with the angles of the dress. The only pops of "color" were her dark, bold cateye makeup and fishnet thigh-highs; a minimalist look that prominently contrasted with the rest of the bright designs.
Kim Kardashian. Photo courtesy of Elle.
Wearing: Vivienne Westwood
The simplicity of her look, and symbolism of all white was speculated to represent the year this Kardashian had. No jewelry says more than wearing superfluous amounts of it. With her hotel room hoisted as headlines that rounded out 2016, stepping out in a minimal state shows Kim like we haven’t seen her in years – taking her style back to the basics among all the commotion.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.