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The Hidden Messages Behind 10 Memorable Met Gala Looks

Culture

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.

Ashley Graham
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.

Lily Aldridge
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.

Janelle Monáe
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.

Solange Knowles
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.

Chrissy Teigen
Wearing: Marchesa

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.

Rihanna
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.

Nicki Minaj
Wearing: H&M

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.

Katy Perry
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.

Gigi Hadid
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.

Kim Kardashian
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.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.