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.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.