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Brief Published: 17 Sep 2021

Met Gala/VMAs 2021: Post-Pandemic Escapism in the Spotlight

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L-R: Billie Eilish, Hunter Schafer, Lil Nas X

After over a year of locked-down lives, the recent VMAs and the Met Gala served as perfect platforms for celebrities and designers to showcase the ultimate in escapism – confirming predictions made by Stylus about post-pandemic responses within fashion and beauty. We highlight the key takeaways from the events with links to relevant Stylus reports.

Post-Pandemic Pleasure Seekers

Consumers are keen to abandon their WFH loungewear in favour of more experimental, sexually expressive and hyper-glamorous looks, and this mantra was mirrored by celebrities at both events. Sexy silhouettes including sheer, body-skimming fabrics and eye-catching cutouts were mainstays with lots of skin on show, and attendees favoured attention-grabbing details like feathers, fringing and sequins. This pleasure-seeking and joyous approach was also reflected in beauty, as a trend for playful embellishment and party hardware materialised in faces that were fantastical, encrusted with rhinestones, crystals and pearls.

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Bia
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Charli XCX
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Kacey Musgraves
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Troye Sivan
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Doja Cat
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Troye Sivan
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Iann Dior
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LaQuan Smith
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Jaden Hossler
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Michaela Coel
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Dixie D'Amelio
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Rosalía
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Megan Fox
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Zoë Kravitz
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Winnie Harlow
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Tessa Thompson
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Anja Rubik
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Olivia Rodrigo

Standout looks included singer Troye Sivan’s cropped suit jacket and shorts set, TikTokker Dixie D’Amelio’s sleek halter gown, rapper Doja Cat’s daringly playful ensemble, actress Julia Garner and model Ella Emhoff’s undereye rhinestones, and British actress Maisie Williams’ black gems worn under gothic eye make-up.

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Julia Garner
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Maisie Williams
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Ella Emhoff

However, it’s not all about sexy hedonistic looks, as otherworldly, alien aesthetics take centre stage. Sojin Oh created nail looks for Canadian musician Grimes and American model and actress Hunter Schafer with Grimes’ otherworldly 3D glass ‘snail egg nails’ completing her look by Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, known for her biodiversity-inspired creations. And Schafer’s abstract glass manicure co-ordinated with dystopian white contact lenses.

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Sojinails x Hunter Schafer
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Sojinails x Lil Nas X
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Hunter Schafer
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Hunter Schafer
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Grimes
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Sojinails x Grimes

Look to our directions Verve (Fashion and Beauty) and Trip (Fashion and Beauty) to see how these aesthetics will evolve in the coming seasons, as well as to our Halloween 2022 predictions (Fashion and Beauty) and Youth Style Collectives 2022 for extra style cues on the junior market.

Escapist Romance

Many attendees at both events chose to escape into other realms of historical romance, putting a heavy emphasis on feminine froth and fairy-tale elegance. Singer and Met Gala co-chair Billie Eilish’s voluminous tulle gown was a standout, while many others including actresses Lili Reinhart, Lily-Rose Depp and Carey Mulligan embraced full skirts, pink hues and floral accents. The message is clear: princess dressing has arrived for post-pandemic consumers, and the bigger the better.

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Camila Cabello
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Megan Thee Stallion
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Olivia Rodrigo
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Margaret Qualley
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Billie Eilish
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Sienna Miller
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Normani
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Nikkie Tutorials
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Rachel Zegler
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Carey Mulligan
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Venus Williams
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Whoopi Goldberg
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Lili Reinhart
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Jennifer Hudson
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Lily-Rose Depp

For menswear, the all-white suit is one to keep an eye on, as actor Timothée Chalamet and singer Shawn Mendes both donned versions in relaxed, youthful fits with historical references and detailing.

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Lil Nas X
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Shawn Mendes
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A$AP Rocky
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Timothée Chalamet

For more on this evolving trend that cherishes fantasy, historical romance and dreamlike escape, see our Christmas 2022 (Fashion and Beauty) and Special Occasion 2022 (Fashion and Beauty) predictions.

Modern Masculinity

Evolved takes on modern masculinity also played a huge role in the VMA’s and Met Gala’s expressive outings, as feminine motifs and soft colour palettes married with inspired tailoring updates. Key looks included NBA player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s baby pink floral suit, singer Lil Nas X’s embellished lilac train, Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton’s intricate lace accents, rapper Saint Jhn’s cardie-combo and comedian Pete Davidson’s masculine skirt-suit.

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
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Saint Jhn
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Lil Nas X
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Giveon
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Lewis Hamilton
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Lil Baby
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Dan Levy
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Jack Harlow
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Pete Davidson

Meanwhile in beauty, Lil Nas X’s eyes were adorned with delicate gold arrows while his glowy skin was achieved with LA-based skincare brand Versed’s Mood Lighting Luminizing Glow Drops in Bronzed. His look was complete with gold chrome Versace nails created by LA-based nail artist Sojin Oh. American actor Evan Mock displayed a black manicure while sporting a baby pink buzzcut. Read The Brief for how gender colour stereotypes are changing.

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Lil Nas X
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Evan Mock
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Evan Mock
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