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Kim Kardashian brought kink to the red carpet at the 2021 Met Gala

Celebrities are notorious for ignoring the dress code at the Met Gala, and this year’s red carpet was no different. The most glaring example, unsurprisingly, was Kim Kardashian.

Taking the concept of masking up a step further, Kardashian arrived in a black gown, stiletto boots and a mask that completely covered her face save for the ponytail that peeked out at the top. The look, designed by her ex-husband Kanye West in collaboration with Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, was the complete inversion of her last Met Gala look, where she wore a naked dress that fully exposed her body.

Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga at the 2021 Met Gala
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

It also made her seem like she was headed to a BDSM convention, where this sort of skin-tight, body-covering ensemble is embraced as fetish gear (albeit, typically without a train). Kardashian has been stepping out in these bizarre Balenciaga ensembles in the past month, notably when she supported West’s Donda album release-party-slash-satanic-ritual. West himself has been obscuring his face with an array of masks and balaclavas.

Perhaps this is performance art. Or maybe the ex-couple are making a commentary on fame and anonymity — in which case Kardashian would have made a stronger gesture by simply not showing up to the Met Gala at all. But she did, and she unexpectedly set the tone for all the other kink-inspired looks we saw on the red carpet.

Gossip Girl star Evan Mock, for example, could have nailed the all-American theme in his usual skater boy garb. Instead, he arrived in a Thom Browne suit with shorts — and a spiked, latex mask that fully covered his face. Latex, that once subversive material, is also used in Rebecca Hall’s Batsheva gown. The actress no doubt required lots of lube to slip into her look.

Rebeca Hall (left) and Evan Mock in Thom Browne (Photo credit: Getty Images)

There were other subtle nods to the transgressive. Megan Fox looked very much like a red-hot dominatrix in her lace-up Dundas gown. She doubled down on the concept with bangs inspired by Bettie Page, the 20th-century pin-up star who set off Dita Von Teese’s whole burlesque career. And then there was Gigi Hadid, who looked by all means elegant in white Prada column gown, but who injected a bit of edge with her leather gloves.

Megan Fox in Peter Dundas (left) and Gigi Hadid in Prada (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Perhaps what’s startling about these daring ensembles is that most people would hardly bat an eye at them. What was once the controversial codes of an underground community exploring the boundaries of sex is now, simply, a trend.

We’ve already seen Kim Kardashian in latex. And we’ve gotten used to straight-up sex, served in the form of the naked dress (of which we saw plenty at the Met Gala red carpet, too), or a “wet look” dress. It’s gotten to the point that even when Gucci unveiled its new Aria campaign, which was meant to be sexually charged and inspired by the world of fetish, it fell… flat.

All of which makes Kim Kardashian’s appearance (or non-appearance) at the 2021 Met Gala simply just another viral fashion moment, meant to stimulate us for perhaps a few minutes before we look on for yet another distraction.

 

Header photo credit: Getty Images

Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.