Poet Amanda Gorman is perhaps best known for radiating a bright light of hope in a dark time. So it’s fitting that the 23-year-old, who captivated America with her reading at the Biden-Harris presidential inauguration, should show up at the 2021 Met gala in a look that heavily references the Statue of Liberty.
Gorman, a past Glamour College Woman of the Year, is a co-chair of the 2021 gala along with an elite Gen-Z clique comprised of Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka, and Billie Eilish. The evening’s theme is “In America.” And on the red carpet on Monday night, Gorman told host Keke Palmer that with her look she “wanted to lean into the spirit of the Statue of Liberty.”
It’s fitting—the statue is of a goddess who stands as a symbol for radically welcoming the stranger. “Tonight’s theme, for me I really looked at it as a night where we can come together as a country and celebrate one of the things that makes us so beautiful, which is our diversity,” she told E! News.
“Fashion is its own form of language, its own form of rhetoric,” Gorman told Palmer. She added that to her, style is about “Walking in my truth in a Black woman.” Here are some of the references in her outfit—styled by Jason Bolden—that you may have missed.
Gorman’s blue gown, with its tulle train and sparkling detail, is designed by Vera Wang. It reportedly includes 3,000 hand-sewn crystals. The layers on the dress evoke the thick draping in the copper of the roman-style tunic worn by the Statue of Liberty. The giant statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was gifted to the United States by France in the 1880s. Its position in New York harbor means that it has been the first American landmark that immigrants see as they enter American waters—a beacon of hope, and a symbol that true freedom in America always means welcoming new citizens.
In her inaugural poem, Gorman used several phrases that bring the statue to mind. She spoke of “a sea we must wade” and “my bronze-pounded chest,” and called the day “aflame.”
The hair accessories
Gorman’s hair for the Met gala was set with silver, leaf-shaped head pieces—laurels, like the laurel wreaths worn by victorious greek athletes in ancient times. It is from those headpieces that we get the phrase “poet laureate,” and Gorman became America’s first every National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
Gorman’s clutch is shaped like a book and glittery gold letters spell out the phrase, “Give me your tired.” It’s a reference to the poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. In the poem, Lazarus speaks from the perspective of the statue, crying out, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This quote has come to represent, for activists and humanitarians, the soul of the American vision—a vision of inclusivity, where immigrants, refugees, and needy people are welcomed and treasured. Perhaps Gorman alluded to the line in her inaugural address, when she said, “We lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.”
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.