As fashion’s biggest night, the Met Gala honors the creativity that fuels the industry. Every Met has its own theme, and 2021 paid tribute to the ingenuity of American style. Guests didn’t have to wear a piece from a homegrown label, but their looks had to reflect America’s gusty, adventurous sartorial spirit. That freedom allowed for a range of interpretations, making this year’s red carpet one of the most exciting and unpredictable to date. Some stars opted to pay homage to national icons. Co-chair Billie Eilish embraced her inner starlet in an Oscar de la Renta gown modeled after Grace Kelly's refined style Others relied on the art of surprise, like Lil’ Nas X, who shut down the red carpet by stripping off layers of ornate Versace to reveal a sparkling catsuit.

Whether they caused a viral moment (Timothée Chalamet leading a casual live-streamed stroll to the museum’s steps), subverted expectations (Pete Davidson in an epic slipdress from Thom Browne), or went incognito (Kim Kardashian in a Balenciaga gown and matching mask ), the stars in attendance committed to the theme. Their spirited, larger than life looks were in sync with the dramatic pieces that fill the America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition. Simply put, they raised the bar.

Those who thought that the first socially distanced, mid-September Met Gala was going to be a quiet affair were quickly proven wrong. The sense of joy that permeated the event was palpable, and the resilience of the fashion community after a challenging year made the moment even more meaningful. By the time Rihanna showed up at the last minute and closed the red carpet with a stunning final surprise, everyone was in the mood to celebrate.

If you missed the live coverage of the Met Gala 2021 red carpet, you can see all of your favorite celebrities arriving in style by watching the livestream here.