Gemma Chan’s Met Gala homage to Anna May Wong

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Who gets to be American?

This was the question emblazoned onto sashes for Prabal Gurung’s 10th Anniversary show in 2019, and went onto become one section of the Metropolitan Museum’s new fashion exhibition In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which celebrities gathered to see last night.

 (Invision)
(Invision)

It was also the question Chan and Gurung considered when they put together the strapless, black and silver sequin mini dress with long, ruffled pale lime train she wore to last night’s ‘American Independence’ themed Met Gala, looking to images of Wong to inspire the garments, hair and makeup.

On Instagram, Chan posted a series of images capturing Anna May Wong, who is known for being the first Chinese-American actress to gain international success. “This year we wanted to give a nod to and pay tribute to Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American film star of Hollywood’s golden era,” Chan wrote in her caption. 

Prabal Gurung and Gemma Chan (Getty Images)
Prabal Gurung and Gemma Chan (Getty Images)

 “Born in Los Angeles in 1905, her grandfather emigrated from China to the US in the 1850s. She was the lead in the first Technicolor film ‘The Toll of the Sea’ at the age of 17 and she starred in over 60 films in a career that spanned silent films, talkies, television and stage.” 

Watch: Gemma Chan’s Guide to a Simple, Smudge-Proof Red Lip

“Despite facing prejudice and stereotyping she fought back against the discrimination she faced in Hollywood,” her explanation continues. “In her words: ‘It’s a pretty sad situation to be rejected by Chinese because I’m ‘too American’ and by American producers because they prefer other races to act Chinese parts.’”

Gemma Chan (Getty Images)
Gemma Chan (Getty Images)

It comes as the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ star increases her involvement in fashion, as she graces the cover of British Vogue’s September Issue cover this year, and was spotted front row during New York Fashion Week.

But yesterday’s look dug deeper than just a pretty dress. As Chan made clear in her final comments about Wong: “A trailblazer, fashion icon and woman ahead of her time - she paved the way for those who came after and continues to inspire.”

Gemma Chan attends the Tory Burch Spring/Summer 2022 Collection (Getty Images for Tory Burch)
Gemma Chan attends the Tory Burch Spring/Summer 2022 Collection (Getty Images for Tory Burch)
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