The first Monday in May comes but once a year. That’s why all eyes were glued to the blue and white carpet, as fashion’s glitterati graced the famous steps in their finest couture on their way into this year’s Met Gala. Put on by the museum’s Costume Institute as a fundraising event, the evening followed the theme of this year’s exhibition, Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In Between. The invitation requested that attendees dress “Avant-Garde,” which understandably left many in confusion, and the responses ranged from interesting to ridiculous to eye-rollingly dull. The more obvious move—and one that many of fashion’s elite and celebrities alike successfully took—was to wear something from Comme des Garçons, the brand being honored, but others interpreted the dress-code in more creative and daring ways. Moreover, some attendees ignored the invitation’s instructions altogether, finding it too scary and “out-there,” and opted for more traditional black-tie pieces. Some Met Gala regulars, such as the boundary-pushing Sarah Jessica Parker, Kanye West, the very pregnant Beyonce, and supermodel Coco Rocha, were notably not in attendance at Monday’s event; however, the newcomers who took their places undoubtedly captured the glamour and boldness of the occasion and commanded the attention of fashion’s biggest names going forward.
The Met Ball’s unofficial reigning queen, Rihanna, unsurprisingly killed it in a Comme des Garçons get-up from the 2016 collection. The red and blue ensemble that swallowed the singer up like a boa constrictor was Kawakubo’s career in a nutshell: colorful, feminine, sculptural, and avant-garde. Other attendees who opted for a CdG look were Tracee Ellis Ross, who donned a knee-length, patterned, sapphire dress, and model Anna Cleveland, who wore CdG’s version of a white pantsuit, fully adorned with the brand’s signature frillings and a-symmetry. Although Stella Maxwell did not wear a Comme des Garçons look, the model was the subject of many awestruck gazes in a white H&M pearl-fringed gown that was made in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo.
Other Met Ball guests interpreted “avant-garde” in ways that honored and upheld Kawakubo’s creative genius but were not designs of her own. One of the first to grace the Met steps, Katy Perry, an event co-chairwoman stole the show in a sparkling, red hot Maison Margiela artisanal trench under a heavily-adorned, floor-length veil. Solange Knowles opted for a very unexpected Thom Browne puffer-jacket gown, which led some to jokingly remark, “when you have a Met Gala at 8 o’clock and a sleepover at 10.” Lily Collins, who has definitely proven herself as someone for the fashion industry to pay close attention to, mixed a feminine pink, tulle skirt with a very punk, chain-adorned black top in Giambattista Valli, and she was the first of many stars to debut a new, sleek bob haircut on Monday. Kendall Jenner, whose outfit choice many anticipated would be daring, rocked a barely-there, sheer La Perla gown that highlighted her assets, while Hailey Baldwin took a modern take on an ultra-fem princess gown, wearing a beautiful, blush-colored crop top and matching tulle, layered skirt by Carolina Herrera. The newly-bobbed Bella Hadid followed model friend Kendall’s suit, choosing to wear a sheer, custom-made, lace and crystal Alexander Wang catsuit, one of the most memorable looks of the evening. Kylie Jenner, who also rocked a freshly-cut, platinum blonde bob, went for a floral-and-tinsel-strewn, sheer Versace number, while actress Dakota Johnson turned heads in a sculptural Gucci number that largely resembled Kawakubo’s famous work with ruffles and frills. Priyanka Chopra rocked an unexpected Ralph Lauren trench coat gown, proving that “avant-garde” can come in many forms. The always-fabulous Zendaya opted for a colorful, off-the-shoulder Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda gown with her natural, full hair as her biggest accessory. Model Liu Wen donned an extremely chic denim and lace, embellished gown from up-and-coming designer Off-White, one of the most current designers worn on this year’s red carpet. Cara Delevigne, whose looks are always highly anticipated, chose a sparkling, black and silver Chanel belted pantsuit with a plunging neckline. The most notable part of her look, though, was her hair, which she recently shaved and topped with jewels for the event.
Some of the evening’s attendees chose to be “avant-garde” in their looks by doing what was least expected. Kim Kardashian West, whose looks have in past years been over-the-top and scene stealing, went for a very simple, white Vivienne Westwood gown that showed off her toned shoulders. The reality star also opted for incredibly natural-looking makeup and no jewellery, a significant change from her usual look. Jennifer Lopez, too, defied expectations. The actress and singer, who showed up to the event with new beau Alex Rodriguez on her arm, wore a lose-fitting, elegant, baby blue Valentino gown with Harry Winston jewellery, straying from her ordinary body-hugging, cut-out looks.
Those who completely ignored the “avant-garde” theme of the gala included Anna Wintour and Gisele Bündchen, chairwoman and co-chairwoman of the Met Gala, respectively. Wintour, who has worn Chanel to every Met Gala in recent memory, made no exception for this year’s event. The Vogue editor-in-chief wore a dazzling, sequin and feather custom Chanel gown with simple jewellery, which, although beautiful, was neither “avant-garde” for Wintour nor for the themed-evening. Gisele similarly opted for an open-backed, silver Stella McCartney dress and a high-ponytail. The 36-year old model, whose hubby, Tom Brady, accompanied her, looked stunning as usual but seemingly played it safe for her first year as co-chairwoman for the fundraiser. Others who seemingly put aside the theme for simpler looks were model Doutzen Kroes, who wore a beautiful, off-the-shoulder, deep-pocketed Brock Collection gown in the color of the evening, showing that red really is the new black, and fashion’s new it-girl Paris Jackson, who donned an elegant Calvin Klein by Appointment black, tea-length dress. Fashionista Alexa Chung also chose a non-descript, black and white Diane von Frustenberg gown but fully embraced Kawakubo’s love of polka dots. Current Vanity Fair covergirl, Brie Larson, followed Wintour’s trend, going for a sparkling, metallic Chanel dress and minimal jewellery, and model Candice Swanpoel looked ready for the ball in a black, strapless Topshop gown.
The real star of the Met Gala, Kawakubo herself, wore a white jacket and black skirt, a simple variation on her traditional uniform but by no means “avant-garde.” It’s her party, though, and she’ll wear what she wants to!
Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In Between will examine the work of the Japanese designer and her ability to challenge traditional conceptions of beauty, taste, and fashion. The show features approximately 140 pieces of Kawakubo’s womenswear, dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection, and will be open to the public from May 4th to September 4th, 2017.
Written by GABBY SHACKNAI
Visual Editor JUAN JOSÉ LOAIZA