Oh Met Gala, Met Gala, where do I begin. I’ll start here – I was impressed with how many celebrities did pay attention to the Comme des Garçons theme. The accompanying exhibit at the museum opens today and will surely be another exquisite example of art through fashion from one of the industry’s most influential designers, Rei Kawakubo. The 120 pieces displayed in the collection are Kawakubo’s response to the space she occupies among dimensions in-between – the eight categories in which the pieces exist are: Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Design/Not Design, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes.
I understand this “theme” has deeper layers and required actual time spent thinking in order to dissect than something as broad as punk, but it’s far more interesting and contemplative, and it does allow for attendees, or their stylists, to interpret as they see fit. Here lies my fundamental issue with every Met Gala, at the end of the day, people just want to look good. They want to feel pretty in a fancy dress and go to a party. And while this is fine, really, no matter what, I’m always left wanting more, more, more.
I believe my Best Dressed picks include a range of celebrities who have applied the avant garde theme as well as their personal brand will allow. For women like Ruth Negga in Valentino, Lupita Nyong’o in Prada, and Rihanna in Comme des Garçons, the Met Gala is a true extension of their wardrobe choices on any red carpet. For them any red carpet is an opportunity for a fashion moment not just the Met Gala. Women like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lopez will only push their comfort zones so far no matter the theme. All of these women were stunning and a few may have applied avant garde (black heels with a pink gown) in a way to depart from their usual red carpet styling choices, i.e. strapless, fishtail gown (here’s lookin’ at you Reese Witherspoon). A-listers are less likely to compromise their personal brands with a “crazy” look – it’s just not in their DNA. They want to be known in the same way on every red carpet. So their stylists, as much as they might love to take a bigger risk, are limited to beautiful and pretty things (with a twist) only.
The others on my list include:
Zoe Kravitz in Oscar de la Renta – she is still solidifying her place within the best dressed red carpet world – she has huge shoes to fill as her mother, Lisa Bonet, is literally the most stunning woman in the world with a truly unique personal style. Zoe’s choice is safe, pretty, and is a nod to the theme with it’s sculptural sleeve details. And her platinum pixie keeps the look from being too conventional.
Hailee Steinfeld in Vera Wang – this was a shocker to me. I’m almost never a fan of what she wears, but this made me stop and appreciate the choices she’s making. She’s still young and finding her footing in the fashion world. She seems to enjoy fashion and this look was an example of that. Shorts on the red carpet are always surprising and her long jacket with military inspired details and severe top knot were excellent applications of the theme.
Tracee Ellis Ross in Comme des Garçons – this was the only sure fire way to truly be on-theme. Wear Comme des Garçons. I get that the designer is not for everyone, but really admire when I see people step out of themselves to have fun with fashion. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Claire Foy in Erdem – this off-the-shoulder floral, gold gown was a departure from her usual styling. And while it doesn’t scream avant garde the details do. I love that she chose a British designer to execute the theme for her while staying true to the red carpet style she seems to be cultivating.
Caroline Kennedy in Comme des Garçons – I loved seeing her in this! She looks happy and excited to be at the Met Gala. She’s just coming off her ambassadorship to Japan so maybe she picked up a few of her own avant garde styling tips. And honestly, while the brand can look a little costume-y on certain people, she’s wearing it very well.
Cynthia Erivo in Thom Browne – Thom Browne America’s answer to avant garde designers. So it makes perfect sense that her stylist, Sarah Slutsky, chose this ornate gown for her. Revolutionary-inspired the one-sleeved, highly textured gown and pearl styling were nods to Kawakubo’s influence on juxtaposition and spaces in between.
Rose Byrne in Ralph Lauren – A huge standout for me, Byrne really went for it without being sooo over the top. The red tulle is a specific nod to Kawakubo’s “red is black” Fall 1988 collection. The torn-apart looking pieces from the waist up were influences taken from her collection dedicated to pattern making where deconstructed pieces of tulle dominated her looks. This may be my true Best Dressed.
Discussion on themes from Kawakubo’s work can be lengthy and could probably justify any single person’s look last night; although I would still seriously question those who chose the “naked” looks. Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid literally wore almost nothing – was it a deliberate choice to forgo fabric in lieu of the “space between” where fabric should be? Who knows. What I do know is that when I heard Guiliana Rancic from E! News describe Jenner’s look as simple, beautiful and classic – I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone would ever describe Rei Kawakubo’s work in this way.