LIFESTYLE

Another Met Gala in the books, so how did they do on theme?

May 2, 2023, 1:12 PM

Rihanna attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the ope...

Rihanna attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty" exhibition on Monday, May 1, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — In vintage couture and a world of Chanel-inspired camellias. In pearls, chains and black ties, especially those worn by women, the A-list crowd at the embracing Karl Lagerfeld, the man of the evening on fashion’s biggest night.

Most. Not all. Over-the-top dressing on the first Monday in May isn’t dead. Misinterpreting or outright ignoring the night’s dress code isn’t buried. But this time around, there was an air of respect, a nod to authenticity “in honor of Karl,” as the fundraising party’s visionary, Anna Wintour, requested.

“Because the theme was so specific, it practically demanded elegance, which is why so many looked so good. But what was most surprising was to see how other designers paid homage to the master with riffs on his iconic trademarks,” said Hal Rubenstein, a fashion writer, designer and one of the founding editors of InStyle magazine.

Lagerfeld, the man, the photographer, the publisher, the designer for hire at Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and more, died in February 2019 after 65 years in fashion. Few designers have made the deep cultural impact he did, especially within the confines of carrying on historic heritage legacies.

He was “about elegance and craftsmanship, a total 180 from the Hollywood parade the Met Ball had become in the last few years,” Rubenstein said.

And Lagerfeld did it in his own unique uniform: white powdered low ponytail, skinny black pants and jackets, black fingerless gloves, high crisp white collars and black ties. And dark glasses. Always dark glasses.

Other critics and fashion insiders agreed with Rubenstein. Let’s not forget the muddled gala theme “Punk: Chaos to Couture” in 2013 with a fashion vibe that managed to offend actual punks, or the two galas last year and the year before that honored American fashion with a slew of guests dressed by European and other non-American brands.

But some fashion watchers weren’t altogether bothered by this year’s stunts, many aimed at Lagerfeld’s beloved cat, Choupette.

Jared Leto was a furry human (sweaty) Choupette in a Disney-worthy costume. Doja Cat was an actual cat, thanks to facial prosthetics. Lil Nas X was, well, Lil Nas X, slathered in silver paint wearing a chunky pearl and jeweled cat face mask, thong and boots — and nothing else, thanks to makeup legend Pat McGrath and Dior Men.

And some fans of the celebrities lucky enough to score invitations this year were often delighted, regardless. The “Last of Us” star Pedro Pascal sent his stans into a Valentino frenzy with his black short-shorts, high socks, fire engine red shirt and long matching overcoat. He got Lagerfeld’s signature black tie and combat boots right.

“In general, celebrities and designers adhered pretty religiously to the theme, much more than in recent years, sticking closely to the designer’s unwavering vision and signature design codes — tweed, black and white, ribbons, brides, rosettes, cats, suits,” said Madeline Hirsch, news director for InStyle and Byrdie.

There was much to play with, she said.

“He had a distinct vision and particular love for all things ‘fancy’ — and it was fun to see what everyone could do in a black and white color palette,” Hirsch said.

Cassidy Claire, a fashion historian and host of the podcast “Dressed: The History of Fashion,” put it this way:

“While most guests were on theme, I would overall label this year’s red carpet as beautiful but boring. Karl had such an extensive and expansive design vocabulary to pull from and the breadth of his work was overwhelmingly absent. Most guests fell into a Karl Lagerfeld trope trap, largely defined by Chanel and Chanel aesthetics: black and white, camellias, boucle and pearls.”

Chanel is not only a fashion house where Lagerfeld worked for 36 years, but was a sponsor of this year’s Met Gala. Lagerfeld’s contributions to fashion history and the modern fashion lexicon, Claire said, were so much more, though she had some notable exceptions to her criticism.

One of the highlights of the night was Nicole Kidman, Claire said, a vision in the pale pink befeathered and bejeweled gown she wore in the 2004 Baz Luhrmann-directed Chanel No. 5 fashion short film. At 180 seconds, it cost $33 million to make, she said.

There were other elegant vintage wins that fueled the Chanel engine: Penélope Cruz in an archival look from the spring 1998 haute couture collection and Jennie Kim in a vintage look from fall 1990.

The gala, which raised $17.4 million last year for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, is driven by the museum’s spring exhibition each year, this time around called “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.”

As the show, sure to be a blockbuster, attests, Lagerfeld’s design lexicon extended well beyond his tenure at Chanel. Yet his years at Jean Patou, Balmain and Chloé were barely there or absent on the museum’s Grand Staircase.

The gala carpet, Claire said, would have been more colorful and lively had more guests looked to Lagerfeld’s years at Chloé, where he worked from 1963 to 1983, and again from 1992 to 1997.

“His work for Chloé was decidedly more playful, whimsical and surrealist than his work at Chanel, as most famously embodied by his 1983 shower dress and his 1984 violin dress, which was reissued by Chloé in 2013,” she said.

Claire was pleased to see all three on the carpet, worn by Vanessa Kirby, Margaret Zhang and Olivia Wilde, respectively.

Rubenstein lauded others who went directly to Lagerfeld-related sources: Kidman and Penélope Cruz in vintage Chanel, along with Naomi Campbell’s goddess pink Chanel look from 2010 and Cara Delevingne in a shirt dress from Lagerfeld’s eponymous brand.

And he was impressed by the Lagerfeld symbols and silhouettes embodied by Vera Wang for Lily Collins, Loewe for Karlie Kloss, Gucci for Julia Garner and Thom Browne for Jenna Ortega. Still, he said, there were moments that might have made Lagerfeld clench.

“I don’t think anyone was out to make a mockery of the night. No one came to be disrespectful. But there were those who evidently didn’t make the attempt to honor the designer’s parameters,” Rubenstein said. “Lagerfeld clothes were never overtly sexy. He rarely showed plunging necklines, backless dresses, lots of midriff or skirts slit to the hip. So those who did show up blatantly showing off with swaths of exposed skin, like Mary J Blige, Jennifer Lopez and Lil Nas X looked awkwardly out of place.”

Claire, too, sees designers who did well by Lagerfeld, blending the honoree’s aesthetic with their own. Anne Hathaway is the shining star of that moment, she said, in custom Versace with founder Gianni’s famous safety pins in a Chanel boucle.

Sergio Hudson’s form-fitting pink boucle stunner worn by Kiki Palmer honored both Josephine Baker and Lagerfeld’s work in the 1950s, Claire said. Less subtle was Wang’s massive ballgown for Collins with “Karl” emblazoned across the train.

If Collins was less subtle, Jeremy Pope was a bullhorn in a 32-foot cape with a black-and-white Lagerfeld portrait, thanks to Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing.

William Middleton, who wrote this year’s biography “Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld,” sees deeper connections to his subject than meet the eye.

Kidman’s dress, for instance: “One of the fittings for this dress, in London at the Dorchester Hotel, was one of the few times in Karl’s life that he showed up on time.”

Take the note Rihanna and A$ap Rocky (who were 90 minutes late). “She wore a spectacular evening gown by Pier Paolo Piccioli, who had worked with Karl at Fendi, fusing his Valentino aesthetic with Karl’s, particularly with the oversized camellias,” Middleton said. “And he was wearing a kilt-like skirt with a black jacket, by Gucci, like Karl had worn in Tokyo in 2004.”

Fans who raved on social media clearly considered the couple worth waiting for.

___

Find Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie

Lifestyle

ADD MORE LOCATIONS FILE - An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident is ...

Associated Press

US census takers to conduct test runs in the South and West 4 years before 2030 count

Six places in the South and West will host practice runs four years prior to the 2030 U.S. census, a nationwide head count that helps determine political power and the distribution of federal funds. Residents of western Texas; tribal lands in Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; western North Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, will […]

18 hours ago

A second-floor balcony at the Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, on Wednesday, July 17, ...

Associated Press

Ernest Hemingway fans celebrate the author’s 125th birthday in his beloved Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Ernest Hemingway spent the 1930s in Key West, Florida, and more than six decades after his death, fans, scholars and relatives continue to congregate on the island city to celebrate the author’s award-winning novels and adventure-filled life. Hemingway Days started in 1981 with a short-story competition and a look-alike contest. […]

2 days ago

This photo provided by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows the Bissell Steam Shot Handhel...

Associated Press

Over 3 million steam cleaners are under recall because they can spew hot water and cause burns

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 3.3 million steam cleaners are being recalled across North America due to a burn hazard that has resulted in consumers reporting more than 150 injuries. Select models of Bissell-branded “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” can spew hot water or steam while the products are in use or being heated up, […]

5 days ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

5 days ago

Residents walk through the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. (AP P...

Associated Press

The uncertainty that plagues life in crisis-ridden Venezuela is also wreaking havoc on relationships

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Victoria Estevez finally met someone who saw past her shyness. They spent two months learning about their likes and dislikes, texting about their families and friends, and walking around their hometowns on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. On a trip to the capital in December, they held each other for the first time. […]

5 days ago

Gracie Wiener poses for a photo with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, W...

Associated Press

Historic utility AND high fashion. 80-year-old LL Bean staple finds a new audience as a trendy bag

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it’s a must-have summer fashion accessory. The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they’re monogrammed with […]

5 days ago

Another Met Gala in the books, so how did they do on theme?