Dropping the (Met) Ball

Dropping the (Met) Ball

Plenty of fashion at this year's event, but where was the innovation?

Plenty of fashion at this year's event, but where was the innovation?

Text: Ian David Monroe

The annual Met Gala is “the Super Bowl of fashion events,” according to Vogue’s editor at large Andre Leon Talley—more specifically, he means the Met Gala’s red carpet. What happens after those stars enter the Metropolitan Museum of Art is anyone’s guess, and it hardly matters. The spectacle of celebrity entrances is what these events are all about, and the added bonus of a theme night makes it all the more fascinating. If, truly, this is fashion’s Super Bowl, then last night the ball was dropped.

And it was fumbled early. The evening’s host, Anna Wintour, broke her own “Tech White Tie” dress code, arriving first in a traditional floor-length Chanel dress. Following close behind was Met Gala co-chair Taylor Swift, who kicked off the rather uninspired metallic-means-tech trend that would proliferate as guests arrived.

It’s hard to recall more than a handful of attendees that didn’t phone-in their look, opting for a shimmery silver gown over a true Manus x Machina-inspired costume. Look, it makes sense: most of these celebrities have spent the better part of this month bopping around from event to event, without any real time to commit to being fitted for a 3D-printed dress, or to arrange an arrival by drone, and that’s a shame. Don’t forget: there was a time when Lady Gaga was dropping into her album launch party in an electric-powered hover dress, but not last night. That’s not to say the pop star didn’t look great—mostly everyone did—but she readily joked that her ensemble only took ten minutes to whip up.

Those who did attempt a proper look swung and mostly missed. Zayn Malik’s armored arms would have been fitting millenniums ago and Julie Macklowe’s sequined bodysuit, unfortunately, resembled more of a tin man than tech. There were some exceptions though. Claire Danes arrived in a majestic glow-in-the-dark dress by Zac Posen, and Emma Watson wore a dress made out of recycled plastic bottles—both interesting interpretations of the futuristic theme.

Truthfully, the most succesful guests of the evening may have been those who decided to forego all pretenses of trying to theme dress: Beyonce looked expectantly refined in a custom Givenchy gown (that may or may not have been a reference to a certain fictional girl's skin and teeth); Nicole Kidman stunned in a bewitching Alexander McQueen piece; and Elle Fanning showed a mature, coming-of-age elegance in her ivory Thakoon gown.

Noticeably missing from the carpet was Rihanna, who was unable to attend due to her tour schedule. Last year, the singer arrived in a long-train Gui Pei couture dress that took an alleged 50,000 hours to create. It matched both the theme—China: Through the Looking Glass—and the magnitude of the night. The designer was also featured in the exhibition, which says plenty about Rihanna’s reach.

Sadly, it’s hard to imagine any of the looks from last night ever ending up in similar Manus x Machina exhibition. In an industry that is meant to be filled with the most imaginative minds alive, why was it so difficult to imagine anything more than just silver and sequins?

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