Not quite Karl: The Met Gala plays it silly and safe
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Only the Met Gala red carpet could leave spectators feeling underwhelmed, despite the appearance of actor Jared Leto in a cat costume, singer Lil Nas X barely wearing embellished underpants and Nicole Kidman in a haute couture dress from her 2004 commercial for Chanel No.5 perfume.
We expect gasp-inducing drama at Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s annual fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, but this time Jennifer Lopez in a revealing Ralph Lauren dress felt as familiar as Florence Pugh in a silly hat.
Nicole Kidman in vintage Chanel haute couture; Lil Nas X in a body paint tribute to Karl Lagerfeld’s pet Choupette and Rihanna in Valentino.Credit: AP
The bar might have been set too high by Rihanna in Guo Pei’s ‘pizza dress’ (2015), Pose actor Billy Porter in a winged bodysuit (2019) and Kim Kardashian borrowing Marilyn Monroe’s gown from the Smithsonian Institute last year.
Most of this year’s invited supermodels, musicians, available Hollywood actors and retired tennis players, either played safe within the dress code In honour of Karl (that’s legendary Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld to the uninitiated) or seriously overshot – we mentioned Leto’s cat suit, right? A bizarre tribute to Lagerfeld’s pet Choupette, who was handsomely rewarded in the designer’s will following his death in 2019.
The meh mood was embodied by Rihanna, a late arrival even by fashion standards, wearing a white Valentino haute couture wedding dress that was half-camelia cocoon, half-train and totally just fine.
Even Kardashian was missing her usual headline-grabbing fashion mojo, in a custom Schiaparelli gown consisting of ropes of pearls on top of a granny pants bodysuit that missed the nude illusion sweet spot.
Ignoring Kardashian, if possible, there were some pearl-clutching moments. Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway nailed the theme in a custom gown by Donatella Versace, wittily applying Gianni Versace’s signature safety pins to Lagerfeld’s tweedy approach at Chanel.
Emmy-winning actor and writer Michaela Coel – who co-chaired the event alongside Wintour, Dua Lipa, Penélope Cruz and Roger Federer – cleverly fused design aesthetics in an extravagantly embellished Schiaparelli gown.
The surprises stopped when celebrity stylists went straight to the Chanel archives. Kidman’s fashion callback, adorned with 250 pink feathers and 3000 silver crystals and sequins demonstrated her enduring slender figure but fell flatter than husband Keith Urban’s straightened hair.
Dua Lipa came closer to hitting the Karl-shaped mark in an ivory wool tweed dress, originally worn by former Chanel muse Claudia Schiffer on the runway in 1992. The Break My Heart singer accessorised the outfit with a Tiffany & Co. necklace with a central diamond of more than 200 carats, but unfortunately ditched the whimsical miniature boater hat and bolero jacket modelled by Schiffer.
Actor and frequent Chanel model Kristen Stewart joined Broadway actor Ben Platt, A$AP Rocky and rapper Jackson Wang in adopting Lagerfeld’s uniform, embracing the masculine tailoring of a bolero jacket and trousers from Chanel’s 2016 cruise collection.
Even Margot Robbie’s Chanel gown with plastic panels and pearls, originally worn by Cindy Crawford during the spring 1993 runway show, was absolutely adequate.
Everything honoured Karl, but lacked the unique flair Lagerfeld brought to his collections for Chloe, Fendi, Balmain, Patou and Chanel. This was the impresario who staged a runway event on the Great Wall of China in 2007 and installed a 265-ton iceberg on the Paris runway for a Chanel show in 2010, with snow imported from Sweden.
By comparison, Leto’s cat suit and Lil Nas X in a g-string were never going to make a lasting impression.
Pre-publicity for the gala set the red carpet up for failure, with unrealised rumours of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the invitation list and Dune actor Timothée Chalamet holding beauty entrepreneur Kylie Jenner’s hand on the red carpet. Instead, Jenner wore a bright red dress inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier and King Charles doesn’t have to worry about having his coronation outfit upstaged by his daughter-in-law.
The search for stimulation became so great that photographers fixated on a cockroach crawling the red carpet, before a heel brought their 15 minutes of fame to a close. Cockroaches might be incredibly resilient, but even they can’t survive the Met Gala.
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