The annual Met Gala in New York is considered the party of the year and there was no doubt about it last May 1 when celebrities and change-makers from fashion, film, tech, politics, sports and social media all congregated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise money for its Costume Institute, which was opening the exhibit, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.”
Referred to as “The ATM of the Met,” the gala, which raised $17.4 million last year, has tickets more than doubling to $50,000 this year. Being able to afford a seat is no guarantee of entry, however, since guests are all approved by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who has been the gala’s chief mastermind since 1999, turning the event from a ho-hum charity affair to the power event that everyone looks forward to.
This year is particularly exciting because the subject of the exhibit who died last 2019 is very controversial, “a provocateur,” as Anna herself admits about her friend, who is known for his candor and sharp tongue in voicing opinions that do not sit well with today’s woke generation.
“But we are celebrating the work, and not the man,” she clarified, and Andrew Bolton, the Met curator, chose about 200 pieces from over 10,000 that spans Lagerfeld’s 65-year career, from Balmain, Patou and Chloé to Fendi, Chanel and his eponymous label. There was definitely a lot to inspire attendees for their outfits with their designers’ ateliers working double-time to create that quintessential look “in honor of Karl.”
Karl Lagerfeld’s look with powdered ponytail, dark glasses, black jeans and jacket, high-collared Hilditch & Key white shirt, fingerless gloves and tons of Chrome Hearts jewelry made him an easy caricature to copy, with many men like Ke Huy Quan and Simu Liu donning the look. The late designer’s fan-carrying days were also a favorite: Conan Gray’s fan was embellished with pearls, as was his outfit, while Jordan Roth decided to come as the fan itself. Jeremy Pope shut down the red carpet with an image of Karl on his train, which was as big as a billboard.
Of course, Rihanna had to come as a bride since it’s the finale of a fashion show and she’s always the last to arrive — two hours past the red carpet closing hours. She was cocooned in a camellia-embellished cape to cover her $25 million Cartier jewels, while her groom, A$AP Rocky, wore a black blazer and tartan kilt over jewel-encrusted jeans. Co-chair Penelope Cruz invoked her Spanish heritage with a mantilla-style veil to complement her vintage Chanel gown. Alton Mason, the first black man to walk for Chanel in 2018, also came as one of the house’s brides.
The iconic Chanel tweed saw many tributes, but Thom Browne executed the boldest ones, with Janelle Monáe’s jacket that was stripped off to reveal a hoop skirt and sequined bikini, and Korean supermodel Sora Choi’s giant tweed jacket used as a cape over a suit-gown. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s tuxedo had layers of tweed, from a long coat to a cardigan and cardigan skirt, while Jenna Ortega wore a bolero over a deconstructed pannier embellished with gold chains.
The camellia, one of the codes of Chanel, as well as other flowers, were all over, even with the boys like Bad Bunny, who had a long, flower-studded stole to match his white backless suit and Harvey Guillén, who had huge ones in his all-pink outfit.
The Chanel pearls were also abundant—in multiple swags on Kim Kardashian’s nude gown and in stripes on the bodice of Lizzo’s black ensemble.
Choupette, Karl’s beloved Birman cat, who was supposedly left $1.6m in his will, posted her regrets on her IG page but others came to pay tribute: Doja Cat wearing prosthetics to look the part with a hooded gown hand-beaded with 350,000 silver bugle beads, and Jared Leto in full furry-mascot mode that was created in total secrecy by production studio SCPS.
Capes and trains
Ahead of the coming coronation in London, Julia Garner was a caped crusader and Jennifer Lopez and Viola Davis had trains trailing behind them.
There was plenty of shine to go around, with Lil Nas X wearing but a thong and silver body paint embellished with 5,000 crystal stones and 218,784 round flat-back Swarovski crystals, executed by Pat McGrath. Anok Yai’s sequined dress rained down in cascades to her feet, while Michaela Coel’s sheer gown was dripping with jewels.
The evening could not be complete without Lagerfeld’s catwalk stars and muses wearing their favorite outfits from the designer: Nicole Kidman in the feathered gown from her Chanel No. 5 ad campaign in 2004, Naomi Campbell in a 2010 toga wrapped across a sparkling top, and Gisele Bündchen caped over a sequined gown from 2007.