The dress code for this year's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit gala was "Avant-Garde," which was appropriate given that it was celebrating the opening of "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between," an exhibition honoring the Japanese designer whose boundary-pushing work is nearly impossible to describe without the term. In fashion, the French term, which translates literally as "advance guard," often refers to innovative silhouettes and techniques that are often more experimental than wearable.
But everyone who turned up to the gala needed to wear something (except, apparently, Bella Hadid, whose skintight Alexander Wang jumpsuit provided little more coverage than a fresh coat of paint) and while not every look was a boundary-pusher, overall the attendees seemed to have a better grasp on the theme than they did for last year's "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" gala, which Kim Kardashian West memorably summed up as "blingy, sexy robot."
A few of the overarching trends — including a run on red and a whole lot of flowers — are detailed below.
The color red had some serious traction on the Met Gala red carpet. Katy Perry, one of the 2017 Met Gala co-chairs, was an early arrival and on-trend in a crimson red Maison Margiela Artisanal wool coat over a tulle and silk chiffon gown designed by John Galliano.
She accessorized her look with a statement-making crown and veil headpiece with large metallic sidepieces and what looked like cursive writing spelling out a word ("witness," according to Twitter) across her forehead in between.
Other statement-making ladies in red included Rose Byrne, Joan Smalls, Emma Roberts (in a lipstick-red satin dress by Diane von Furstenberg), Doutzen Kroes (in an off-the-shoulder gown in lightweight taffeta from 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners Brock Collection) and Pharrell Williams' wife, Helen Lasichanh, who was one of the attendees who paid homage to Kawakubo by wearing a Comme des Garçons outfit. (Another memorable one was Tracee Ellis Ross' sculptural blue coat by the label.)
Was it a case of April showers bringing May flowers? Or simply the first full-blown fashion fete of the spring season? We're not sure what was behind the bumper crop of blossoms blooming on last night's red carpet. Among those spotted rocking floral frocks were Megyn Kelley (in a dark red chiffon gown with white floral embroidery from the fall/winter 2017 Altuzarra collection), Zendaya in Dolce & Gabbana, Daisy Ridley in an Oscar de la Renta dress with a black-and-white floral skirt and generously trailing train and Bee Shaffer in an an ivory patchwork jacquard evening dress from Alexander McQueen.
But two of the evening's biggest, most striking flower-powered ensembles came courtesy of Caroline Kennedy and Rihanna, both of whom turned out in Comme des Garçons outfits that were as much wearable bouquets as dresses. Kennedy, an honorary Met Gala chair and former U.S. ambassador to Japan, chose a tiered gown with flattened floral panels that evoked the idea of origami, while RiRi's ensemble was nearly the opposite — structure-wise — a voluminous dress that made her look for all the world as if she was enveloped in a cloud of loosely scattered fabric flower petals (many of which were, in a meta way, printed with a floral patterns). It was easily one of the standout looks of the night.
In the midst of the over-the-top ensembles (more on our favorites in that category below), the model contingent was a model of restraint — wardrobe-wise — with old-school elegance seeming to be the watchword for Joan Smalls, Behati Prinsloo, Candice Swanepoel and event co-chair Gisele Bündchen, the last of whom stunned in a bespoke pewter embroidered cutout gown by Stella McCartney (part of the Green Carpet Challenge, it was made from certified organic silk and featured allover glass-bead embroidery).
Perfectly accessorizing the supermodel was her Super Bowl champion of a husband, Tom Brady, who matched her perfectly in a silver metallic shawl collar Tom Ford dinner jacket.
Standing out in the crowd
Three of the evening's most memorable looks were ones that, in all honesty, we hadn't seen coming. Elizabeth Banks dazzled our optic nerves in a custom black-and-white sequined optical checkerboard stretch-tulle gown by Michael Kors collection, and Solange Knowles filled our field of vision with a Thom Browne black, down-filled tuxedo coat ensemble paired with the ice skate booties right off New York Fashion Week's February runway.
But it was Priyanka Chopra who made the most interesting entrance — and wardrobe choice — of the evening, a Ralph Lauren collection custom trench coat evening gown with a train that went out behind her for days. In one red-carpet turn, Chopra did more to raise the style profile of the khaki-colored trench than anyone since Thomas Burberry himself.
And how's this for avant-garde? The voluminous skirt was actually removable, which allowed the gown to convert into a trench-inspired minidress.
Check out our photo gallery of looks from the Met Gala’s red carpet.
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