The Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala was held Monday night, honoring the late Alexander McQueen. I had the privelege of seeing the exhibit on Tuesday morning during a one-day-only Member Preview, and I can tell you this exhibit is not to be missed. His creativity and craftsmenship is on full display, and whether you are a fashion lover or not, you cannot deny his genius. Those in attendance at the gala were not required or asked to wear the designs of the late designer, but many (including myself) wish that more did.
This event hardly garners the media attention that a major awards show does, so it was a bit more difficult to see the gowns in more than a few photographs. What struck me as most odd was the number of women wearing McQueen-like gowns. I found this disconcerting and unclear as to whether this was an homage on the part of the wearer (and McQueen-inpsired designer), or a simple lack of availability in the (sadly) now finite collections of Alexander McQueen’s work.
In particular, Christina Ricci wore a Zac Posen sheer spider web dress that looked so much like a dress in the actual exhibit I had to look it up to check. Beyonce, who was booed by the crowd for not posing for enough pictures on the Red Carpet, was wearing a black and gold heavily embroidered Pucci gown that also smacked of Mr. McQueen’s heavy hand. High neckline, check. Intricate embroidery, check. Tulle fishtail hem, check. Inability to walk in said gown, check (more on this later). Also wearing McQueen inspired dresses were Jennifer Lopez in Gucci — those flowers on the shoulder looked like they were pulled off a mannequin in the exhibit–and Fergie in Marchesa. A word about Ms. Duhamel…..that she is short and married to an extremely tall man aside, I felt her dress wore her. It was over the top, but not in her customary “rock-and-roll-meets-hip-hop” way. She spoke at length on the carpet about the long sleeves and her tiara, both of which were a nod to Sarah Burton’s (the current designer for the House of McQueen and bridal designer to Kate Middleton) creation for Friday’s royal nuptuals. Um. Fergie? Not so much. I find she looks better in thigh high boots and a corset OR a simple simple simple gown showcasing her curves and over the top hair and makeup. This was too much.
A few women actually did wear McQueen, and did so well. Selma Hayak wore a nude, drapey, ethereal strapless gown that was a departure for her and simply gorgeous. Naomi Campbell and Daphne Guiness (who dressed into her gown in the Barney’s windows moments before arriving on the red carpet) both wore more avant guarde creations and were two examples of women who absolutely CAN carry them off without a hitch. Also in McQueen was my choice for best dressed, Gisele Bundchen. She was true to the designer and herself in a red strapless gown with long train and intricate pleating. She looked breezy, easy, not forced, and, most of all able to walk. After the event one hopes she walked her hunk of a husband to a barber, stat.
There were several women who literally could not walk in their dresses. Now, I’ve never been afraid of a little discomfort/pain/inconvenice in my fashion, but if you KNOW FOR CERTAIN that you will be climbing one of the most famous set of stairs in New York City with many many cameras on you…..this might be taken into consideration when choosing your dress. Elle MacPherson famoulsy wore a sequined dress a few years back with flip flops, as only she could. Brilliant.
Also of note were Blake Lively, the new muse/spokesperson/PR stuntwoman for Chanel. I didnt love this dress, I felt it hid her perfect figure and was too old for her. Demi Moore and Serena Williams also seemed inspired by the Royal Wedding wearing Phillip Treacy Crazy Hats. I will say this about Crazy Hats…..Royal Wedding, fine. ANYWHERE ELSE: not. That moment has passed. Move on.
I was most disappointed in the Rachel Zoe-styled Joy Bryant — she was wearing a Missoni sweater dress with long sleeves that was far too casual and felt too fall. She may have literally been trying to Zig where everyone else went Zag (read formal), but I felt it missed the mark. Jenna Lyons, the creative director of J. Crew was wearing (shock!) J. Crew, but I also felt the ‘large sloppy cashmere sweater effortlessly thrown on with a long feather skirt’ look was too casual and not ironic enough for this crowd. Jenna is probably still getting over Toemaggedon, but seriously? Why are you wearing page 45 of your catalog?
Gwentyh Paltrow’s simple beaded backless dress felt too close to her recent Calvin Klein Oscar dress, and Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba did the ‘Pregnant at a Gala’ thing just fine. Iman was stunning in a gold sequined Stella McCartney jumpsuit that was made for her. She falls under the “can do no wrong” heading, but I have to say this was one of many outfits designed by the wildly popular Daughter of Paul, and most certainly my favorite. I want SO much to love Stella McCartney, but I just find her work to be so disparate and disjointed, I have a love/hate relationship with much of her work. Seeing Madonna’s American Flag-meets-Geisha girl getup next to Rihanna’s peek-a-boo lace number (complete with Avatar freaky braid-tail) you would never know these were from the same designer. That annoys me.
Elle & Dakota Fanning wore Valentino creations that were amazing. Elle’s was probably not understood by the general public and its a good thing she wored it before Michele Williams got a hold of it — it was truly made for Elle’s style and youth.
Andre Leon Talley & Hamish Bowles were two men in the crowd worth mentioning. Andre, dear, are you listening? Stop with the large capes. It doesn’t matter if its Balenciage, it winds up looking like a parachute, and this is not a signature look worth maintaining. And Hamish? I was hoping SJP would wear the plaid, but you wore it well. Nicely done.
To see a full slideshow of the fashions at this event, go to this link: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2011/05/see_all_the_looks_from_the_201.html?mid=374092&rid=261676788#photo=20×87266