By Avery Novitch
On Monday, May 5, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute hosted its 42nd annual Gala in New York City in honor of the opening of the costume exhibit. Anna Wintour, the event sponsor, in attempt to reclaim the gala’s exclusivity and formality, helped in selecting a theme for the gala that would complement the subject of this year’s costume exhibit.
This year’s exhibit pays homage to Anglo-American couturier Charles James, who integrated aesthetic beauty with advanced technological construction. The chosen theme of decorative white tie encouraged both the women and men in attendance to push the boundaries of fashion and art.
The Met Gala, renowned as the fashion industry’s most important and glamorous evening, showcases the magnificent intersection between visual art, aesthetic architecture and modern fashion. This Monday, celebrities, socialites and influencers definitely rose to the occasion in embodying the artistic spirit of the evening.
Several ladies in attendance sported headpieces as part of their ensembles. Beyoncé’s black, netted veil perfectly complemented her plunging-neck, sheer-black Givenchy Couture gown. Lupita Nyong’o also accessorized with a headpiece. Her green, embellished headband integrated seamlessly into her unique brown-and-green Prada look.
Many women in attendance decided against gowns in favor of pants. The chromatic simplicity of Cara Delevinge’s Stella McCartney white pants was balanced by her provocative black, cut-out cropped blouse. Brie Larson proved that pants can be just as aesthetically interesting and sophisticated as any gown in her gold-and-blue Prada patterned tunic-and-pants ensemble. Janelle Monáe also opted for pants, but her Tadashi Shoji look was anything but boring. Her embellished, white turtle-neck and red-and-black, sleeveless coat added the perfect amount of visual drama.
As always, red hues made a statement on the Met’s red carpet. Anne Hathaway, Arizona Muse, Allison Williams and Lake Bell managed to select gowns that were all unique and individual despite the sharing the popular color red.
Crop tops also had their moment on the red carpet, appearing in the ensembles of Gabrielle Union, Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone and Rihanna. The fashionistas who incorporated crop tops, a supposedly casual garment, into their looks did so with aesthetic interest and elevated sophistication.
Some ladies drew inspiration from the historical aspect of the evening, channeling the Hollywood glamour that was in style when Charles James was designing. Blake Lively was flawless in an embellished, champagne, Gucci Première mermaid-style gown. Idina Menzel also paid tribute to old Hollywood glamour with an embellished, figure-hugging, white Donna Karan dress, paired with side-swept, vintage waves and red lips.
Possibly the most popular color palette of the evening was black and white. This classic color combination appeared in the innovative and fashion-forward looks of Charlize Theron, Erykah Badu, Hailee Steinfeld, Jessica Paré, Zoë Saldana and Anna Kendrick.
The women, however, were not the only guests who dressed to impress. Kanye West, Jim Parsons and Johnny Depp, to name a few, all appeared in the classic and elegant white tie and tails. Frank Ocean, David Beckham and Jay-Z, among others, selected white jackets.
Other male guests wore slightly more adventurous outfits. Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka took the concept of decorative white tie very seriously in their unique Thom Browne tuxedos. Ryan Reynolds opted for a more tame variation on the classic look with a black velvet Gucci tuxedo. Similarly, Andrew Garfield appeared in a grey-and-black Brand of Outsiders tuxedo. Both men looked simultaneously classic and innovative in their ensembles.
This successful evening certainly captured the artistic and cultural relevance of historical fashion to modern fashion. “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” opened Thursday, May 8, 2014, and will remain open until August 10, 2014. Check out the exhibit this summer to understand how costume transcends all realms, including art, architecture and history, and truly goes beyond fashion.