By Helena Macaulay
Earlier this month came the highly anticipated, annual return of the Met Gala. This time, due to the latest Costume Institute exhibition “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty”, it was the prominent career of the late designer which was honoured. Attendees found creative ways of doing so, inspired by his renowned work with several fashion houses, such as Balmain, Fendi, Chloé, and – above all – his role in the modern revival of Chanel, where he remained the creative director from 1983 until his death in February 2019.
Living up to her character’s stage name in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, the ‘sparkling diamond’ of this year’s Met Gala was certainly Nicole Kidman. Dressed in a pink, vintage Chanel gown, that Lagerfeld designed for her in 2004, Kidman looked ethereal. Naomi Campbell, Gisele Bündchen, and Dua Lipa, one of this year’s hosts, also wore archival Chanel looks, proving that a dress should never just be worn once. Campbell wore a rose, sari-inspired gown and the latter two stunned in wedding dresses, designed by Lagerfeld. Bündchen looked almost angelic in a striped, sequined gown, cloaked in a feathered cape, whilst Lipa paired her show-stopping, tweed gown with an impressive 100-carat diamond necklace, by Tiffany & Co. Many other guests were also inspired by Lagerfeld’s iconic Chanel brides, but it was Alton Mason who broke gender boundaries and achieved the most dramatic bridal look, by pairing a jeweled veil with a lace, Chanel jumpsuit.
Dua Lipa, one of this year’s hosts, also wore archival Chanel looks, proving that a dress should never just be worn once
Also dazzling in white dresses, but staying far from bridal gowns, were Olivia Wilde and Anne Hathaway. Wilde cut a sleek, elegant figure in a Chloé dress that was inspired by a 1983 Lagerfeld design. Wilde’s dress kept the same cutouts, capped sleeves, and golden, violin design as the original, which is featured in the exhibition itself. Hathaway glowed in a safety-pin-adorned Versace gown that celebrated the tweed, camellias and pearls that were so often featured in Lagerfeld’s designs.
Many attendees took inspiration more directly from Lagerfeld’s signature look: his platinum ponytail, sunglasses, and a white shirt, with a dramatic collar and a sleek black tie. Cardi B, although she wore four different dresses during the evening, executed this particularly well through her red-carpet look. The rapper wore a black Chen Peng gown, inspired by Chanel’s iconic, quilted bags and camellias, worn over a white, sleeveless shirt, and finished with a black tie and a dramatic, platinum wig.
Undoubtedly, the most bizarre look of the night was that of Jared Leto, who dressed up in an enormous cat costume, mimicking Lagerfeld’s beloved pet. However, as Alton Mason’s bridal look proved, it is always a pleasure to see male attendees being bold with their outfits, just as it is slightly underwhelming to see a standard black suit. Roger Federer, despite being one of the hosts of this year’s Met Gala, unfortunately fell into this category. Though the inside lining of his suit was printed with Lagerfeld’s sketches, it otherwise lacked that extra element of excitement that we hope to see at the Met Gala. On the other end of the spectrum, one of the most striking outfits of the night was worn by Jeremy Pope. His 10-metre Balmain cape, featuring an enormous portrait of Karl Lagerfeld, was surprisingly a complete success. Though exceedingly dramatic, the floral-embroidered, white cape was paired with black, flared trousers, and so Pope achieved a monochromatic look that played homage to Lagerfeld’s tastes as a designer.
It is always a pleasure to see male attendees being bold with their outfits, just as it is slightly underwhelming to see a standard black suit
It would be impossible to conclude this without mentioning Rihanna, who consistently impresses year after year. As usual, she arrived fashionably late, dressed in a white Valentino gown with a train that pooled around her on the steps to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though she arrived rather strangely cocooned in 30 giant camellias, she then removed this and wore it as a cape and ultimately proved to all that she is always worth the wait.
This year’s red carpet was a successful reminder that the Met Gala is an occasion to bring together drama, elegance, and creativity, in unison. If achieved harmoniously, the guests are able to honour not only the astonishing careers of designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, but also the genius and hard work of all those involved in the design and creation process.
Illustrations: Amy Nugent