The Met Ball is usually my favourite red carpet event of the year. It’s all about the fashion, daaahling, which usually means everyone forgets about playing safe and instead sets upon the dress-up box with all the unrestrained glee of a five year old child. The scene was set for the Met Gala 2011 to be the most craziest amazingest one of all, as it was held in honour of fashion maverick Alexander McQueen, with a theme of Savage Beauty. So what did the A-Listers do? Decide to play it safe, of course!
Given that style slideshows for the Met Ball usually number in the hundreds rather than the tens, is it not disappointing that only about a dozen of the attendees bothered to wear the designer they were supposed to be paying tribute to? Ciara (in Prabal Gurung) actually tweeted something about being excited that her dress was ‘very reminiscent of Alexander McQueen’ – why don’t you just wear McQueen then, you eejit?! At least she did better than most with a feathery gown that was just about dramatic enough to be reminiscent of McQueen – I’m yet to discover how boring beige or pretty princess dresses could be connected.
So it seems only fitting to kick off my red carpet rundown with the folk who bothered to wear the designer. Yes, on any other night, they may have looked like whacked-out mentalists yet here, they were just about the only ones who looked like they could read an invitation. And some even offer a telling reminder that McQueen wasn’t all about whacked-out mentalists in the first place. The most fitting tribute of all?
And chief amongst them, Gisele. She not only totally OWNED the event, she made everyone else wonder why? Why they’d bothered to make an effort, why they’d turned up at all, why they weren’t as beautiful as Gisele, why the hell they hadn’t worn McQueen, … all the above and much much more. There are no more words to describe what is basically perfection.
And how awesome is this photo of Gisele and Naomi Campbell?! ‘TA-DA!!!’ From one end of the McQueen spectrum, dramatic yet simple breath-taking beauty, to the other – ornate embroidery, avante-garde embellishments, this is haute couture that simply isn’t intended for mere mortals. Campbell shows it might not even work for models but I applaud her for trying. And if anyone else was going to try and pull off wearing a coat of arms on their boobs and streams of loo paper everywhere else, I’m sure as hell glad it’s batshit-crazy Naomi. She even manages to look almost regal.
Anna Dello Russo shows how to make mentalist work; admittedly, it helps if you’re renowned in the fashion community for making mentalist your uniform. So she’s wearing an egg on her head, a matador’s outfit on her body, the most beautiful pair of gold booties on her feet and her sleeves are detaching themselves from the shoulders – and she looks smokin’. If she got any cooler, Wintour would have to kill her. Maybe.
It was mostly left up to fashion folk to pay tribute so here’s Liu Wen (who?) and Constance Jablonski (who???) in McQueen designs. I love Wen’s sexy number, which is all about the striking neckline and immaculate cut. The smoky eyes, strong lips and fierce cuffs totally work as well, like some classy exceedingly well-dressed dominatrix. I’m less certain about Jablonski’s ensemble – the powdery mottled grey print is soft and lovely, she looks ridiculously long and lean and the metallic belt stops it all from becoming a drippy watercolour. But the elephant in the room is the ruff, which does make it look like Constance’s lovely face is being served up on a platter or has been Photoshopped on afterwards. Then again, she’s a model and ends up looking pretty great anyway.
I lurve Karen Elson’s gold gown with a tarnished antique effect that makes it look like it’s decaying – but in such style! Together with that gorgeous red hair teased over one eye and that flawless porcelain skin, she looks like she could give those 1950s screen sirens a run for their money. Though she’d need to grow some boobs first, obviously.
I also love love love Hilary Rhoda’s Victoriana-esque coat dress. It’s not the kind of thing I usually love and I’m dying to give her a top hat and whip but I just think it looks stunning. It’s something about that crisp white colour and the brilliance of the design and tailoring that makes what is essential a gentleman’s riding jacket… and not even one from this century… look exquisitely feminine, high-fashion and would never have ended up as anything else. And we’ve not even mentioned her Union Jack clutch yet, which is just so many shades of awesome it outshone most of the other red carpet walkers.
Daphne Guinness, Raquel Zimmerman and Coco Rocha all wore looks from McQueen’s most recent collection, designed by (obligatory Royal Wedding mention) Sarah Burton. As you can see, feathers may have been a prominent theme. Coco’s is obviously the most understated and I love the tribal feel of the gold embellishments. Raquel’s is next in the swan evolution line and although that’s a hell of a lot of dress, you gotta love the dramz; it truly is evil black swan princess territory. Finally, we have dear old Daphne, rocking two types of feather and only a few tweets away from sprouting wings – let’s not think how many birds are wandering around bald thanks to this collection – who looks some kind of fabulous. It’s totally outrageous, ridiculously flamboyant and yet it works. It’s more likely that she could lay an egg in it than sit down, but as far as fashion statements go, it’s so gloriously deliciously overblown that I can’t resist. We need more Daphnes on the red carpet – for the lolz if for nothing else.
Trust Sarah Jessica Parker to show everyone how it’s done. To all that thought McQueen was all tartan, spikes and outrageousness, here she showcases classy elegant shimmering sophistication. It’s little unexpected touches like the cowl neck and three-quarter length sleeves that make this even more stunning than your average glittery gown, whilst the ice blue shoes are just so so right. And I get the feeling you don’t often get to say that about ice blue shoes so let’s all wallow in that.
Salma Hayek is a brand ambassador for McQueen so it’s no surprise she turned up wearing the label, even if I’ve never been convinced of the match-up. McQueen often seems too edgy for Hayek and the elaborate designs a little too busy for her short curvy body but this gown is lovely. It’s soft, romantic, flowing and languorous, the draping just so. The colour is a little too close to her skin-tone to make it an unqualified success but the dress itself is beautiful.
And then there’s Chloe Sevigny. I don’t get Chloe’s signature much-feted style and frankly, I’ve given up trying. This is exactly the sort of unflattering frumpy outfit I’d expect her to turn up in, McQueen or not. Her boobs couldn’t get more saggy-looking if you hung weights on them. The iddy-biddy tie is an unnecessary afterthought from a designer staring despondently at the image of Colonel Sanders on his KFC bucket. The hair is just… there. Flatly malevolent. Much like the whole ensemble. Sorry but no.