So more people wore Stella McCartney than Alexander McQueen at the Met Gala 2011, despite the fact it was supposed to be held in McQueen’s honour. But plenty of other people fulfilled the theme of Savage Beauty instead, right? Errr… The scratching sound you hear is me desperately scraping the barrel for attendees that were doing anything just a teensy bit untamed. I think you’ll know how seriously said barrel has been scraped when I tell you that Taylor Swift has made this list…
Liv Tyler in Givenchy – Liv was another of my favourites of the night in this Givenchy gown, even if she didn’t pair it with the insane headpiece (which could have turned things literally savage if she poked some fashionista’s eye out with a rogue antler). I usually don’t understood the fuss about Liv but I have to admit, she looks properly ethereally gorgeous here. The dress is from the same collection as Florence Welch’s Grammys gown but in my opinion, this one is so much better. Why? Well, fluorescent yellow feathers of course! The feather detailing down the body is so intricate and ornate and beautiful, and the way it dovetails (hey, see what I did there?!) into the yellow ombre effect is subtle yet stunning. And I love how Liv has pulled that colour out with the pop of her neon yellow clutch. She just looks heaven-sent.
Christina Ricci in Zac Posen – This, my Stella McCartney clad friends, is how you do Savage Beauty. It’s dramatic. It’s overblown. It’s impossible not to notice. And as such, it’s a perfect tribute to McQueen. How appropriate too that it’s Wednesday Adams wearing this Gothic spectacle of a dress. It looks like it was fashioned from cobwebs, with Christina rising above them as the ultimate black widow of them all. It says something about her star presence that, given she’s about the size of an oompa-loompa in real life, she’s not overwhelmed by the huge train or the opulent theatricality of the gown. Instead, she just belongs. A deliciously dark delight.
Diane Kruger in Jason Wu – Diane Kruger was another of my favourites of the night. This might not be the style statement of Ricci but at least it’s trying to do something a little bit different, and it’s certainly enough of a departure from Wu’s typically beautiful but safe designs to merit attention. I love the old Hollywood glamour Diane is bringing to this look and there is something a little bit dangerous about that sexy thigh-high split. She looks sensational.
Jennifer Lopez in Gucci – The first time I saw this dress, I hated it. But as I watched the parade of uninspiring outfits filter by, I began to have a new-found appreciation for this one. Firstly, that striking power-punch of cerise is an amazing colour on J. Lo, and the way she’s matched it with that lipstick – well, I wouldn’t expect anything less! Secondly, the shape is interesting without being overpowering. Thirdly, the flower shrug… well, I love it. It gives the dress so much more drama whilst also being beautiful and romantic and quirky and wild. Jennifer wears it with a sense of ‘Flowers as a cardigan? Why, but I do it all the time! Marc personally plucked these from the garden before we came…’ that just makes me love it even more. With her hair scraped back, I expect her to break out into a passionate flamenco and finish off by throwing bits of her shrug to an appreciative audience. In short, I’m making up a whole story from just one dress. Either I’m mental (and exhausted by so many dresses) or this really is fine work from Mr Gucci. I’m hoping for the latter!
Crystal Renn in Zac Posen – It seems that of all the designers who custom-made gowns for this event, it was only Zac Posen who actually bothered to read the invite. He brings the drama again with this number, which has a Victorian villainess feel to it. In fact, I expect Crystal to be robbing carriages or stealing crystal lockets at balls. How exhausting it must be to be a model and keep up this level of high drama and fierce pouting all night, although I have to say, I did prefer Crystal in her curvier days. I hope she managed to master an evil cackle for the night as well.
Shalom Harlow in Marchesa – What’s this, a Marchesa dress that doesn’t look like a wedding gown?! This dress is more a feat of engineering than anything else, it’s so insanely structural and yet still soft and swirly, which makes for an interesting contrast. That black detail looks so organic, like it just flowed right onto the gown from an ink well, and reminds me of those butterflies you see made out of craft paper on homemade greetings cards; I’m stunned and charmed that Shalom managed to find the one hair grip in the city that exactly matched that effect.
Ciara in Prabal Gurung – You may remember Ciara tweeting that her dress was reminiscent of McQueen and me being annoyed that she didn’t just, you know, wear McQueen. At this rate however, anything is better than nothing and this dress follows the feather theme of the other Sarah Burton dresses we saw that evening, even it’s a little less flamboyant. Then again, how much less flamboyant can feathers be?! This dress is a fairly standard shape but the ombre effect is rather dreamy and I am absolutely obsessed with Ciara’s cuff. I want one myself so I can pretend to be She-Ra round the house again.
Karolina Kukova in Jean Paul Gaultier – Another divinely theatrical look being worked by another divinely fierce model. From some angles, this dress was like a Magic Eye picture where you had to spot the leggings; how amazingly mind-bogglingly bonkers an idea to fashion them out of the same lace as the lining of the skirt. Karolina carries this off with such an effortless poise and majestic sense of ownership, as if she walks around all the time fanning out her underskirts for all to see. It’s a startlingly clever dress but it also just looks uniquely magnificent. You can’t get much better than that.
Bar Refaeli in Reem Acra – Opulence personified. Do gowns get more spendidly exotically decadent than this? Bar is totally channelling Cleopatra in this gown and it’s so richly detailed AND GOLDEN AND SHINY that I can’t help but fall for it a little, even if it isn’t doing her figure any major favours. I love the small turquoise elements that are brought out further by her earrings and handbag – I’m a sucker for turquoise and these fashion folk seem to be great at making accent colours pop for the better. Meanwhile, all Bar has to do is be reincarnated as a mannequin in a department store and capture an 80s Brat Packer’s heart and I’ll be one very happy bunny. [This is a long-winded reference to one of my favourite films of all time and ultimate guilty pleasure, Mannequin, starring a young Kim Cattrall, a Golden Girl, a bombastic Starship power ballad and one of the most preposterous plots of all time. I don’t get to chuck Mannequin references in very often, so please humour me.]
Beyonce in Emilio Pucci – Here’s a gown that really was savage, as Beyonce could hardly breathe/pose/move in it and eventually had to hauled up the stairs by various minions after she almost fell down them. I’m all for suffering for fashion but at least make it fashion that’s actually nice to look at?! This reminds me of another of the ugliest dresses in recent memory, coincidentally also worn by Beyonce at 2009’s Oscars. That was designed by her own line, House of Dereon, and I thought this was too… but in fact, it’s by Pucci! It’s so tacky and vulgar looking, like the kind of cheap imitation Baroque fireplace that’s the first thing people have ripped out of their new home on property shows. Her head looks like it’s ready to pop off due to how long she’s been holding her breath, whilst she actually appears to be listing like the Leaning Tower of Pisa except much more precarious, like she’s ready to keel over. And the glory hole for her boobs? Seriously? At the Met Gala?! I have to leave the final words to Fashion Critic at the Red Carpet Fashion Awards: ‘This might be a custom Pucci design, but it has Tina Knowles written all over it’. Trust me, insults in the fashion world don’t come much greater!
Leighton Meester in Louis Vuitton – Well, the theme was Savage Beauty and this outfit is positively vicious all-round! Every element seemed to have been sourced from some sort of fetish bondage shop and it all just looks a little hard and uncomfortable. Normally Leighton manages to sell her look, however ridiculous (remember that time you could see her entire bare ass in a lace jumpsuit?), but here she looks rather tame and unconvinced herself – more heavy-duty black eyeliner required, methinks! Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief as I’ve always liked Leighton and prefer to think of her without any sado-masochistic undertones.
Saoirse Ronan in Rodarte – This has clearly been cobbled together from charity shop finds. The bottom half is a vintage sequinned ballgown that you’re not quite sure about but hey, it’s so cheap and SJP always makes these things work, so why the hell not? (Said before it languishes in your wardrobe for years on end). The top half is an 80s power-suit, possibly worn by a tv anchorwoman, maybe even Ann Diamond. And the shoes? Well, no-one knows what Saoirse was thinking with the shoes. I’m really happy that Saoirse isn’t going down the typical teen ingénue route with her style choices (hello, Dakota Fanning) but this isn’t Rodarte’s finest effort. Interesting? Yes. Attractive? Hellz no. (That being said, perhaps some model in strong directional make-up and constant Crystal Renn glare might have made it work.)
Taylor Swift in J Mendel – Yes, Taylor Swift managed to make a list with the word ‘Savage’ in it. Sweet, pretty, innocent Taylor, with her long curly hair and guitar and songs about love and butterflies and John Meyer being a douche. But this is a pleasant departure from her usual spangles o’ clock setting and in fact, she looks genuinely classically beautiful whilst the stronger make-up is a sophisticated more grown-up touch than we’re used to getting from Taylor. The gown is yet another in the nude brigade but there’s darker forces at work too. I love how that black detail cascades up one shoulder and how, if you look closely, the same detail is continued in the main fabric of the dress too. The frayed edges, the aged beige colour (that you got by swishing about a used tea-bag in art), the way that black pattern feels like a vine slowly climbing over and covering the dress like a rambling old mansion or a strangely beautiful type of mould – yes, there I go creating a story again but there’s an intriguing sense of decay about this gorgeous gown that makes it so much more than stereotype pretty.
Doutzen Kroes in Giambattista Valli – Uh-oh, someone got out-Giselled! Under normal circumstance, this might have been a show-stopping dress but once you’ve got Giselle throwing shapes the other side of the room in an even more show-stopping dress, this striking red number becomes almost ordinary in comparison. What I do like is the juxtaposition between the very clean, almost harsh lines of the top half, compared with the pouffy volume of the bottom. Pretty… but just not Giselle.
Keri Hilson in Atelier Versace – More juxtaposition (yay as it’s one of my favourite words) with this gown, where there’s some overtly sexy form-fitting knitwear up-top contrasted with some princess-gown tulle clouds floating around the bottom. I love the dusty periwinkle colour but I’m not so in love with what Keri’s bringing to the gown. The tacky yellow rootsy hair? (Whose natural hair colour is that; it sure as hell isn’t hers!) The overdose of eyeshadow? The vast array of bling? The boobs clinging on to that neckline for their life? What on the model looks like an interesting neckline, Keri makes look like visible bra straps. Which just about says it all.
Blake Lively in Chanel – Well, I had to put Blake in here didn’t I? Love her or hate her, at least she’s never boring with her style choices. I’m really not sure about the new strawberry blonde hair though – I loved it on her debut redhead look but here, I think something needs to give, either the tan or the dye, as they’re just jostling around too close for comfort colour-wise. I’m not crazy about the dress either; half toga party, half raunchy figure skater. And however much Blake tries to sell it to me with her trademark attitude and orgasm-face, it’s still kinda tacky. Even if it’s Chanel. (Don’t tell Karl).