Met Gala 2018 Proves Heavenly
The annual Met Gala is a work of promotional genius for fashion politics as prescribed by organizer and 2018 co-chair Anna Wintour. Not only does it combine the exclusivity of celebrity, fashion, art and glamour for an evening of mystery (no cameras allowed inside after the red carpet), but it’s also for a good cause since it functions as the Costume Institute’s main source of funding for future exhibitions. The first Monday of May presents fashion at its most uninhibited, and last night’s event did not disappoint.
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The exhibition titled, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” served as the starting point of inspiration for designers and guests to interpret in contemporary reworkings of religious art, iconography and sexual irony. Who better to represent this unholy union than Donatella Versace? She sat as co-chair of the gala this year (along with Wintour, Amal Clooney and Rihanna) and represented the brand of choice for many of the evening’s stars who proudly wore the iconic chainmail gowns—a kind of flamboyant interpretation of knights of the Crusade, in this context—including Kim Kardashian West in a liquid gold, curve-hugging vintage 90’s gown with cross details and Katy Perry’s chain mail mini paired with thigh-high boots and tremendous feathered angel wings. Zendaya channeled Joan of Arc in a silver Versace chainmail gown overlayed with a collar and bodice crafted of metal suit of armor plates, and The Migos showed up in bold, colorful coordinated suits boasting signature Versace imagery.
Dolce & Gabbana proved to be another obvious but essential Italian go-to for a slightly more literal translation of Catholic themes. Sarah Jessica Parker wore a medieval-esque gold brocade gown and matching floor length cape with sparkling red heart accents, punctuated by a headdress modeled after a Neapolitan nativity scene. Game of Thrones heroine Emilia Clark opted for Renaissance cherubs and gold embroidery flourishes in an exquisite black lace gown by the designers, and let’s not overlook Tabitha Simmons’ stunning coat adorned with images of Madonna and Child, roses, gold beading and sequin which she wore so perfectly over a pink frothy tulle gown. The circular crown she wore, an accessory worn by many guests that night, mimics the symbol of a halo which is found in paintings and represents divine-ness of the trinity. The only way you could possibly avoid the issue of blasphemy is to try to detach the visual branding of Catholicism from all things spiritual and religious.
Many designer/ celebrity teams went the opposite direction, favoring a more monastic, minimal approach and finding inspiration in the clean lines and black and white robes worn by nuns and priests. Laura Dern’s Proenza Schouler gown and Janelle Monae’s Marc Jacobs dress and 80s inspired jacket was more of a contemporary nod, while Lilly Collin’s Givenchy gown showcased the classic neckline that they’re known for but made goth by cutouts in the bodice and a sheer floor length hem. Anthony Vaccarello embraced all textures of black and all silhouettes of the LBD in his designs for Saint Laurent, worn by the most rock and roll group at the gala: Kate Moss, Zoe Kravitz, Amber Valetta and Jamie Bochert.
Everyone was waiting to see what co-chair Rihanna would be wearing, and she delivered in a pearl and crystal-embellished Maison Margiela gown which featured a cut out to a mini skirt in the front, paired with a matching jacket resembling a robe and papal hat. In the same spirit of the theatrical, Francis McDormond navigated the scene in a turquoise and chartreuse Valentino gown by Piccioli Pierpaolo, and Philip Treacy headpiece that covered her face—a look that only she could really pull off, accentuating its flamboyance with dramatic poses.
Speaking of drama, Madonna herself arrived in a regal all-black long sleeve gown by longtime collaborator Jean Paul Gaultier. An extraordinary crown of jeweled crosses held up a netted veil covering her face, and she wore her signature rosaries and held black roses for an added touch of Goth. As the morning after arrives, we hear that she did a surprise performance in the Great Hall of the Met, opening with Like a Prayer and changing into virginal white for her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, reestablishing her as the iconic religious sartorialist and leaving us feeling #blessed.