I never usually miss an opportunity to comment on the annual Met Gala ball in New York with US Vogue editor Anna Wintour as ringmaster. I am sure the guests had a horrible sinking feeling on learning that the exhibition being celebrated was Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons label and the dress code avant garde. Not that Rihanna, Madonna, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga usually need any encouragement to commission a get-up that would have ordinary citizens of Manhattan arrested for gross indecency.
It has taken a week to absorb the crimes of fashion that were committed on the red carpet leading to the Metropolitan Museum and after much chloroform and days in darkened rooms I can give voice. Was I the only one to sink to my knees and ululate for the death of the fashion industry as we know it? Had I been in New York, I would have been knitting on Fifth Avenue like Madame Defarge beneath the guillotine at the sights that I can’t unsee.
Madonna is usually the bellwether of just how dark a turn fashion would take at the Met Gala and she didn’t disappoint this year. Picture a floor-length gown made out of camouflage with a train of webbing that you’d find draped over a British army tent in Kandahar and you’re half way there to the full horror. It was Madonna circa American Life by way of Dad’s Army.
I tell you darling, they came thick and fast after that monstrosity with variations on the avant garde theme that had you questioning the sanity of the organising committee. Katy Perry’s blood red floor-length offering designed by Galliano for Maison Margiela had me wondering whether she hadn’t mistaken the theme for sacrificial offering at the altar of a camp religious cult. Who was her plus one? Aleister Crowley?
We have clearly regressed from the era when Jeanne Lanvin or Madame Vionnet knew how to bias cut satin gowns with manageable trains. A lady called Gigi Hadid wore a nude Tommy Hilfiger dress with a half-train lashed to half a long-sleeve mini dress cut in geometric chunks of bandage-pink fabric. Poor dear Priyanka Chopra wore a super-sized mac cut by Ralph Lauren with a tarpaulin train the length of Fifth Avenue. The upturned collar framed a décolletage that Dolly Parton would have been proud of and she finished the ensemble with ankle length, high heeled boots. It was Pat Butcher meets Cynthia Payne.
I do get Jenners and Hadids mixed-up, don’t you? They’re all dangerously close to crossing the ‘fire the stylist’ line. Bella Hadid wore a black Alexander Wang jumpsuit to the ball. The neckline was pretty but the rest look awfully itchy. Some chafing will occur! I bet she couldn’t wait to change for the after party. Kendall Jenner wore a black garment made by underwear brand La Perla with an interesting cutout from collarbone to belly button. It was fraught with dire consequences.
Whenever I see the Olsen twins I always want to order them a cheeseburger. Still, should The Woman in White ever be remade as a movie they’d make marvellous distressed wraiths. I always consider their style to be granny’s haberdashery box. If it’s in it, it’s on em. Poor Hilary Baldwin in tiered Carolina Herrera looked like a toilet dolly with plastic boobs supplied by Mattel.
Don’t you find that Rita Ora is missing an H at the beginning of her surname? For this year’s Met Gala Rita went the full Gypsy Rose Lee in red satin bows surrounding an hourglass stripper dress that would make a hooker blush. Jennifer Lopez’s stylist must have had notes that read ‘Margot Ledbetter raises her game to Valentino couture’. A sky blue kaftan with train? Really? Really?
Who else distinguished themselves on avant garde night? Comedienne Amy Schumer looked like a Barnsley barmaid in what appeared to be a black leather hourglass gown that pushed her boobs roughly above her earlobes. Nicky Minaj wore H&M. It was red and black and revealing. Comes a time in every Salome’s career when she cannot afford to drop the seventh veil.
The number of children of the famous be they Jackson, Ritchie, Stallone or Osborne was quite striking this year proving the hereditary fame theory that might conceivably cause the death of celebrity sooner rather than later. How depressing to hear that Beckhams and Smiths (as in Will) and the like allow their kids to enter the shark pool at such a young age.
You know it is a state of fashion emergency when one of the most tasteful frocks off the block was designed by Stella McCartney: the patron saint of hereditary celebrity. I thought she did a good job with a silver backless mermaid dress modelled by Gisele Bundchen. Then again, you could put Gisele in a Primark carrier bagged she’d look sensational. My favourite dress of the evening was Gwyneth Paltrow’s minimal pink Calvin Klein. It couldn’t have been less avant garde if it was labelled Jaeger but gosh it was pretty.
The worst excesses of women’s fashion did of course allow the men to shine. The dreamy Alexander Skarsgard looked edible in a white Zegna DJ with a sapphire and diamond Cartier pin on the lapel. Ansel Elgort wore a sharp one-button Tom Ford ivory DJ with silk facings that pleased the eye. Even Rami Malek’s red Dior Homme suit wiped the floor with Miss Hora.
The lesson to learn from the Met Gala was never, ever encourage show-offs to be avant garde. The train wreck that ensues might bring down the fashion system entirely.