It’s the first Monday in May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which can only mean one thing: the ultra-exclusive $25,000-a-ticket Costume Institute Gala. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it is otherwise known as “The Met Gala”. And you’ve definitely heard of that, since it’s New York’s most spectacular fundraising event on America’s fashion calendar. Here, the biggest faces in fashion, film, music and art get to show off their most extravagant and imaginative outfits. Indeed, OTT (over the top) is the unwritten dress code. As always, the theme for 2018 took its cue from the museum’s latest exhibition: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination—and boy, did they take it stratospheric!
US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, chair since 1995, had invited Amal Clooney, Rihanna and Donatella Versace to be her co-chairs for the 70th anniversary year. So it’s no surprise that many opted to dress themselves in one of the latter’s gorgeous creations. Irina Shayk and Katy Perry were the night’s golden girls in custom Atelier Versace. Shayk’s gold silk gown displayed a side slit cut as high as its décolletage was low, and was fully encrusted with golden Swarovski crystals. Opulent trains always get the cameras flashing, and her shimmering ruffled skirt with maxi train was no exception. Katy Perry made her entrance in something a little shorter but no less glam: a gleaming, gold chainmail mini-dress featuring an antique bronze netted overlay enriched with crystals. And those incredible feathered wings—angelic! Gigi Hadid looked flawless, naturally, in her custom stained glass-inspired Atelier Versace asymmetric gown. Look closely, and you can see that the sheer tulle is covered in thousands of micro-crystals, while the train’s volume adds serious drama. Channelling Saint Joan of Arc, Zendaya’s Atelier Versace gunmetal chainmail outfit had been custom-molded to her body and lavishly studded with crystals. A fully beaded silk chiffon skirt made a wonderfully feminine contrast to the armored neck-and-shoulder piece.
Among the male Atelier Versace fans were The Migos, looking fresh in coordinating tuxes printed with iconic Versace symbols. Entirely encrusted with Swarovski crystals, these famous prints were really brought to life. 2 Chainz was another of the gentlemen guests aiming not to be outdone by the ladies. His custom tux featured fashionable peaked lapels and Swarovski-embroidered Versace lettering. Tom Brady, meanwhile, sported a more subdued Atelier Versace tux; it gave a nod to the fashion house’s signature glamour with baroque embellishments on the lapels and a Swarovski accent down the leg.
One of the biggest hits of the night was Talita von Furstenberg in one of her grandmother Diane von Furstenberg’s creations. It was a version of the famous Furstenberg wrap-dress, dialed up to make it fit for a princess. Handmade at the DVF Atelier in downtown NYC, the frothy sky-blue concoction took six craftswomen two days to apply nearly 50,000 Swarovski crystals. The process involved meticulously laying out each crystal onto a transparent sheet, then heat pressing them inch-by-inch over the hundreds of yards of tulle.
In keeping with the religious theme, one of the event’s must-have accessories was the halo headpiece. Rita Ora’s was among the most beautiful: a spiky black creation custom-made with flowers and Swarovski crystals. Solange Knowles, meanwhile, chose to frame her face with an icon-like golden halo, in dramatic contrast to her glistening black sculptural dress; a custom Brother Vellies fishnet bag adorned with crystals from Swarovski was the finishing touch.
Rosie Huntington-Whitely chose an elegantly simple gold-hued halo. Topping off a flowing Ralph Lauren ivory gown and matching cape that glittered with thousands of multi-colored crystals, the whole effect was heavenly. Another unique showstopper from Ralph Lauren that racked up the hours was Priyanka Chopra’s ornate golden hood. It took over 250 hours to hand bead using thousands of golden stones and artful flashes of red Swarovski crystals.
Meanwhile, Kate Upton was the lady who was lucky enough to have an exclusive version of the Clarita shoe made for her by Alexandre Birman. He recreated his signature style in velvet with hints of gold piping around the edges and the bow, and then bejeweled the open toe with a rainbow of crystals.
It took years before Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Andrew Boulton managed to get the Vatican to give its blessing to putting on the Catholicism-themed exhibition; this made it all the more gratifying to see it interpreted with outfits that seemed divinely inspired. Let us give thanks for the most extraordinary Met Gala show of all time!