So last night, after returning from grocery shopping for Friday’s launch party (more on this later!), I watched the Met’s Costume Institute Gala red carpet.
This is probably my favorite gown-y event of the year, mostly because I’ve worked it twice, so I get to look at pictures and smile, knowing that for every celebrity posing smoothly on the red carpet there are two people running flat-out through the Temple of Dendur screaming “I NEED THAT FOLIAGE” into a walkie-talkie.
This year is an especially good year for the Gala, because it’s celebrating Alexander McQueen, a designer I admire so much I wrote an article about him for Weird Tales (more on that soon!). He was a true artist, and I looked forward to seeing how celebrities would dress to celebrate that.
Turns out they did it by wearing the dullest prom dresses they could find.
I don’t have the energy to review the whole thing (on Kerry Washington: plain, vaguely-unflattering dress. On Maggie Q: fussy, vaguely-unflattering dress. On Lea Michele: red, vaguely-unflattering dress. On Noami Watts: you get it.)
However, there are a few so great, and a few so questionable, that we should take a look at them.
Zoe Saldana and Naomi Watts model what most of the people last night wore: a perfectly nice dress that would be right at home at the SAGs or the Golden Globes or something, which most of the time is great, but for the Costume Institute Gala seems a little tame. (The year they honored Poiret everyone showed up looking like an Agatha Christie house party, which is more in the spirit of the thing.)
Emily Browning. I am not sure there is ever a place for this dress, but I am certain that the Met Gala is no such place.
I have come to really love her on the red carpet – sure, she often looks like a mess and this is no exception, but she’s so obviously hating every second of it that it’s sort of fun.
Look, Rihanna, if you don’t want to go, just don’t go, okay?
Illustrating the actresss/model dichotomy: Saoirse Ronan, in a dress that was knee-length when it came down the runway…and was not altered, somehow.
Kirsten Dunst. The thing is, I can see where this was going, but something about it (the hair? The jewelry? The length plus the straps?) makes it look like a slightly dowdy 13-year-old from 1996 designed her dream dress and someone actually made it for her.
Rosie Huntington-Whitely, auditioning for Showgirls 2: Stiletto Revenge.
Michelle Williams. You know, I give her full points for wearing something she obviously really likes. Maybe we’ll just leave it there.
Hailee Steinfeld. I wish I liked it more than I did, but at least she was going for something unusual, so we’ll just let her walk on by.
You know what scene I always really liked? At the end of a Star Wars Ep. 4, when Princess Leia awards Han and Luke those nonsense medals and she keeps giving Luke the eye because George Lucas still hadn’t decided where all that shit was going and now you watch it and laugh and laugh.
I don’t know what made me think of that, suddenly. Anyway, here’s Leelee Sobieski.
Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr. Not pictured: the little animated birds that fly over their heads at all times, ready to render service to the pure of heart.
Janelle Monae. Thank you.
JLo. Believe it or not, the only thing I dislike here is the scarf that’s choking her. The rest is delightful. If you’re not going to wear corsage epaulets at the Costume Institute Gala, you are never going to wear them.
…which is clearly what Dakota Fanning thought, except that this just makes me cringe.
Madonna going 1930s to great effect, even if her train looks like a USO show.
Look, Ginnifer Goodwin, if you don’t want to go, just don’t go, okay? (Also, are we matching our eyeshadow to our clothes, now? Is that really a thing? I’m honestly asking.)
Amy Poehler. I love everything but the hair. (Also, in my heart of hearts I hope she and Will Arnett were nice to the people who were working inside. I’m sure they were, it’s just something I hope, is all.)
Someone told Iman she could wear anything and look fantastic. Here, she tests her hypothesis.
Ashley Greene, going for most dramatic dress of the night. And she was, for a while. However, when I saw this photo the first thing I said was, “What’s that black dress behind her?” which is sort of telling. Also, we’ll get to the black dress later.
Listen, Blake Lively, I understand that Karl Lagerfeld has turned out some stunners in his day. However, when someone says, “This is the jacket I’m wearing, shall I dress you, too?”, think it over for a second, is all I’m saying.
Shalom Harlow. Thank you.
Freida Pinto, who was going for something. Sure, the tie is awful and a weird length and flimsy and wrong and the collar looks awful, but she tried something different.
Christina Hendricks. You know, I get it. I’m not sure I love it, but I get it.
Liv Tyler. As long as I’m not thinking about Arwen, I like you very much, and this dress is lovely.
However, it didn’t make my Top Five. These did!
Fifth Place: Ashley Olsen
No one is more surprised than I am.
But, if you are going to wear your Nineteen-Eighty-Three Musketeers dress with this much attitude, you may do so with my blessing.
Fourth Place: Taylor Swift
NO ONE IS MORE SURPRISED THAN I AM.
It looks like a microscope slide of some kind of lovely fungus. I’m in. (Gosh, I wish someone else had worn this.)
Third Place: Crystal Renn
Second Place: Daphne Guinness
This was probably a gimme, given that this is what Daphne Guinness Does.
However, it’s what she Does because it works, so.
First Place: Christina Ricci.
Because look at this.
LOOK AT IT. WHAT. APPROVED.