Friday, May 5, 2017

The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Weird: 2017 Met Gala Red Carpet Review

The Annual Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, more commonly referred to as simply "the Met Gala", is always an...um...interesting red carpet event. It is definitely a place where designers and celebrities alike attempt to out-avant garde each other. In other words, the outfits can get extremely weird. And the 2017 Met Gala was no exception. There were some lovely looks. There were some less-than-successful looks. And there were some truly bizarre trainwrecks. Let's look at a few of them, shall we?

Cara Delevingne's silver and black pantsuit was one of the more successful weird looks. The flower pattern of the fabric was beautiful, and the tailoring of the slim but not skin-tight pants and the high-waisted, square-shouldered, silver-belted jacket/top was impeccable, crisp, and flattering. Even the silver, slicked down hair and severe, monochromatic makeup worked for me. This is the type of weirdness that I like to see at this kind of event.
Celine Dion, on the other hand, showed us the less successful side of weird. The concept wasn't bad, with a full, poufed and draped black skirt and beautifully pleated and swirled bodice accented with metallic gold strips - but then it appears to be worn over a gray terrycloth t-shirt with unhemmed sleeves. Wait, what? It's like she had this fabulous dress but then decided it was too revealing so she grabbed some random thing from her closet to wear underneath it. And the look was not helped by the Sharpie eyeliner and spiky sculpted hairdo (or maybe fascinator). Nope.

Chrissy Teigen took a glamorous look and edged it over to funkiness. The silhouette of the gown was very traditional, but it paired a sheer black sheath with silver lace and fluffy white feather shoulder and wrist accents, which were both repeated at the hem of the gown. The high neck was a fun contrast to the peekaboo effect and miles of visible legs. And having John Legend on her arm was a pretty nice accessory, too.
Hailee Steinfeld often takes risks on the red carpet, and usually they pay off, but not this time. This strangely-proportioned dress made it look like she was wearing a man's military jacket backwards and falling off her shoulders. The empire peplum was too high, the sleeves were too long, the train was stiff and oddly shaped, and the clunky platform boots were just plain ugly.

Halle Berry, on the other hand, channeled a beautiful black-and-gold peacock in this simple silhouette gown. The back and train were decorated with increasingly large curved pieces that created a feather-like effect that was also a bit reminiscent of vinyl records. I loved her hairstyle, pulled back into a low chignon held in place by a subtle gold band. Elegant and eye-catching.

Trainwreck time! I'm not exactly sure what Helen Lasichanh  was wearing, but it wasn't clothes. It reminded me of those inflatable sumo wrestler costumes. Maybe she's always cold and wanted to be able to put her hands in her pockets inside her outfit? Maybe she's always had a thing for Gumby and Poky so she decided to combine their looks? Maybe she lost 200 pounds since her outfit was designed? Whatever the reason, it wasn't a good enough one to justify appearing in public wearing this crazy getup.

Janelle Monae went back to her trademark black and white look for the Met Gala, and surprisingly, her look was rather restrained (for her, anyway). I really liked her fluffy tiered white skirt and the black detailing on the bodice. The black feather collar was just weird enough to give it a funky look without completely going off the rails, so I'm calling this one a win.

Jennifer Lopez wore a surprisingly demure - and somewhat bland - ice blue cascading chiffon gown. Pretty but forgettable.

I loved Jourdan Dunn's funky geometric deconstructed men's suit. The shirt was a wild riff on a man's white dress shirt, with oversized loose cuffs, and a collar creating an angular line at the top of the bodice, and the skirt was made of diagonal panels that appeared to be strips of a pin-striped suit. The tangled train even had pieces of fabric tied like neckties. It was clever, it was unique, it was flattering. A+ from this reviewer.

Julia Carey's glittery gold gown featured some lovely red and blue embroidery on the bodice, but was generally quite tame by Met Gala standards. Extra points for the cute red clutch, though.


It's not easy to tell, but that's Katy Perry underneath that voluminous, Eastern-inspired gown. It felt to me like it included elements of traditional Mongolian, Indian, and Middle Eastern clothing. The intricate beading was exquisite, and the double train of the gown and the headpiece made a gorgeous line. This look falls in the "weird but very beautiful" category for me, which is exactly what I like to see at this kind of event.

Kerry Washington's dress had a bit of a "country quilt" look to it at first glance, but details like the small cutouts, thigh-high slit, varied fabric textures, severe bowl cut hairdo, and diamond choker brought the overall look up a level. It took a bit of time to grow on me, but grow on me it did.

Lena Dunham makes many fashion missteps in my opinion, but this event is just perfect for her off-kilter style and non-model figure. Her tiered red-and-black-checked ballgown skirt was topped with a one-shouldered black bodice crossed with a huge ruffled sash from shoulder to waist, somewhat evocative of a Scottish tartan. It would have overwhelmed a more petite person, but Dunham carried it off beautifully. And I love that she reversed her more usual "foofy dress with minimal hair and makeup" to be a somewhat less frothy gown paired with lovely, feminine makeup and a really pretty updo. She really kills it with this look.

Lily Collins brought to mind a combination of Leslie Caron and Isabella Rossellini with her stark black pageboy with babydoll bangs, dark makeup, and frothy pink tulle ballgown skirt over a simple black bodice with a sweetheart neckline. The silhouette is striking, the color combination is terrific, and she pulls off this daring look amazingly well.

Madonna, on the other hand, fell flat in her satin camouflage sheath with olive drab boa and elbow-length black leather gloves. And I don't know what's going on with the hodge podge of necklaces around her neck and hanging from her belt, not to mention the weird grille she's been sporting lately. Oh, Madge. I never thought I'd be looking back fondly on the funnel-bra look.

Mandy Moore was strikingly out of character in this sleek black single-sleeved gown that flared slightly at the knee. She paired it with slicked-back hair, pink-toned makeup, and a single long glove. She looked as elegant and killer as Morticia Addams (and that is absolutely meant as a compliment).

Mary J. Blige opted for a semi-sheer black corset top that cascaded into a slim skirt that revealed plenty of leg. I loved the lace trim along the slit of the skirt and along the waist, and her zigzag diamond cuff was fabulous, as were her long diamond earrings. It wasn't weird or crazy or daring (at least not by the standards of this crowd), but it was beautiful and unusual and well-tailored and accessorized.

Nicki Minaj loves to dress a bit crazy, so this look wasn't entirely out of character for her. I loved the lines of her black and red...I'm not even sure what to call it. It wasn't not so much a gown as it was a short jumper with a double cape. But I loved the way the fabric came over her shoulders and tucked into the bodice, I loved the frothiness of the black underlining of the cape and the detailing along the edges of the red cape. I even loved the three-strapped platform sandals. This was a fun, weird, wonderful look.

Priyanka Chopra could look gorgeous wearing a paper bag, so it was no surprise that she looked gorgeous wearing a beige trenchcoat with an oversized collar and a large train. But although the woman was gorgeous, the outfit was just kind of meh. Pretty silhouette, but not much else going for it in terms of color, texture, or styling.
Rihanna's outfit made me laugh out loud. It seemed to be constructed of circles of fabric cut from 1980s bridesmaid dresses (possibly some were from 1960s wallpaper) and glue-gunned together by someone's mom as part of a school art project. it even looked like part of one of the bridesmaid dress the fabric came from was attached to her left hip. The red strappy sandals that laced all the way up her legs were stunning, and I even kind of liked the brightly pink makeup and super-high topknot. But that dress was a trainwreck.

Rita Ora knocked it out of the "weird but wonderful" park in this red satin concoction that appeared to be made of wide strips of fabric tied at the shoulder and then wrapped around ora's body, criss-crossing to form a skirt, with the strips cascading down from the knee over a tan tulle underlayer and train. The silhouette was gorgeous and the construction was fascinating.

Selena Gomez wore a simple white gown with a deep vee in front and a high center slit. The gown flared into an all-around train and was embroidered with delicate flowers along the neckline and scattered over the rest of the dress. Not exactly weird, but wonderful.

The color alone of Serena Williams' voluminous gown was enough to catch anyone's eye, but the sari-like swirl of embroidery from bodice to hem created a graceful line that delicately drew attention to her burgeoning baby bump - as if her glowing smile didn't already do that.

I'm pretty sure Solange was wearing what I would have come up with had my 7-year-old asked me to make him a costume for his school play in which he was playing a sleeping bag. Seriously, she was wearing a sleeping bag, with a second sleeping bag attached to the back as a train. And bandages on both her hands. And really weird shoes. Not good weird, just weird.
And to be sure we end on a "good weird" note, Zendaya's orange and yellow ballgown was printed with poppies and parrots and had a beautifully soft long train. The off-the shoulder bodice had a real Cinderella look to it, which was a fun contrast with the wild print and her long full hair. A nice youthful twist on weird and wonderful.


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