From Nicole Kidman and Glen Close to Viola Davis, Our Top Fashion Picks for Met Gala 2023
Viola Davis attends the 2023 Met Gala celebrating 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty' at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 1, 2023. Photo: Cindy Ord/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Despite the fact it is the single most exclusive event on the fashion calendar, in an industry that is built around the thin and the young, the Met Gala was surprisingly egalitarian, age wise at least, this year. The theme was Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, in tribute to the incredibly prolific icon who died at age 85 in 2019.
The first wow moment of the night was at the very beginning, when Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, 73, arrived with a fabulous accessory on her arm: her beau, actor Bill Nighy, also 73. There have been rumours the pair, who are both British, have been dating for some time since Wintour was spotted dining alfresco with Nighy in Italy and she appeared at the launch of his recent film, Living. But this was a splashy moment, and this pair in their 70s were matched in power couple wattage only by Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, who arrived customarily last on the white carpet.
It was Wintour’s decree that this tribute should happen: she was a good friend of Lagerfeld’s (and almost always wears the label to her signature events). That everyone who is anyone would show up to celebrate the life and work of Lagerfeld was not a given. The designer made many problematic remarks over the years, expressing fat-phobic sentiments, dismissing the #MeToo movement and making unacceptable Holocaust comparisons. His legacy raises the age-old question of how, and whether, to separate the man from his art.
And yet, he was also the hardest-working person in fashion. He produced 14 collections a year right up until the end. It is hard to explain just how vast that output is, and his work — a magical blend of haute couture, technical artistry and zeitgeist-nailing pop cultural relevance — never missed the mark. He designed Fendi for 50 years, and Chanel for 30, taking the latter label from a place of financial insecurity in 1983 to one of the world’s top luxury powerhouses. He also produced his own namesake line. Other labels he previously designed for include Chloe, Balmain and Patou.
Thus there was much for gala attendees and their designer hosts to riff on (labels buy tables, and invite celebrities to sit at them and to dress; all the matchmaking is done by Wintour, who controls the guest list).
The dress code is to interpret the theme each year, this year meaning to somehow pay tribute to an aspect of Karl’s legacy. That meant there was some spectacular vintage Chanel pulled out from the archives, plus vintage Fendi and Chloe. There were some direct role playing: Ke Huy Quan dressed as Lagerfeld himself: sharp collar, skinny black suit and tie, sunglasses. Jessica Chastain wore Lagerfeld’s signature shades all night, along with surprise blond hair. Jared Leto donned a giant fluffy cat costume, coming as Choupette, Karl’s beloved cat who reportedly inherited about $2 million from Lagerfeld’s estate. Choupette, herself a supermodel, is thought to be the most photographed feline in the world, with more than 200,000 photos of her. Doja Cat transformed into a couture kitty, complete with cat-faced prosthetics.
But the vast majority of the crowd went for low-key elegance, which is the true Lagerfeld legacy. Contemporary designers riffed on many of the themes and details Lagerfeld was most famous for, including his signature strict high-collared black and white, and dramatic gloves. And then, as a tribute to Chanel, a lot of tweed, many, many bows from head to toe, a field of camellias (Chanel’s signature flower), as well as chokers as decoration on sheer bodices, feathers, dramatic gloves, oceans of pearls and piping and exaggerated collars.
After several years of celebrities trying to take things more and more outrageous, the Met Gala was becoming a bit of a fashion circus. This theme, and of course its accompanying exhibit, served its higher purpose: to bring elegance back into vogue.
Here is a quick look at some of our favourite outfits from the evening. It was often the fashion veterans, where age brings poise and gravitas, who shone the most last evening.
This was the ultimate vintage moment of the night. You could hear the gasps through the TV screen when Kidman, 55, arrived on the Met Gala carpet in the very same frothy pink feathered haute couture dress with extravagant train she wore in her 2004 Chanel No. 5 commercial. It looked equally captivating — and a totally timeless fantasy — nearly two decades later.
Her husband may own Kering, but it is Hayek who knows how to make a celebrity entrance. The actress and producer, 56, chose a scarlet strapless gown from Gucci, the prize of the conglomerates’ stables. The bustier was glossy red, the skirt light and voluminous, with pearls, a motif of the night, scalloped down her arms like sleeves.
One of the evening’s co-hosts, Cruz, 49, went in mint green Chanel vintage. The delicate sequin, pearl and gem-encrusted dress, with an organza hood that resembled a mantilla, on brand for the Spanish actress. The look was inspired by a 1998 Chanel haute couture gown.
The designers are usually in the background to the celebrities. And Prada herself really just whisked through the frame, not stopping to pose. But her outfit just blew us away. The 73-year-old designer wore lime satin cropped pants with lime pumps and a lemon yellow tunic draped in oversized beads. It was jaw-droppingly chic, and somehow cut through all the noise with its simple, elegant statement.
Looking perfectly ageless with her long, straight, centre-parted hair framing a Grecian wrap-style gown, Campbell, 52, made the SS10 Chanel haute couture piece she was wearing look like it was on a runway today.
Kate Moss (and Lila Grace Moss Hack)
The supermodel worked with Lagerfeld since she was a teen. She showed up last night with her own daughter, Lila Grace, a next generation modeling star. The pair were dressed by Kim Jones, the designer who took over at Fendi after Lagerfeld’s death. Mom, 49, wore a new design by Jones, a lingerie-inspired piece that riffed on Lagerfeld’s designs from the ’90s; daughter wore vintage Fendi.
Pink was an interesting choice for Davis, 57. Not that the feather-fronted Valentino in that label’s signature fuchsia wasn’t spectacular on her. It’s more that Lagerfeld was known to eschew that colour, especially in its vibrant ranges. However, it was a clever commentary on Chanel’s Métiers d’art with its embroidery and feathers.
Erdem designed the spectacular silver dress and capacious tiered cape with a long train worn by Close, 76. The designer added stacked jewels (a Lagerfeld trick) and a sharp shirt collar in tribute to the honouree. Close called the outfit “elegance personified” and we heartily agree.
The Talking Heads singer arrived on his signature accessory, his bike. He re-wore the same white custom suit he had made for this year’s Oscars, by Brooklyn tailor Martin Greenfield Clothiers. Once known for his wildly oversized suiting, Byrne has taken to sleeker tailoring now he is 70, but it was no less of a standout.
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