Met Gala 2018: Thou Shalt Not Offend

When I read that this year’s theme for the Met Gala was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination this was my reaction (and that of many others):

That’s to say I expected at least a few fairly controversial looks … for the most part, though, that wasn’t the case. There are always some questionable decisions being made on the Met Gala red carpet; It’s an event designed around taking fashion risks, after all, and usually the worst offenders are those who didn’t even bother to try to fit the theme.

The same was true this year, but with the added wrinkle of “wait, how does this relate to Catholicism again?” For instance, since when do floral prints equal piety? Amal Clooney in Richard Quinn and Huma Abedin in Giambattista Valli each looked amazing, but the Catholic connection of their dresses was lost on me.

That said, there were a few interpretive trends of Catholicism’s impact on fashion to be seen: Zendaya and Michelle Williams gave nods to the Crusades, Chadwick Boseman, Cassie and Diddy, and Greta Gerwig went the vestments route, and there were plenty of homages to Mary, halos, and angelic imagery.

So, with an emphasis on the great, let’s review:

Cardinal Red

Blake Lively in Versace, Jimmy Choo and Lorraine Schwartz

In Catholicism, red can represent a few things (per my research), among them The Passion, martyrdom, Pentecost, and various feasts. I don’t know if any of this was Lively’s inspiration, or if she was just like “Versace!”, but it worked.

Caped Crusader

Lena Waithe in Carolina Herrera

Capes — a decidedly Papal fashion choice, by some standards — were a big trend on the red carpet and Waithe’s wool suit with a silk rainbow cape overlay was, in my opinion, the best of the best.

Gothic Galahad

Lily Collins in Givenchy Haute Couture and Cartier jewelry; crown by Clare Waight Keller

Collins gave a nod to the darker imagery of religion in a black ensemble with make-up inspired by “stigmata and tears of virgins,” according to her stylist.

Devastating Diety

Kate Bosworth in Oscar de la Renta

Swoon – this look is so Princess Grace, and it’s on-theme in an ethereal, Spanish mantilla kind of way.

Honorable Mentions

Ariana Grande — yes on the dress, no on the bow. Keep trying though.

Saint Laurent, who dressed several gala-goers with cool, form-fitting looks. The label name seemed like the only themed aspect for most ensembles, but I was ok with it.

Museum Muse: Lessons in Design

The Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation in Pittsfield, Mass., (which I wrote about once), explores not just inventors but the way all types of new ideas are born.

It changes its exhibits now and then to showcase new ideas and disciplines, and currently, it’s focused on design in all its forms — from graphic to interior to industrial. Regardless of what type of design you employ in your life, though, there are some lessons with legs to be had in this exhibit — here are a few I picked out.

Preparing to Design – Are you in the Zone?

“Being in the zone is a state of perfect balance between relaxed and focused, allowing you to operate at peak performance.”

I’m over-generalizing here but the basic message of this pod is relax. Using Mindball as a tool to illustrate how, ironically, creativity is boosted when cognitive activity is reduced, we learned how to get “unstuck” by decluttering our minds.

Playing with the Design – Flexible Rules

While the topographical sandbox is not a formal part of the innovation exhibit, it is a great place to start. As the landscape changes, so do the colors; plains turn green, ponds and rivers blue, and mountains a deep burgundy. It’s a great way to play with design within a framework… those hills will always be red, but can be turned into a nearly-purple lake with the swipe of a hand.

Troubleshooting the Design – Tight Lips Sink Ships

“Sometimes the maker finds issues the designer missed.”

This should be an intrinsic part of the design process, but too often, it’s not. Especially when the ‘maker’ is too head-strong to listen to the designer. That’s when ad campaigns go south, packaging falls apart, and Titanic-sized ships sink.

Revising the Design – Coulda, Shoulda

“Sketch the ways you might improve these designs to make the user more likely to adopt their intended function.”

This part of the show included a Flowbee, a book about crafting with cat hair, and a talking toilet-paper dispenser, among other sundries. We were tasked with improving on the design — either the product tiled or its packaging — to make it more palatable to the buying public. It was a great exercise, but I’m still not sure how we improve on cat-hair finger puppets.

I really like 16 albums from 1988, for some reason

In their ongoing series of celebrating the world’s favorite media as it turns 30, my friends over at Geek Salad Radio are tackling the music of 1988 this month.

They’re collecting personal Top Five lists to construct their final run-down for an upcoming ‘cast, so I went Inter-searching to put together my own list. I found my top five, but started with a longer list and whittled down, after a fairly exhaustive search*. That said, the uncut version adds up to the awkward total of 16, but there you go. It certainly isn’t the only thing awkward about 1988.

1

Delicate Sound of Thunder

Pink Floyd

For a band known for its live performances, it might be surprising to some that Delicate Sound of Thunder was Pink Floyd’s first live album release. It was recorded over five nights, ’embellished’ in the studio post-performance (i.e. new guitar solos and sound effects), and reached number 11 on the U.S. Billboard chart. When I owned it in physical form, it was a double cassette set, and therefore a prized possession.

2

Rattle and Hum

U2

Fun Fact: the album peaked at 172 on the Billboard 200, and that was in 2014. Another live/studio hybrid, Rattle and Hum was released as both a record and a documentary in 1988 — one could say that started a trend — so it’s technically a soundtrack. A lot of critics hated it, but it includes, arguably, some of U2’s best tracks — Desire, All I Want is You, and Angel of Harlem among them. Ironically, many R n H tracks reached more ears in the nineties and later than in ’88, after the band had taken a ‘new direction.’

3

Starfish

The Church

Reaching 41 on the U.S. Billboard 200, this was Australia-based The Church’s biggest commercial success in any country, featuring one of my all-time favorite songs, Under the Milky Way. It’s poppy and melancholy at the same time, kind of like me.

4

Watermark

Enya

I’d say this was my entree into ambient music, but my parents were really into Vangelis when I was a kid, so I’ll say this was the first ambient music I liked. The album is also a big part of the soundtrack to the film L.A. Story, starring Steve Martin, released in 1991.

5

She’s Having a Baby Soundtrack

Various

I’ve had this album in rotation pretty much since 1988; it’s a great mix of alternative and new wave with a decidedly British bent, including Kirsty MacColl, Gene Loves Jezebel, and Bryan Ferry.


6 The Raw and the Cooked, Fine Young Cannibals

7 Vivid, Living Colour

8 Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians

9 Beetlejuice Soundtrack, Danny Elfman/Harry Belefonte

10 Roll With It, Steve Winwood

11 The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, The Traveling Wilburys

12 Short Sharp Shocked, Michelle Shocked

13 Slow Turning, John Hiatt

14 Folkways, Various

15 See the Light, The Jeff Healey Band

16 Never Die Young, James Taylor

* – It’s tough to find a complete list of all ’88 albums out there. Thanks to some of my resources who did the work already, including Rate Your Music and the awesomely named Slicing Up Eyeballs.

But wait, there’s more! The Spotify List:

Oscars Fashion 2018: Jennifer Garner and everyone else

The biggest Red Carpet event of the year (arguably) brings me great, escapist joy. I do, in fact, care ‘what you’re wearing,’ and more importantly, who created it.

Happily, this was a very colorful Oscars in terms of fashion, giving us a lot to review. So let’s.

First, let me say this: I generally look at the dress, the accessories, the shoes, etc., an attendee is wearing as a fashion package, displaying the work of creative professionals. It’s about ‘who’s wearing who’ too a little, of course, but I tend to look at the clothes as art, not the clothed as hot-or-not.

It was hard to not just basically gasp in Jennifer Garner’s general direction this year, though. Woman slayed in every way in Atelier Versace, jewels by Piaget, shoes by Versace, flawless makeup, and oh-that-hair. Stop it.

I don’t know if Emma Stone was particularly comfortable at the Oscars, but she looked it – as well as polished, vibrant, and age-appropriate (Emily Blunt, take note) in Louis Vuitton.

Paz Vega may have brought some well-deserved western attention to eastern designer Christopher Bu. This is Met Gala Amazing.

A lot of people tried the gauzy, opaque look on the carpet this year, but only a few got it right. Leslie Bibb was the standard to meet in J. Mendel couture, with (Bachelor alert!) Neil Lane jewelry.

Points for flapper chic go to Gal Gadot – who also, incidentally, is rocking the still-hot warm metals trend in Givenchy.

What say you, fellow couch critics? Leave your faves in the comments!