Variations on a Theme: Met Gala 2017

Another year at the Met Gala has come and gone, and while Anna Wintour sleeps it off I have time for a wrap-up of the 2017 festivities, as viewed from afar.

The Met Gala has become a parade of excess for the in-the-money crowd in the last decade — tickets are upward of $35,000 these days and even then, you might not make the guest list. But it might interest some to know that it’s actually a fundraiser for the Met’s Costume Institute – the only department of the museum that must fund itself. So while it can be hard to see the nonprofit through the glitz, this is in fact a great example of fashion-for-good.

There’s always a theme, and this year’s was Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, with a focus on the specific fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, who has a label by the same name.

I always go into the Met Gala’s post-party coverage with my own ideas about what the annual theme does or should mean. It’s rarely the same interpretation of many in attendance… I was excited about last year’s technology theme, for instance, then disappointed to see a lot of Terminator Arms and stupid silver contacts.

So this year, about to scroll through dozens of red carpet photos, I was thinking men’s wear. Androgynous looks. Maybe skirts paired with tuxedo jackets, or cummerbunds as bandeau tops.

Instead, let’s talk about Solange in a sleeping bag by Thom Browne. Katy Perry channeling The Handmaid’s Tale in Maison Margiela by John Galliano, and the fact that JLo is clearly going through a late-seventies-soul-singer phase.

Truly, JLo’s biggest offense here — and that of many — is the look is so boring. The Met Gala isn’t a prom; it’s a showcase of fashion-as-art. Trying to fit the theme and failing is one thing, but avoiding it completely as someone more dedicated — let’s call her Rihanna — sashays by wearing what essentially amounts to rings of confetti is a great way to disappear into the crowd.

Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady were all sorts of yawn this year in matching metallic gray. Hailey Baldwin (daughter of Stephen) looked like she was about to walk down the aisle, and speaking of proms, where are the garter belts, ladies:

And yet, even with SJP’s notable absence this year, there were a few intrepid guests who hit the mark. I already called out RiRi, wearing the designer-of-honor. Tracee Ellis Ross also wore Rei Kawakubo — and quite possibly wore it best.

Riley Keough (Elvis’ grand-kid) also hit the theme well in Louis Vuitton, Priyanka Chopra rocked a tricked-out trench by Ralph Lauren, and Emmy Rossum wore the best men’s wear look of the evening in Carolina Herrera.

Wintour, who has chaired the Met Gala since the mid-nineties, hasn’t shown any signs of stepping aside any time soon, so she better start mulling the theme for 2018. In the meantime, the hoi polloi can check out the Comme des Garçons exhibit May 4 to September 4 this year. She may have hiked the gala ticket prices, but Met Fifth Avenue is still about $25 to visit.

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