The Met Gala is one of the undisputed highlights of the fashion calendar, when designers, models, celebrities and editors come out to celebrate in style. We take a look at what we can expect from fashion’s biggest night out and reflect on some of New York’s most memorable red carpet moments.
By Natalie Trevis
Each year the great and the good of the fashion industry convene at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for its annual fundraiser and the opening of its fashion exhibition. The home of no-holds-barred red carpet dressing, this is when fashion’s royalty comes out to shine. Prepare for the continuation of this season’s love affair with orientalism as the theme of the exhibition this year is China: Through The Looking Glass.
Andrew Bolton, Curator of the Costume Institute, leads the exhibition, while legendary Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kaw-wai (In The Mood for Love) acts as art director and Hong Kong fashion tycoon Silas Chou hosts the gala (alongside Jennifer Lawrence and acclaimed Chinese actress Gong Li of Raise the Red Lantern and Memoirs of a Geisha). The exhibition will feature more than one hundred examples of couture and avant-garde pieces inspired by China. It will examine how Western culture has celebrated but also at times misunderstood (and perhaps misrepresented) Chinese culture over the years, as designers view China through a cinematic lens. As John Galliano tells Andrew Bolton in a fascinating interview in the exhibition’s catalogue, ‘yes, my initial interest in China was fueled by movies, by their fantasised and romanticised portrayals.’ Galliano’s spring/summer 2003 haute couture collection for Dior, an explosion of colour, voluminous fabric and theatrics, is just one of several hypnotic occasions where the designer was inspired by the beauty of China.
The challenge will be for today’s designers to interpret the theme in a way that honours traditional Chinese motifs. A modern reworking of the qipao or cheongsam is no doubt going to be a starting point for many. Sino-centric notes have consistently inspired on the runway, with designers from Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton to Roberto Cavalli and Valentino taking a peek through the looking glass themselves in recent years.
Meanwhile, in celebration of the riot of fashion that is the Met Gala, and in anticipation of the delights to come on 4 May, we take a look back at some of the best red carpet moments from the event.