Fashion / Style

Met Gala’s Best and Worst Dressed — Rihanna as the Pope, a Simple Kim Kardashian & a Wonder Woman Throwback

Wild Heavenly Gala Sees Chadwick Boseman Rule the Men

BY // 05.08.18

Watching the arrivals on the red carpet at the Met Gala Monday night, one couldn’t help but wonder, how would most of the female guests sit down once they got into the party? Just about every big name celebrity’s gown featured a train about the size of a basketball court while Katy Perry‘s gold minidress was adorned with feathery angel wings with a wingspan of a condor.

Part of the fun of viewing the proceedings, which actually took place on a beige carpet with red accents leading into New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, was counting the number of times a team of “fluffers” scurried around to smooth out the billowing fabric on the various gowns after guests like Blake Lively, in a ruby red regal Versace gown, exited oversized party buses, which apparently were rented for the night because stretch limousines were too small to accommodate all the glittery clothing, and tentatively made their way up the stairs.

Held on the first Monday in May, the gala has become fashion’s biggest — and most outrageous — night, with creations that make Oscar gowns look downright boring. Each year, the gala is tied in with the theme of a major fashion exhibition at the museum, and this year’s choice — “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” — was particularly intriguing.

The exhibition, which includes such jaw-dropping contributions from the Vatican as Pope John Paul II’s red leather Prada shoes and a papal tiara with 19,000 diamonds and other gems, examines how the Catholic Church has inspired designers over the years. Gala guests were asked to dress in their “Sunday Best,” and curator Andrew Bolton admitted to Women’s Wear Daily that he was wary of how the edgy celebrities would interpret the theme and hoped they would be a little more modest than usual.

In a bit of surprise, they were.

Nicki Minaj, in an Oscar de la Renta custom liquid degrade red sequin gown with a long, multi-layered hand dip dyed tulle coat and jeweled headdress with dangling crosses, was the most covered-up that I can recall. It was among her best gala looks ever. Kim Kardashian shimmered in a simple — for her — gold Versace gown embedded with embroidered jeweled crosses. And Madonna was swathed in a long-sleeve, high neck black gown by Jean Paul Gaultier, although in a nod to her contentious history with the Catholic Church, she accessorized the outfit with a crucifix-dotted crown, cross necklaces, and a net veil.

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(Longtime fans of the singer can recall that the video for her 1989 hit, “Like A Prayer,” was condemned by the Vatican and she canceled a Rome performance on the 1990 Blonde Ambition Tour after Pope John-Paul II called for a ban.)

Rihanna, who co-chaired the gala with Donatella Versace and Amal Clooney, looked ready to be the first female pope in a beaded bustier mini dress under a sculpted jacket and skirt created by John Galliano, with a matching papal hat by Stephen Jones. The ensemble, which took 250 hours to sew and 500 hours to hand embroider by Maison Margiela Atelier in Paris, has been affectionately referred to as “Pope couture.”

While there were fewer plunging necklines than at most Hollywood-style galas, there was still more than a hint of skin with gowns featuring above-the-thigh slits and a number of mini-dresses. Donatella Versace was among those taking the high road in a gold and navy embroidered minidress with a dramatic navy blue train, accessorized with jeweled knee-high boots that matched her dress.

In keeping with the theme, crowns, veils, mantillas, and various headdresses were also in abundance and worn with various degrees of success. Kate Bosworth looked lovely in an embroidered crystal star and teardrop mother-of-pearl headpiece that complemented her Oscar de la Renta custom crinkled gold foil-painted spiral draped tulle gown while the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, rocked a gold crown that seemed totally appropriate for the occasion with a blue Zac Posen gown and matching jacket.

Met Gala Hits and Misses

Solange, who is always fashion forward, paid homage to the Black Madonna with a braided gold halo over a black durag. She paired the headdress with a futuristic black latex dress designed by Iris van Herpen, with above-the-thigh latex boots. SZA looked like an angel in a celestial headpiece and pink Versace gown.

But Sarah Jessica Parker, in a gilded gold Dolce & Gabbana gown with red heart accents and gigantic train, looked like she had an Excedrin headache in a pagoda-like headdress featuring a Nativity scene. And Mindy Kaling, in an oversized gold crown with blue gems by Greek jewelry designer Pericles Kondylatos, recalled images of the classic Imperial margarine commercial in which a crown pops on the head of a person who sampled the product.

Also trying a little too hard were Perry, whose angel wings were a bit too literal for the occasion and seemed more in the spirit of the attention-getting swan dress that Bjork wore to the 2001 Oscars.

One of the night’s biggest fashion winners among the women was Jennifer Lopez in a bejeweled Balmain dress with a large blue and red cross on the bodice and a feathered black train. Sporting a short hair cut, she and boyfriend Alex Rodriguez seemed to be having a swell time on the red carpet.

Sartorially speaking, the men weren’t nearly as adventuresome as the women. But Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman got into the spirit of the occasion with a show-stopping Versace ensemble featuring an ivory suit with gold embroidery and cape embellished with gold crosses and other adornments. And Jared Leto did his best Jesus imitation in a blue Gucci suit with wide black lapels, embroidered prayer shawl and gold crown adorning his shoulder length hair.

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