If ever there were an Oscars of Fashion, the annual Met Gala would certainly be it! Always held on the 2nd Monday in May, last night was the night!
When the ball first began in 1948, it was a midnight supper in December at which society ladies paid $50 to wear Costume Institute gowns. As with many aspects of the modern fashion industry, it didn’t turn into the amazing event that it is until Anna Wintour got involved in 1995. Anna Wintour oversees both the benefit committee and the guest list. Ms. Wintour has turned the Gala into a major, major fundraising event (last year the party raised $9 million, a fabulous Silver Lining, especially in this economy!).
For the first time in it’s history, this year both Vogue and The Metropolitan Museum of Art did a live stream of the red carpet arrivals. Having attended the event 2 years ago (a total goosebump-inducing experience if ever there were one!), I’d have to say that no amount of video or photography can capture how outrageously glamorous and fun it is!
This year the Met Gala launches the “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” exhibit. When you go to the highly anticipated exhibition (and I hope that you do indeed go!), you will find that it is divided into seven thematic galleries:
- “Waist Up/Waist Down”, exhibits Schiaparelli’s use of decorative detailing as a response to restaurant dressing in the heyday of 1930s café society, while showing Prada’s below-the-waist focus as a symbolic expression of modernity and femininity. An accessories subsection of this gallery called “Neck Up/Knees Down” will showcase Schiaparelli’s hats and Prada’s footwear.
- “Ugly Chic” will reveal how both women subvert ideals of beauty and glamour by playing with good and bad taste through color, prints, and textiles.
- “Hard Chic” will explore the influence of uniforms and menswear to promote a minimal aesthetic that is intended to both deny and enhance femininity.
- “Naïf Chic” will focus on Schiaparelli and Prada’s adoption of a girlish sensibility to subvert expectations of age-appropriate dressing.
- “The Classical Body,” which also incorporates “The Pagan Body,” explores the designers’ engagement with antiquity through the gaze of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
- “The Exotic Body” will explore the influence of Eastern cultures through fabrics, such as lamé, and silhouettes, such as saris and sarongs.
- “The Surreal Body” in the final gallery will illustrate how both women affect contemporary images of the female body through Surrealistic practices such as displacement, playing with scale, and blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion as well as the natural and the artificial. This last category is of particular interest to me as I studied art and have always appreciated the playful, surrealist side of fashion. It also explains why I have a fondness for the art of trompe l’oeil, which literally translates to ‘fool the eye’.
I am so excited to go to the exhibit when I am in New York again. In the meantime, here are my favorite red carpet looks from 2012.