A look inside China: Through the Looking Glass, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
China has served as fruitful inspiration to designers for ages. This year’s Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, China: Through the Looking Glass, finally honors the exotic culture responsible for some of the greatest looks in fashion. With couture displayed alongside ancient artifacts, the exhibit takes a peek at how history and art collide to form magic.
Joan Smalls in Roberto Cavalli, Kerry Washington in Prada, and Kate Hudson in Michael Kors
The Met Gala is the biggest night in fashion and these three stars certainly delivered dramatic gowns worthy of the event. Instead of taking the theme too literally, they wisely opted for garments that incorporated a tasteful homage to Chinese fashion into the forward-looking design. Joan Smalls decided to go racy in a Roberto Cavalli number that highlighted her supermodel curves. The one shoulder gown, embellished with oriental flowers, was very feminine, but Smalls toughened the look with an edgy chocker and slick middle part. Kerry Washington had a Cinderella moment on the red carpet. Her puffy, pink, Prada gown was unique because it mimicked the precise folds of traditional origami. The unexpected pops of emerald green, shown off by an equally surprising high-low skirt, complemented the actress’ architectural stunner. Kate Hudson arrived at the Met Gala looking like a radiant empress dressed in gilded Michael Kors. Her paired down version of the Chinese cheongsam was sophisticated and polished, but her undone top-knot gave the ensemble an effortless charisma.
Anne Hathaway Ralph Lauren Collection, Katy Perry in Moschino, and Adriana Lima in Marc Jacobs
Oh how the mighty have fallen! Anne Hathaway, Katy Perry, and Adriana Lima donned these three atrocious ensembles, but as former fashion trendsetters, they should have known better. Ever since that infamous Oscars dress in 2013, Hathaway’s red carpet appearances have been increasingly disastrous; and her Jedi inspired look for the Met Gala was the worst one yet. The Head-to-toe gold-lamé felt very garish and tacky, especially with the boxer-style hood. Newsflash Anne: evening wear and gym clothes are a toxic combination. As a huge fan of whimsical fashion, the Met Gala is typically Katy Perry’s time to shine. This year, however, the light shown in a rather unflattering way. Perry’s cheap-looking Moschino gown quite literally looked like garbage. A general rule of thumb: graffiti should be left to the streets, not the red carpet of a black tie event. Adriana Lima was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the night. How could a Victoria Secret Angel look so drab and dreary? Dressed in an ill-fitting Marc Jacobs gown complete with gross hair extensions and overdone makeup, Lima resembled a tacky goth princess. Reminder: no matter how incredible your body is, a studded maroon schmatta is never attractive.
Biggest Fashion Faux Pas:
Kim Kardashian in Roberto Cavalli and Beyonce at the Met Gala in 2012 in Givenchy
While I loved Kim Kardashian’s sheer Roberto Cavalli number, it called to mind a Givenchy gown previously worn by a certain pop diva. The incredible beadwork, curve hugging silhouette, and trail of exotic plumes, bore a striking resemblance to Beyonce’s Met Gala look from 2012. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but Kim’s inability to come up with new ideas is getting old. A helpful hint: never copy Queen B’s style because, no matter who you are, you will never be able to outshine her.
Most Racist Interpretations of Chinese Dress:
Lady Gaga in Balenciaga, Karolina Kurkova in Tommy Hilfiger, Chloë Sevigny in J.W. Anderson, Kris Jenner in Balmain, Sarah Jessica Parker in H&M
There are always a handful of Met attendees who take the theme to an extreme and this year’s Chinese extravaganza set the stage for some pretty racist ensembles. From Lady Gaga’s “fat” emperor get-up, to Chloë Sevigny’s silk straight-jacket, to Kris Jenner’s oriental waitressing uniform, A-list stars chose dresses in extremely poor taste. Just because there is a theme, doesn’t mean your outfit needs to be fished out of a costume bin.