CULTURE

Why Did So Few Stars Take a Fashion Risk at the 2017 Met Gala?

Thank you Rihanna.


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At the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s 2017 Costume Institute gala, there were plenty of celebrities, and a lot of glittering dresses: there was Kylie Jenner, wearing a blush-tone figure-hugging Versace gown with fringe; Gisele Bündchen showing off her toned back in a slinky silver number from Stella McCartney; Selena Gomez in a custom white frock from Coach. They all looked stunning – but the dress code for the evening was “avant-garde.” And in that case, they failed.

As the starry crowd began making their way up the museum’s stairs and into the Temple of Dendur to celebrate the new exhibit ‘Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the Inbetween,’ it seemed obvious that many guests weren’t going to play it safe–just look at Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, who interpreted ‘avant-garde’ as ‘naked with sparkles,’ just as Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé did in years prior?

Met Gala 2017: See What Katy Perry, Gisele Bündchen, and More Wore on the Red Carpet

Katy Perry in custom Maison Margiela Artisanal by John Galliano at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Tom Brady in Tom Ford and Gisele Bundchen in Stella McCartney at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Rihanna in Comme des Garçons at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh in Comme des Garçons at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Jaden Smith in Louis Vuitton with his dreadlocks at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Donatella Versace and Kylie Jenner in Versace at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Joan Smalls in Topshop at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Candice Swanepoel at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Photo by Getty Images.

Grimes in custom Proenza Schouler at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: The Art of the In-Between” in New York, New York, May 2017.

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Alexa Chung in Diane von Furstenberg at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Mindy Kaling in Prabal Gurung at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Adriana Lima in Alberta Ferretti at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Daisy Ridley in Oscar de la Renta at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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James Corden and Julia Carey at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Aymeline Valade in Marni at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Emma Roberts in Diane von Furstenberg at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Katie Holmes in Zac Posen at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Tommy and Dee Hilfiger at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Diane von Furstenberg at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Nick Jonas in Ralph Lauren at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Laura Dern in Gabriela Hearst at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Photo by Getty Images.

Kylie Jenner in Versace at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Ansel Elgort in Tom Ford at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Claire Danes in Monse and Hugh Dancy at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Photo by Getty Images.

Emily Ratajkowski in Marc Jacobs at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Sofia Richie in Topshop at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Bella Hadid in Alexander Wang at the 2017 Met Gala for “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.”

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Apparently, the answer came in the form of the actresses, models, and guests who actually chose to wear archival pieces by Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo. Gala co-host Caroline Kennedy, a 59-year-old former author, attorney and diplomat, among other things, wore a sculptural floral frock, proving that anyone at any age can embrace a thought-provoking piece of fashion. Kennedy, for her part, has been a fan of the designer since she was the United States Ambassador to Japan. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross worked with her stylist Karla Welch and chose a deep blue jacquard look by the brand, and Stella Tennant looked confident and natural wearing a voluminous dress from the designer. All three pulled of looks that were challenging with aplomb. Sofia Sanchez de Betak also wore Comme Des Garçons, but she never thought of it as a risk. “I knew I wanted to wear CDG since the moment I heard the theme of the exhibition, Rei is one of my favorite designers in the world,” she said. “I find her clothes to be fascinating even throughout decades, regardless the season or trends. I was thinking of doing a very simple beauty look as the dress was already quite bold, but when we got started with the makeup it was hard to stop, I got a sort of sugar rush and kept adding and adding!”

Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross and Everyone Who Actually Wore Comme des Garcons to the 2017 Met Gala

Rihanna attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Tracee Ellis Ross attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Helen Lasichanh and Pharrell Williams attend the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

George Pimentel/Getty Images

Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy attend “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala – Arrivals at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

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Caroline Kennedy attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

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Anna Cleveland arrives at “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

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Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin arrives at “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

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Sofía Sanchez Barrenechea attends “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala – Arrivals at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

Venturelli/Getty Images

Stella Tennant attends “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” at the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Gala on May 1, 2017 in New York City.

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And then, luckily for all, Rihanna arrived, delivering a necessary fashion moment in the form of a sculptural gown that seemed to be made of cut-out hearts and a floral wallpaper. It was heaven. “Say It With Flowers,” her stylist, Mel Ottenberg, Instagrammed. “This night was to honor the incredible designs of Comme Des Garcons, so there was never any question of wearing any other designer,” Ottenberg said the next day. “It was important to me that Rihanna wore a look that was very strong and very Comme, and yet also very her. Rihanna is an incredible dresser and risk taker so I knew she would be game for a major moment, so I looked around for the perfect look. And this look from their Fall 2016 show was the one I knew was right. I love the incredible silhouette, color and depth. Feminizing the look with thigh high sandals and colored stones made it quintessential Rihanna.”

Perhaps a few stars found it a bit difficult to be inspired by Kawakubo’s work as so much of it deals with the exaggerated female form, and it questions what is fashion or anti-fashion – tropes that the Met exhibit explores fully. Thom Browne is another designer who offers a unique point of view on similar subjects and whose work leant itself well to the ‘avant-garde’ theme. The singer Solange, known for pushing boundaries and wearing brands that others are too timid to try, looked regal on the red carpet in a black puffer jacket with train paired with ice skate-inspired shoes, from the designer’s fall 2017 collection. “That look stood out to Solange and myself because it was strong and a bit defiant,” said the singer’s stylist, Peju Famojure said. “It was a proper nod to the Comme des Garçons legacy – the lumps and bumps collection, for instance, or the way Rei consistently reinvents and deconstructs suiting. Rei is also known for delivering messages through her work, redefining what feminine silhouettes are and what wearable fashion is. Thom Browne is a brilliant designer who also has a subversive take on what’s wearable. It was the perfect choice.”

Solange Knowles attends the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Neilson Barnard

Another young star willing to take a risk on the red carpet was Lily Collins. She wore a strapless Giambattista Valli gown, it’s volume and colors a clear nod to Kawakubo’s work. Collins wore her hair in a severe short bob and with bangs, and matching dark lips and nails. As a guest of Tiffany & Co, “Lily’s look was the ultimate combo of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ meets Rei Kawakubo,” her stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn explained. While such a meeting of inspirations could possibly go awry, “Lily’s classic old Hollywood Audrey Hepburn vibe allows us to play with these old Hollywood Glamour Silhouettes while her youth and rock and roll style always allows us to add an edge,” the duo explained. “In this case the hair inspired by Rei Kawakubo herself!”

It was refreshing to see a young actress get into the true spirit and character of the Met Gala’s theme, and one could only have wished that a few more who walked the red carpet got in the same spirit. They should have taken a page out of the fashion original Michelle Lamy’s sartorial book, at least just for one night. Arm in arm with partner Rick Owens, she caught the eye of everyone she passed (including, but not limited to, Migos) in an asymmetrical tiered red dress from the label, complete with witchy black boots. Now that is avant-garde.

Met Gala 2017: What Comme Des Garçons Looks Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, and More Should Wear

What: Fall 2017 Why: In case she actually does want to feel like a plastic bag.

George Pimentel

What: Fall 2016 Why: She’s had a particularly stressful year. This dress could double as a massage table mid-dessert course.

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What: Spring 2011 Why: The sisters exclusively pose together, already—this will just make it all the more easy.

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What: Fall 2012 Why: Millennial Pink for the ultimate Millennial model.

Rabbani and Solimene Photography

What: Comme Des Garcons Homme Plus 2011 Why: It is about time Bieber reclaimed his Prince of Pop crown.

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What: Fall 2017 Why: A disco stick, IRL. Also: not that different from her ensemble last year.

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What: Comme Des Garcons Homme Plus Spring Summer 2016 Why: Should he feel self-conscious about cutting off his famous hair.

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What: Spring 2017 Why: She famously said the Gala “sucked.” In case she changes her mind, she can sneak in unnoticed.

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What: Spring 2017 Why: She famously can’t keep her hands to herself. This will help.

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What: Fall 2013 Why: It’s practically understated compared to her typical color schemes.

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What: Spring 2017 Why: Kris Jenner: secretly part-Scottish!

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin

What: Fall 2017 Why: With a shape like this, one shade of grey will suffice.

Venturelli
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