May 14, 2024

The MET Gala 2024, Dressed to Impress!

The first Monday of May marks the most important fashion event of the year: It’s MET Monday, the day of the MET Gala. Hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the MET Gala is the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual exhibition with this year’s theme “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”. The items presented speak for 400 years of fashion history and most of them are in exceptionally delicate conditions, which makes them almost untouchable. Some of them can’t even be put on a mannequin, meaning they have to remain laying in a secured container. Therefore, the original purpose of the garment, to be worn, felt, seen or simply experienced, is not a given anymore. On another note, once an item, a garment, has joined a museum it becomes a piece of art, a piece of history. With this year’s exhibition by the Costume Institute these “Sleeping beauties” are reawakened to life, with the help of animations and AI, giving an idea of how these items were being experienced.

With the highly anticipated gala as the opening of the exhibition, a related dress code is set that has been staging some of the most memorable fashion moments of the century, offering a great platform for designers to show their full potential. This year’s dress code “The Garden of Time” was inspired by J.G. Ballard’s 1962 short story of the same title, which describes the last days of Count Axel and his wife, who are living a life of leisure and beauty in a big villa surrounded by a beautiful garden. On the outside of their peaceful ground, there is an army at the horizon heading towards the couple’s house aiming to destroy everything. In an effort to prevent the mod from arriving, the count reverses time by plucking the flowers from their most exquisite plant, the time flower, until none are left. Eventually the inevitable faith caught up with the count and his wife and the mob overrun their property.

Kendall Jenner wearing a Givenchy Fall/Winter 99 dress by Lee Alexander McQueen.

Gigi Hadid wearing a custom Thom Browne dress.

With this story and the exhibition’s theme in mind a variety of designers created garments that referenced different chapters. While Givenchy dressed Kendall Jenner in a Couture Fall/ Winter 1999 dress made by Lee Alexander McQueen, that has never been worn before, Thom Browne captured the idea of the countess before the thread of the mob, on a dress worn by Gigi Hadid, Glenn Martens for Diesel took the idea of the awaiting thread, with the vision of a floral dress that has been ripped while strolling through the bushes, worn by Dove Cameron to Marc Jacobs who’s inspiration was the darkness after the destruction for Dua Lipa’s dress.

Dove Cameron wearing a custom Diesel dress by Glenn Martins.

Lana Del Rey wearing a custom Alexander McQueen dress by Sean McGirr.

Once again, the dress code offered a large platform for creativity, and it was interesting to see how the designers interpreted the theme. While some took it very much literal with dresses referencing clocks or a garden, others had a much more abstract vision. One of those designers was Balmain’s Creative Director Olivier Rousteing. For singer Tyla he created a dress that looks like a body made of sand, normally seen on a beach. The design reminds of a day by the sea, playing in the sand, building something that will eventually be destroyed. Furthermore, is sand the element that tells the time in an hourglass, which happens to be the only accessory Tyla is wearing with the dress. At the end of the red carpet the Creative Director took some scissors and cut the fabric just above her knees, which plays in with the whole image created and opens a new chapter of the dress. This look is one of the most talked about on the internet for various reasons. On one hand because of its creative approach and on the other hand due to the singer’s inability to walk the stairs, which meant that she had to be carried up each step by five men.

Another highly discussed look was Lana Del Rey wearing Alexander McQueen by Sean McGirr. For this look the Creative Director had the vision of reinterpreting an archive McQueen Fall/Winter 2006 look, which could be related to the theme of the sleeping beauties, to then give it a twist that shows the impact of mother nature on time and on life in general. He designed a look that took a grounded and somewhat sinister approach on nature and fused these ideas into the final look Del Rey wore on the red carpet. The dress turned out to be a huge success and showed that McGirr, who just joined the house in October 2023, has what it takes for this new chapter of the brand.

Finally, one of the designers whose designs have rightfully gained a lot of attention in recent time, is John Galliano for Maison Margiela. His popularity was, unsurprisingly, reflected on the red carpet and each of his looks was simply breath taking. Worn by actors Zendaya, Gwendoline Christie and Adrien Brody, singers Ariana Grande and Bad Bunny as well as media personality Kim Kardashian, Maison Margiela was able to reach a large audience, that is not necessarily their usual target.

Taking a closer look at the dress Kim Kardashian was wearing, we can see that the look consists of different parts. While the skirt and corset look very rich in details, material as well as craftsmanship, the simple grey cardigan almost seems like a contrast. It is a look that plays with the idea of being seductively déshabillé, which means undressed in French. It tells the story of a woman that just had the best night of her life and grabs her boyfriend’s cardigan to run out of the house. Referring this to the story-inspiration of the dress code, it can be read as the sorrow free, rich life the Count and his wife were living before the threat. The metal laced skirt reminds of the fragile and precious flowers of their garden, that helped them live carefree for a while.

Kim Kardashian wearing a custom Maison Margiela dress by John Galliano.

Bad Bunny wearing a Maison Margiela double-breasted tuxedo with grosgrain lapels, a tuxedo shirt and Tabi lace-up shoes by John Galliano.

From the MET Gala we can expect to see the unexpected and with the above looks, we have truly had that. While some of the attendees and designers did not really align with the theme or chose the simple road, it was a true pleasure to see that many others have celebrated creativity, beauty and a high level of craftsmanship, which is what the Costume Institute is all about.