New York, New York: Bad news for fans of freaky fashion. Manhattan’s Met Gala has been indefinitely postponed, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual fundraising fete, which benefits the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is best known as a balls-to-the-wall competition among outrageously clad celebrities attempting to induce a) shock, b) lust, c) jealousy, d) outrage, e) retinal haemorrhage f) all of the above, as they swan up the museum’s red carpeted steps each May.
While the stars may be unable to shine at the gala this year, fear not. For your viewing confusion, I’m hooking you up with some of the weirdest, most wanton confections from the past—and looking back at the far-fetched creations from the Met’s 2016 exhibit “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology.”
The 2020 fete was due to fall on May the 4th, which could have inspired all sorts of “May the Fourth Be With You” Star Wars fetish-wear. It wouldn’t be the first time that the rich and famous looked to George Lucas’s intergalactic heroes for sartorial tips.
In 2016, for instance, two celebs battled to bag the prize for primo C3PO impersonation. Kim Kardashian wriggled down the runway swathed in tailored tinfoil, while Zayn Malik—i.e. “the One Direction dude with ALL the eyebrows”—accessorised his tux with cast-off car parts.
So, how did this annual benefit become synonymous with outré couture? We may have Cher to thank (or blame…or both). Back in ’74, arguably the greatest “don’t give a damn” grande dame of all time squeaked up to the Met in what amounted to bedazzled Saran Wrap, helping to pave the way for future flesh-flashing chanteuses like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.
By 2016, Madonna seemed keen to turn back time with this cheeky combo of black lace and…Ace bandages?
How does one top Madonna’s bottom? Beyoncé somehow managed it by posing in a figure-hugging, flesh-coloured latex body condom, which one Instagrammer reckoned was actually the skin of her husband’s alleged mistress. WHOA.
In 2018, Rihanna’s dope pope ensemble proved to be a controversial Hail Mary, moving the fashion goalposts even further downfield.
2019 may have been the best/worst year yet. Take, for instance, Katie Perry’s candelabra couture. Was she auditioning for the part of Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, or was this the flamboyant singer’s version of wearing a lampshade on her head?
Speaking of heads, one might argue that actor Jared Leto was off his when he appeared with a waxwork of his own the same year.
But the Met Ball may have reached its zenith with the regal apparition of actor Billy Porter, attired like a glittering Egyptian god with the wings of a phoenix. Porter didn’t so much “walk” the red carpet. Rather, he was transported on a velvet litter supported by six buff men in gold collars, cuffs…and not much else.
Lest you think these looks are a bit “try hard,” consider this. These folks have got serious competition for the spotlight—not only among one another, but from the glad rags on display at the Met’s annual fashion exhibit, which they are ostensibly there to support.
You can’t just slip on a simple satin sheath and rhinestone sandals when, inside the hallowed hall’s of the museum’s costume institute, you might be sashaying past a bridal bikini composed of strategically placed roses or a ravenesque dress…made from plastic straws.
Those were just two of the looks on display at 2016’s “Manus x Machina,” which showcased more than 170 designs and examined how innovations like 3-D printing, computer modelling and ultrasonic welding (whatever that is) blurred the lines between haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear styles. Here are the top ten ogle-worthy fashions I spotted at the exhibit.
Scariest Skeleton in the Closet
What do you get when you peel away Beyonce’s “skin suit?” Possibly this skeleton tutu, a 3-D fantasy by Dutch born designer Iris van Herpen.
Most Fashion Forward (and Reverse, Presumably)
You don’t exactly wear Hussein Chalayan’s “Kaikoku” Floating Dress. You drive it.
The designer breaks it down for us. “The wearer enters the dress (which is made of gold-painted cast fiberglass) through a rear-access panel,” he explains, “and the entire garment, which is on wheels, is operated via remote control.”
Hmmm. Could it be just the ticket for an eye-catching entrance, or is this a prime candidate for a catwalk costume malfunction? We’ll let the fashion police decide.
Most Creative Solution to a Bad Hair Day
You won’t need a hairdresser, or make-up for that matter, when you shimmy into this gimp gown of nude lace and black patent leather by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Perfect for movie stars who want to maintain their anonymity when they’re papped tumbling out of taxis without their undergarments.
Easiest to Pack
Issey Miyake’s “Flying Saucer” dress, composed of pleated polychrome polyester, collapses like an accordion to comfortably fit in your carry-on. If you have an irrational fear of Jack-in-the-Boxes, however, this may not be the dress for you.
Best Use of Bird Skulls
Okay, so this may be the only dress that incorporates gull skulls, but Iris van Herpen’s pink feathered frock is definitely a doozy.
Best Interpretation of a Fashion Victim
Hussein Chalayan’s molded polyurethane foam dress isn’t so much an accident waiting to happen as his vision of an accident unfolding before our eyes. According to Hussein, the racy number on the right is meant to evoke “the cause and effect of a crash in one moment.”
The biggest danger I foresee, however, is trying to sit in it.
Sexiest Space Alien
Captain Kirk couldn’t have resisted a vixen from Venus sporting Iris van Herpen’s 3-D printed, peek-a-boo pleated top, especially paired with a fringed miniskirt designed to reveal a great pair of legs…or shapely tentacles, as the case may be.
Scuba Dooba I Do
Who wouldn’t say yes to this dress by Karl Lagerfeld for House of Chanel? The price tag may have you feeling a bit underwater, buy hey, no worries. It’s made of scuba knit! Of course, if you’re actually planning to take the nuptial dive by, well, taking a dive, the 30-foot glittering gold embroidered train may look a bit worse for wear after being dragged across a coral seabed.
Handiest for House Cleaning
Give the maid the day off. You’ll get the dusting done in a jiffy with a quick whirl around your 5,000-square-foot penthouse apartment in this House of Balenciaga feathered confection.
Most Fashionable Post-Gala Guest Appearance
The divas of the red carpet weren’t the only fashionistas threatening to steal the spotlight from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld. Artist Lynx Alexander turned heads at the Met’s members-only preview on May 3 in this flyaway tie he made himself.
“I’m never at a loss for words,” he insisted. “But this exhibition has left me speechless.”
He may have been tongue-tied, but Alexander, who designs a new tie every day, was also inspired. “I’ll probably create a new one tomorrow based on what I’ve seen here today.”
Social media links
Twitter: @metmuseum #metgala
Instagram: @metmuseum #metgala