It’s affectionately referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” and last night’s Met Gala did not disappoint, as guests hit the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in looks that ranged from divine to outright deranged.
This year’s theme, Karl Lagerfeld: a Line of Beauty, celebrated the life and work of the fashion designer who died in February 2019 at the age of 85. With a tenure that included positions at the top of brands including Chanel, Fendi, Chloe, Balmain and his own eponymous label, there was much archive material (150 key pieces of which will comprise the Museum’s annual fashion exhibition, which opens on May 5) for the 200 celebrity guests to mine.
Here’s what went down:
Co-hosting in style
Crowns for chicest on the night were snatched by the co-chairs, handpicked by Wintour each year. Dua Lipa stole the show in a white tweed Chanel wedding dress, first worn on the runway by Claudia Schiffer in the autumn 1992 collection. The singer paired the dress with a never-before-seen Tiffany & Co 100-carat diamond necklace, worth over $10million. Fellow co-host Penelope Cruz arrived in a white sheer hooded gown from Chanel Couture’s spring/summer 1988 collection, whose full skirt and sequin embellishments served princessy perfection. Joining them was Michaela Coel, who dazzled in a bronze Schiaparelli second skin sheer tulle gown embroidered with twinkling bijoux using 135,000 crystal beads, 26,500 stones and 3,800 hours of hand embroidery to complete. Finishing the group was tennis star Roger Federer in a classic black tuxedo.
Mining the Chanel archives
Among the best tributes were those that referenced, re-wore or reworked looks from 90s Chanel, an era in which Lagerfeld played triumphantly with the codes of the French house. Fresh from headlining Coachella, Blackpink’s Jennie Kim made her Met debut in a reinterpretation of look 164 from Lagerfeld’s fall 1990 ready-to-wear collection, created for her by the Chanel team. One of the last Chanel muses to be picked by Lagerfeld, Kim kept it cute in a white bustier mini with a black ribbon bodice adorned with a simple white camellia and matching flower in her hair.
Margot Robbie, meanwhile, sparked rumours that she’s still locked in her Chanel contract when she arrived in a chic if unadventurous sheer black bustier and skirt first debuted by Cindy Crawford on the Chanel 1993 runway in Paris. Nicole Kidman referenced herself (as it were) in the pale pink Chanel gown — embroidered with 250 feathers and 3000 crystals — Lagerfeld designed for her in 2004 to star in the Chanel No. 5 commercial directed by Baz Luhrmann; as did Gisele Bündchen, who arrived for her first Met Gala post-divorce wearing the bridal look from Lagerfeld’s spring 2007 couture show. Bündchen had worn the dress, which came with a dramatic white-feathered cape, for a fashion editorial that same year.
Chanel shows are famous for their bridal-look finales, so it was fitting that several guests said ‘I do’ to the theme. Elle Fanning channelled a woodland wedding in a white lace Vivienne Westwood gown with a black bolero which she accessorised with a flower crown dripping with black ribbons and a white floral bouquet, while American model Alton Mason, the first black male model to walk in a Chanel show, stunned in a custom Lagerfeld couture bridal lace jumpsuit with veil and satin floral bouquet designed by Hun Kim. Queen of the Met Rihanna expectantly shut the show down as she arrived with beau A$AP Rocky. Arriving late, she was a vision in a white bridal Valentino look, cocooned in a cape of 30 giant camellias ands huge train, while Rocky was effortless in a kilt, jeans tie and blazer which nodded to Largerland’s personal look as he took his bow during the SS05 show.
Keeping it Karl
Lagerfeld knew the power of a recognisable uniform, and started with his own: white ponytail, tux and tie, aloof shades and fingerless gloves included. Cara Delevingne, who first became the face of Chanel in 2014, paid tribute in a crisp white shirt dress and silvery wig. Others committed to his black tie, including Cardi B who wore a huge crinoline black gown by Chenpeng Studio and Kristen Stewart who kept it boyish in a white tie suit, tie and slacks from the 2016 Chanel Cruise Collection. Some wore Lagerfeld’s leather fingerless gloves, including Lily James, Usher, Ke Huy Quan and Manu Rios.
The biggest shocks
Lagerfeld’s Birman cat Choupette (yes, she of 190k Instagram follower fame) provided great inspiration for the night’s most outlandish dressers. There was Jared Leto in a life-size cat costume, Doja Cat who wore a prosthetic feline nose with her Oscar De la Renta gown of 350,000 silver and white bugle beads and cat ear hood, as well as the most controversial, Lil Nas X. The Old Town Road rapper went naked save for a silver thong, thousands of crystals, and pearl-encrusted whiskers. Anna Wintour hard-launched her long-rumoured relationship with Bill Nighy as they arrived arm-in-arm, while pregnancy reveals came courtesy of Serena Williams and Karlie Kloss.
The cool-girls of the carpet stripped things back to black with Gothic glam. Gigi Hadid channelled Wednesday Addams in an all-sheer black corset dress by Givenchy, while Billie Ellish served similar energy in a custom look by Irish designer Simone Rocha. For her gala debut, Paris Hilton wore an all-black leather Marc Jacobs gown with sparkling sleeves, rosette choker and towering platform boots, and joined Kendall Jenner in a charcoal sequined bodysuit and dramatic, floor-length sleeves also by the American designer. Other members of the all-black-set were Daisy Edgar Jones and Sienna Miller, both in Gucci, Lily James in a leather strapless dress by Tamara Ralph Couture, and Rita Ora in a trailing black sheer Prabal Gurung gown.
While some female guests paired things back, boys in attendance relished their moment in the spotlight. The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal rocked a voluptuous red Valentino overcoat and shirt, plus military boots and black shorts. Singer Bad Bunny arrived with designer Jacquemus in a white suit and 26-foot floral train, and was outshined only by Jeremy Pope who had a custom Balmain train bearing Lagerfeld’s face trailing the Met steps behind him.
Londoners lifted the monochrome mood
Kate Moss and her daughter Lila brought a welcome pop of colour in coordinating pale pink Fendi ensembles; Kate in her favourite lacey slip silhouette, Lila in a marabou feather fancy. They were accompanied by Kim Jones, who replaced Lagerfeld as creative director of Fendi. Also in sugary pink was Naomi Campbell, who wore a draped satin gown from Chanel’s spring/summer 2010 couture collection. Burberry’s guests were all dressed in blue: Jodie Comer in a one-shoulder feathered gown, Stormzy in a custom rose print black and blue suit, and Burna Boy in a black and blue check shirt.
Pearls and more pearls
Since Coco Chanel made costume pearls desirable in the early 1900s, they have been a signature of the house of Chanel - and much championed during Lagerfeld’s tenure. Kim Kardashian led the pack as she covered herself in 50,000 freshwater gems, worn over a nude corset which took the house of Schiaparelli 1,000 hours to construct. Lizzo wore a black Chanel dress adorned with pearl harness before slipping into a mirrored Fendi coat during the evening’s performance slot, while Phoebe Bridgers opted for a skeleton-inspired costume with pearl embellishments by Tory Burch.
Those missing at this year’s gala have made as many headlines as attendees. Where were Met royalty Blake Lively and Ryan Renolds, Timothée Chalamet, Haliey and Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Beyoncé, Zendaya, Bella Hadid, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj? It might well be due to Lagerfeld’s tarnished legacy of controversial comments, specifically around weight, which have made the rounds again in the run up to this year’s event. “This man... was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly towards women,” said Jameela Jamil after the theme was announced last year.
Scroll the gallery above for the best dressed guests at the Met Gala 2023