Celebrities from far and wide flocked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last night for the biggest fashion party of the year, the Met Gala. The annual event is chaired by fashion’s fairy god mother Anna Wintour (Taylor Swift, Idris Elba and Apple’s Chief Design Officer Johnathon Ive co-hosted this year) and it is she who is responsible for setting the theme. The theme for 2016 was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, a relevant and thought-provoking choice given the increasingly central role tech is playing in the creation of clothes.
The Met Gala celebrates fashion as a form of art; the red carpet becomes a kind of exhibition space where designers their most innovative, intricate and breathtakingly beautiful pieces, curated especially for this all-important evening. True to the theme, almost all of the dresses gestured towards the evolution of design processes, featuring elements both hand finished and computer created. Cutting edge technology such as 3-D printing is changing what it means for a piece to be ‘hand-made’, blurring the lines between couture and ready-to-wear. This evolution within fashion is often referred to as ‘wearable tech’, a notion encapsulated in arguably THE stand out look of the night, Claire Danes’ Zac Posen gown.
The stunning dress (above) looked relatively conventional until pictured in the dark, when 30 hidden battery packs lit up to make the very fabric of the gown glow, transforming Danes into a princess from a futuristic fairytale.
Similarly, Karolina Kurvkova’s dress incorporated LED lights (one-hundred and fifty of them, all hand placed to be precise!) which also utilised smart technology in order to react to social media in real time. The dress was a collaborative effort, designed by Marchesa and IBM Watson. The latter did copious amounts of Marchesea archival research and data analysis, so that the LED lit flowers could change colour in accordance with the emotions expressed about in on social media. If that isn’t a smart dress, I don’t know what is!
Speaking of Marchesa, for me the duo Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig were the stand out designers of the evening, dressing Nina Dobrev and Poppy Deleveigne as well as Kurkova. Delevigne’s look was probably my favourite of the whole evening as the entire ensemble was styled to perfection. Dark lipstick and poker straight, side-parted bleach blonde hair offset the plunging tiered dress wonderfully. Both Dobrev and Delevigne’s dresses oozed old school Hollywood glamour whilst showcasing a modern intricacy of design. The dresses also ticked two of the major boxes that the evening’s theme alluded to: embellishment and metallics.
Mirrors, feathers and sequins were also in plentiful supply last night, as were unusual fabrics (see Beyonce’s unbelievably amazing latex Givenchy dress), as designers attempted to outdo one another in the creative – and technologically enhanced- stakes. However, the futuristic vibe didn’t necessarily work for everyone, as the weird robo-cop style metal arm armour worn by Zayn Malik over his suit made clear. The same goes for Madonna, who literally showed her derrière in a sheer Givenchy lace number, Solange Knowles whose yellow ensemble looked more comical than cutting-edge and finally Lady Gaga, who seemed to have forgotten the bottom half of her outfit.
As per usual, there was also some impressive train action. Zoe Saldana’s Dolce & Gabanna feathered train (almost) rivalled Rihanna’s canary yellow extravaganza from last year and Stella Maxwell looked amazing in a slinky Topshop gown. As is the norm for any A-lister event,there was also a lot of Balmain, with Jordan Dunn, Cindy Crawford, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West all dressed in Olivier Rousteing’s shimmering signature styles.
Beyond the gowns themselves, there was also some futuristic beauty styling on show, from metallic eye shadows to Lupita Nyong’o’s wild hair-do. Everyone is talking about the actress’s gravity-defying hair style – which whilst rather mad – actually looked incredibly on-brief and really rather chic. Whilst Nyong’o’s look has been compared in the press to a resident Dr Suess’s ‘Whoville’ (not altogether unfairly), this adventurous style certainly made her stand out from the crowd at a night where individuality is key.
Given that tickets to the gala reportedly cost upwards of £17k, the closest the vast majority of us will ever get to that red carpet is through pictures. So, in the spirit of inclusion, so that we might all feel a little more involved in this exclusive soiree, I have put together a slide show of my twenty favourite looks from last night. This way you can – at the very least – know who wore what and how good they looked in it , whilst day dreaming about one day owning a piece of futuristic fashion of your very own.
*All image copyright: Getty