Met Gala 2014 exhibition titled ‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’ had the classic theme of ‘white tie and decorations’. Since women usually do tend to make an effort by incorporating the designer’s style into their wardrobe, it was men who were thrown in a toss to get ready for the big night. The classic theme had its fair share of rebels and those who went all out at the theme whole heartedly. Many designers pushed envelopes in their own styles while being inspired by the construction master in whose honor the whole exhibition was taking place. Others went very off key but its fun to see how the themes are interpreted. My picks this year (in random order):
The diva DITA VON TEESE chose the designer who has always been inspired by Charles James and known for his impeccably constructed gowns. Zac Posen had Dita Von Teese as his muse in a blush mermaid petal gown with red details merging into the red carpet. The detail being similar to that of James, Zac Posen paid homage to the construction master in his own way. Accenting it off with red details, including the red Roger Vivier clutch, and those waves, the burlesque dancer was quite the bewitching sight on the red carpet. Glamorous, thematic, experimetal, she ticked all the boxes.
Charlize Theron‘s successful run continued at the red carpet of MET. The woman has been consistently delivering one after the other good looks that are chic and MET night was no different. The Dior gown with criss cross black and white details on the side fit her like a glove. The modern take on ‘American’ elite eveningwear, the gown was perfect for the occassion while referencing James. The master stroke was the tuxedo jacket that brings in the unexpected element of the male theme into womenswear. It was hip, chic and she styled her in-between length brilliantly showing off her Fred Leighton jewels. She finished it off with jimmy choo sandals.
As a designer pushing the boundaries, in an aesthetic manner, is as important. That is precisely what Alexander Wang did representing Balenciaga on the red carpet with muse Kristen Wigg (woohhooo!! wat an unexpected… i almost expected Carey Mulligan). The ensemble that felt more Wang than Balenciaga, was a high-low hem black top with black pants. What was fun was Wang through his minimally chic n uber modern constructional sensibilities paid respect to Charles james in his own way. The top was immaculately constructed and while witholding the shape, it felt like someone had sliced through a ball gown. The slick back hair and smoky eyes gave miss wigg a polished and edgy look, far removed from her comic demeanor.. Love
Blowing everyone out of water was model Karolina Kurkova in a blue Marchesa gown. The impeccably constructed gown followed the theme to a T with classic American 50’s flair with a modern twist to it. Featuring painted flowers with some of them going 3d, the layered gown with its petal shapes took floral inspiration from James.. It could have easily drowned miss Kurkova, but the supermodel shows you why she is one of the best in the business. Accessorizing with just the neck piece, this was poetic construction.
Bringing high street to high fashion was Anne Hathaway in Calvin Klein. The crop top has made quite the appearance in the high street circles and bring that trend with her A game without any doubts was Miss Hathaway in a two piece column ensemble in red at the MET gala. The crop top bared just enough midriff without it being too much. She played up tonal color block with ruby red shoes and a hexagon ruby red clutch. She finished off with her dark pixie hair side swept and dangling earrings perfectly framing her face. Delicate and fierce at the same time.
Olsen twins, one in vintage Chanel, other in military inspired vintage Ferre, cut quite the modern picture on the red carpet. Androgynous in their approach of gowns, both the sisters had pulled back their hair for some serious fashion to the red carpet. In their gowns they looked smart, chic, no nonsense young women. The young entrepreneurs each one accessorized it minimally but differently. While one had a neckpiece with her wide collar pinstripe Chanel gown, other one had just pearl earrings with her gown.
Hailee Steinfeld literally grew this night and how!! In a Prabal Gurung black and white gown, the young starlet looked all grown up woman from the last time I saw her in Marchesa at Oscars. Prabal Gurung with his gown spun a young modern take on the gown, while paying homage to the designer in exhibition. The racer back top part combined with the whole skirt with high low hem tease to show off her shoes was a brilliant move. Choosing black and white, his muse worked that gown hitting the ball out the park every minute. With her hair, middle parted and in a chignon she finished the look with Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery. It was young, hip, sporty and classic all at the same time.
Zac Posen was quite the popular designer apart from Oscar dela Renta on the Red Carpet, possibly because of his constructions hitting quite close to Charles James. Maggie Q was no different opting for the gown from the young designer. What made Maggie Q stand out was the choice of her gown, along with the way she carried it lending a certain aristocratic air to the whole look. The black gown that featured extensions around hip, that extended downward, was styled minimally with a severe parted hair bun, smoky eyes and minimal jewels. Full points to nailing the look.
The co-chair herself,Sarah Jessica Parker graced the occasion in an Oscar dela Renta gown, complete with gloves and an updo for the night. The designer took a leaf from Charles James book and recreated the whole look, however addeded in a checkered back panel with his signature, lending a contemporary light hearted take on the look. The petal gown in ivory and black was as classy evening wear as it would go. I love how Miss Parker goes all the way into the theme every year and comes out trumps without taking herself too seriously. The double beehive with flowers completed the whole look.
Was literally torn between Zoe Saldana and Anna Kendrick for this last spot, but then again, who’s gonna kill me for including both.. no one. Marc Jacob’s date Zoe Saldana made a statement with a black and white halter with a plunging neckline. The lower part of the gown flared into a controlled bubble which could have gone either way but thanks to the designer it doesn’t. Credit to Ms Saldana for keeping the makeup contemporary without needing a pop of color. The berry lips and bronzed makeup were minimally perfect. Anna Kendrick on the other hand in J. Mendel cut the pretty constructed picture in a black and white gown with a cut out. Not as dramatic as others, but the gown with its slick construction of bustier with a peek a boo of the mid riff was just enough for her to score major points going the modern classic way. Accessorizing with just diamond studs and side parted hair, this woman definitely turned heads that night.
Usually at MET the women tend to follow the theme set by the exhibition but this time around we did see some rebels. However the theme for the red carpet set by Anna Wintour set many men out there in a tizzy with WHITE TIE & DECORATIONS. Stepping up their game, the men did not disappoint.
Wearing Tom Ford to the gala, Bradley Cooper followed the theme literally to the T. He had the Tailed coat, the white tie and vest, tailored pants… and women couldn’t get enough of him. He’s forgiven for the onyx, but would have preferred a much more polished look but its maybe his next movie’s look. Finished it off with white pocket square.
Even though his partner did not go the route, Jim Parsons went the whole way in his tux by Brooke Brothers. The white on white bowtie with shirt and vest and the tailcoat was complete in sync with the theme. What was fun was the floral lapel pin that both sported. Cute and quirtky.
Let’s just not even… Hawtness in a shot. Tom Ford in tom ford and Benedict Cumberbatch in Ralph Lauren.
*All images belong to their respective owners
One of the most awaited shows this awards season was Alexander Wang’s debut at Balenciaga. With bated breath, everyone was wondering how an american high street wear designer will live up to the legacy of Cristobal Balenciaga whom Dior called ‘the master of us all’ and Nicholas Ghesquire who took the label to new heights before his contract ended last season. Rooting most of his collection on Balenciaga”s thought process, Alexander Wang certainly did not disappoint in his first outing. Now as a designer myself, I am aware of the time one needs to produce a collection for the runway. Considering, according to the press he started working on it in January, and producing two collections simultaneously in that time crunch (his own label’s and balenciaga’s) I am sure either he is very good at managing himself or would have been pretty crazy for him to shuttle between New York and Paris.
Taking one back to the Balenciaga basics, the designer’s restrained show with crackled marble runway and toned down setting, checked all the boxes. While both designers, Balenciaga and Wang are as different as they come, but times change. The way to evolve a fashion house is to examine its foundations and adapt it to a contemporary context. Thats what precisely mr. Wang did. While he looked to Balenciaga but without being too reverntial, he brought forth, what i felt, an underlining ‘wang-ness’ to the collection. What resulted in was turning around of Balenciaga couture and making it wearable. Signature structured elegance in the form of rounded jackets, molded peplums and contemporary embroidery(how could he not do it after Ghesquire did it) made wearable appearances on the runway. He played it safe, but he made no mistakes.
I loved the fact that he minimized the couture-ness of the signature of the design house to make them realistic for today while referencing it to the past. A few bodice draped dresses caught my attention since they are to pull off in ready to wear line. Furthermore what also intersted me was despite and understated show, his use of technology and technique to come up with textiles. He played with textures, making knit look like cracked leather (which is difficult to do to knit since both are different materials) and hard stiff wool. As Style.com reviewed “he cracked, paint-spackled mohair knits were some of the best things on the catwalk; they made for a nice metaphor, too, about the promise of a young designer ready to break with the past when the time’s right.” Giving the modern buzz to the design house, he created a collection which had the flavor of the master. Here is hoping to this new designer settles in seamlessly (pun intended) into the fabric of the design house of Balenciaga.
A few other reviews of the show that i came across:
“The New York designer can certainly build on these clothes for next season, adding color and maybe more decoration, but if he continues to strike that modern balance between couture and the street, he will renew a great name — and win over doubters.” — Cathy Horyn feels confident about his future at Balenciaga in The New York Times.
“It’s fair to say that there was more Balenciaga than Alexander Wang in this particular collection — the looseness of his fabrications replaced by something stiffer and more luxurious here — and it was right that he let the house take over. It’s a big house after all and this is his first season.” — Jessica Bumpus, Vogue UK
“The stardust in Wang’s own-label collections at New York fashion week has always been a sixth sense about what young women want to wear, and it is that connection which PPR hopes he can bring to Balenciaga…Where Ghesquiere’s design processes were intricate and multi-layered, Wang’s approach was to present the subtle, nuanced codes of Balenciaga in a new, simple way. As Wang commented after the show, Balenciaga himself ‘took the avant-garde, and made it everyday.'” — Jess Cartner-Morley, fashion editor at The Guardian.
“The front row cheered as the designer took his bow — proof of his well earned and enduring popularity and a sign he will be supported going forward. He should be as proud of his work as we are.” ELLE editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy.
“Based on his body of work in New York, it’s hard to imagine him embracing obvious retro over the long haul; he may feel compelled to inject a grittier currency going forward. Nor did the show offer the heady thrill of Nicolas Ghesquière’s best work, the brilliance of which brought the house from decades of dormancy back into the forefront of fashion until the designer’s tenure there started to sour. But for a collection not a minute more than two months in the making from first glimmer to runway, it made for an impressive start.” — WWD.
“For my money, it looked decidedly more grown up than his previous offerings (no surprise there), rather pretty in places (not a word usually associated with Wang’s collections), lacking in colour, and a bit weird towards the end. All in all, not a bad start. Maybe.” — Belinda White at The Telegraph .
“There were few vivid or kitschy stand-out pieces – save the blogger-worthy stormy, marble veined fur jackets which closed the show. Instead monochromatic good taste and simple elegance prevailed. This was a catwalk show which was immediately understandable and resolutely sellable.” — Catherine Ormerod atGrazia .
*Images from style.com*