Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American woman, listen what I say...

Well kids, it's that time of year again. That's right, it's Costume Gala time. What is it about the combination of fabulous fashion folk and starved to perfection A-list celebs that proves so exciting every year? Wait...I may just have answered my own question. That's exactly what's so exciting about it, because unlike at awards shows and premiers when celebrities are expected to dress according to some rigid fashion standard that will appease people who don't actually care about fashion, the Met Gala is an invitation to go a little over the top, to wear something more daring than normal. Well, that's the theory, anyway. Despite near unlimited access to clothing by all of the designers in attendance there are still many celebrities who go safe and unthreatening. Now I'm not one to criticize a starlet for choosing something simple, in fact in these days when the red carpet standard is a rigid mile-wide bulldozer of a gown with all manner of beads, sequins, feathers and ruffles by Marchesa, something simple but stunning is a welcome relief for me. Safe on the other hand....well, it doesn't really get my pulse racing. Unfortunately safe is largely what we got this year. Someone on the Fashion Spot, and I can't remember who, pointed out that in the past the best red carpet arrivals for the Met gala have been when the exhibit has a very specific theme, and naturally people dress to reflect it. Whoever it was that said it was absolutely right. I've watched the event since 2003's "Goddess" exhibit, and since then there have been a few years when the red carpet action has been off-the-charts. The goddess exhibit, the Anglomania exhibit in 2006, Poiret in 2007 and the Superhero themed 2008 gala all had people upping their fashion game, and the results were far more interesting than you're likely to find at your standard black tie affair. Needless to say for the second year running the Costume Institute team has gone with a pretty basic, pretty general theme and the attendees' fashions reflect that. This year, sadly, there wasn't one "wow" moment for me. Even Lady Gaga who skipped the red carpet entirely went safe in a Prada tux. So while there were some beautiful looks, and while there were some really bad looks, most of the night's attendees filled up the huge gray area between gorgeous and God-awful.

Anyway, enough of my b.s. On with the dresses.

The Good

Kate Bosworth in Valentino Haute Couture

It doesn't hurt that Kate is stunning regardless, but the fact that she picked one of my favorite pieces out of the mixed bag that was the Valentino HC collection for Spring scores points from me. I knew it was only a matter of time before some stylist snatched that dress, and frankly I'm surprised it took 5 months for someone to wear it. She looks gorgeous, and even though it's hardly a challenging or unusual look, it's styled (and worn) beautifully.

Donna Karan in Donna Karan

Love it. Yeah it's a predictable Donna Karan dress, but it's gorgeous. Donna is proof that her clothes work just as well on a woman with an average body as they do on someone who fits into the sample size.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Halston

So I was definitely in the minority of people who liked SJP's Chanel Oscar gown. The hair should have been more polished, but overall I liked the whole 60s vibe she went for, and I loved the dress itself. But she took a lot of flack for that dress, and while I get that it didn't appeal to most the fact is that she was one of the few attendees who did something unusual. Now I dare anyone to question her fashion cred. I don't even know what it is about her look that I love, I mean it's such a simple dress, almost boring except for it's metallic sheen. It's by no means the most interesting or fashionable thing she's ever worn. I guess it's just a case of the right dress, right hair/makeup and right accessories coming together to bring life to a look. Honestly I think this was my favorite look of the night.

Charlotte Gainsbourg in Balenciaga

I'll freely admit that I am one of, like, 10 people who don't swoon over Ms. Jane Birken jr. style-wise. I really only see her at events, and at events she is always in Balenciaga straight off of the runway. I don't think that wearing a runway look makes you stylish. It says more for your taste level than it does for you style or individuality. Needless to say the only reason I like her look is because I liked that dress. Not sure why it was cropped to cooch level though.

Diane Kruger in Calvin Klein

When I saw the first picture of Diane last night I nearly died because my first thought was "OMG is she wearing one of the white Gucci gowns from 1996?". Then I saw another picture and realized no, she is not. But still, her stark fitted white column looked fantastic. This is what I was thinking of when I said there's a difference between simple and safe. It's such a plain dress, a plain look in fact, but it just isn't the kind of dress that shows up on the red carpet these days. Were I Francisco Costa I might have cut out the back just to add a little something (although that might just be my obsession with the aforementioned Gucci gowns talking). My only complaint is the hair and makeup. It's not bad, I just would have gone with lighter eyes and a side part instead of center. Other than that she looks gorgeous.

Gisele in Alexander Wang

I do like the dress, and it DEFINITELY stands out, but even though I like the dress and even though Gisele looks great in it I don't think that's the kind of dress you wear to an event like this. It's not that it's too short or whatever, but that the look of it just isn't formal at all. I can handle a little bit of trash, after all I still count Courtney Love in John Galliano's destroyed Dior trashbag gown at the 2000 Golden Globes among my favorite red carpet moments. However this particular look is a little too trashy and clubby for the setting. But I'll lump it in with the good because ultimately I think Mrs. Brady looks good.

The Bad

January Jones in Yves Saint Laurent

Besides starring on one of my favorite shows January has quickly become a part of the list of women that I look forward to seeing on the red carpet at events. She's nailed it more than once, and she's taken some chances along the way. But this look is unforgivable. January, I urge you, repent now. Fire whoever styled you and start fresh, preferably with a new designer ally. And as for Stefano Pilati, I haven't liked his work in years because for years he's been neglecting his job of making women look beautiful. This is just the hot pink straw that broke the gay camel's back. He's dead to me.

Kristen Stewart in Chanel Haute Couture

I'll give her this, she's clearly trying to up her style ante, and in theory this dress is perfect for her. It's edgy, with that slight punk vibe from the mesh fabric, but whoever hemmed it completely botched it. It's too short, and that isn't helped by the platform shoes which I don't like with the dress. The top looks kind of fucked up too. Overall whoever was altering this butchered what could have been (and was, in it's runway incarnation) a striking dress. I also don't like what her peeps did with the hair.

Elizabeth Banks in Gucci

Poor girl. It's a shame that she and/or her styling team chose that dress out of all of the dresses Gucci showed for fall. I hated this one on the runway because there's way too much going on, and all of the surface decoration gives the wearer's body an indecipherable shape. From the front she looks bigger than she actually is because of all that extra fluff. From the side it's no better because those feathers just looks like a giant landing strip. You tell me, which sounds worse?

Janet Jackson in Lanvin

In case you don't recognize the dress, here it is on the runway. Now I realize that what I'm about to say will probably offend someone, but she doesn't have the body for that dress. It does nothing for her and she does nothing for it. I'm not a size Nazi, and I definitely don't think that only skinny women look good in high fashion, but if your body distorts the garment you're wearing to the point that it takes away from it's design, or conversely if a garment distorts your body to the point that it no longer makes you look good, that garment isn't for you. Besides that the styling is bad regardless....not that the Jackson's are known for their subtlety or taste.

Carey Mulligan in Miu Miu

Mulligan caught my attention during awards season when she was making the rounds of events and ceremonies while parading a variety of dresses and gowns for all to see. While I didn't always love what she opted to wear, her quirky choices piqued my interest because she usually managed to stand out. I personally loved her tool embellished black Prada gown and newly blond pixie cut at the Oscars in March, so I was looking forward to seeing what she'd wear to an even more fashion-conscious event. Turns out it was a dud. The lilac colored granny lace Miu Miu babydoll she chose couldn't have been more anticlimactic. I still haven't warmed to the collection it came from, and I just don't think it was dressy enough. On top of that I honestly think it's kind of ugly, like some relic in the Brady Bunch costume department.

Honestly, those are the only looks that I even had a strong reaction to, and at the end of the day none of them are particularly extreme; the good ones aren't mindblowing and the bad ones aren't horrifying. Pretty much all of the other looks were predictable red carpet fare. If you've ever watched an awards show you know what most of the people will turn up in; draped one shoulder goddess chiffon, Barbie-worthy mermaid dresses and big, beaded ballgowns. I certainly hope that this is just a slump and not a sign of things to come. If the last event on Earth where fashion trumps mass appeal goes down the same individuality-free, pre-packaged crapper that the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, et al have gone down I honestly don't know what I'm going to write about when there isn't a fashion show happening each Spring.

all photos from zimbio.com


LOla said...

I'm agree with you about all of those looks..but, Charlotte was one of the big disapointment of that night...WTF with those shoes!!!!!!!!!!!

PS: i've notice that you are a Tom ford fan! I wonder if you know the complete soundtrack of the gucci spring summer 2002 collection!
Specially the last song...i want to know the singer of this version of "aint no sunshine"...

Thanks, i love your blog!
From France!!

Spike said...

Thank you!

I wish I did know who sings "Aint No Sunshine" in that Gucci soundtrack. I searched for it a couple of years ago, but there are literally dozens of artists who have covered that song, and I never found the version used in the Gucci show.