What I Get Excited to See at the Met Gala

What I Get Excited to See at the Met Gala

The Met Gala stands out in my mind from other similarly swanky fetes for this reason: it’s about the fashion. Awards shows are about the honorees, film festivals are about the films; but the Met Gala's raison d'etre is the clothes. That, combined with the fact that so many from the fashion world are in attendance makes the Met Gala a prime opportunity for unapologetic fashion experimentation. This year, the invitation to experiment seemed particularly pronounced considering the evening's honoree, Rei Kawakubo, a towering figure in the realm of the fashion avant-garde. 

The Costume Institute's spring 2017 exhibition will examine the work of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability. 

- Description of "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between" via The Met

Despite my complicated relationship with red carpets and the interaction between fashion and celebrity, I look forward to the Met Gala every year for just this reason: I love seeing the daring souls who side-step an expected or classically beautiful red carpet ensemble and instead capitalize on the chance to take a bit of a risk (and have a little fun) with their look. Interestingly, as I was compiling the images for this piece, I kept thinking how closely this probably resembles a "worst dressed" list. In fact, I could just see my younger self not getting these looks and wondering why these women didn't pick something more conventional. With time, as I've grown to appreciate how powerful unique forms of sartorial self-expression are, I've come to see these atypical looks as courageous. Bold! Daring! And I have come to admire the women who opt for the non-traditional despite the pressure that comes with attending such a high-profile and widely-photographed event.

Here are the women whose choices stood out to me this year.

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The Experimentalists 

These are the bold ladies who went for it, no holds barred. 

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Rihanna in Comme des Garçons

The patron saint of red carpet risks wearing the patron saint of fashion risks is nothing short of a match made in haute couture heaven. 

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Solange in Thom Browne

Oh Solange, how you consistently excite and challenge us. Way to be and thank you for existing. 

Photo: Getty / Jamie McCarthy

Photo: Getty / Jamie McCarthy

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Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren

I didn't see this coming. When it did in fact arrive, I immediately asked the question that I know you immediately asked too: WHY DON'T ALL TRENCHES LOOK LIKE THIS? 

Photo: Reuters 

Photo: Reuters 

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Tracee Ellis Ross in Comme des Garçons

Plain and simple: nailed it. 

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

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Katy Perry in Margiela

This ensemble was certainly emblematic of Kawakubo's ethos. I have to admit I didn't love it, but that didn't stop me from appreciating Ms. Perry's boldness for wearing it. 

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

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Helen Lasichanh in Comme des Garçons

Internet memes hold your horses. Nothing honors Rei Kawakubo as much as one of her designs on the red carpet forcing us to question our expectations of what our clothes should do for us. 

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstoc

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstoc

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Lily Aldridge in Custom Ralph Lauren Collection

Proof that accessory experimentation is a perfectly valid way to push the fashion boundary. 

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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The Traditionalists

These ensembles might not have been as experimental as those above, but they were undoubtedly the most beautiful of the evening (to me) and that counts for something.

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Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in The Row

I actually stopped breathing for a moment upon seeing this embroidered fur-lined cape. And the necklaces on Mary Kate. It's all so good. 

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

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Zendaya in Dolce & Gabbana

This is chinoiserie-ish enough for me to love it for the print alone, let alone this gorgeous silhouette. 

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

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Zoe Kravitz in Oscar de la Renta

How absolutely, positively beautiful. This pink! That train! And something fluffy that appears to be feathers. A dream dress if ever there was one!

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

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At its best, the Met Gala celebrates what is possible in fashion. It acknowledges the beauty of creation, and the significance of fashion as an art form. Which is why it's so great when the attendees do the same. 

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