I normally don’t post on a Tuesday, and I’m not exactly a fashion monster (although I did briefly have a men’s fashion column in college, and I was a fashion writer…wait never mind, I’m Donatella Versace) but the 2018 Met Gala, themed: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” so inspired me that I had to write about it.
I was raised Catholic, and while I don’t particularly subscribe to the religion anymore for a multitude of reasons, I find myself heavily influenced by it in my writing. It centers so much on rich, baroque and intricate iconography, which has definitely had an impact on my poetry at the very least, and my love for things gaudy at the very most (I once unironically wore a ton of zebra print). So I was excited about this theme, and I wanted to go through my best- and worst-dressed, or as I’m calling them, my Saints and my Sinners.
First, before the lists, we have to acknowledge God, a.k.a. Rihanna. Her look, Maison Margiela, was encrusted in diamonds and featured a literal pope hat. She was co-hosting the event, so it makes sense that she went the largest, and most literal, with the theme. I find the length of the coat to be slightly off, especially when seen from any point other than head-on, but I love the poofy, balero-style sleeves that she kept adjusting and the dress underneath. I will never, ever forget Rihanna’s Guo Pei dress from the China: Through the Looking Glass Met Gala; she was one of the only people to actually wear Chinese couture, and it just shows how seriously Rihanna takes fashion and the Met Gala.
- Lily Collins, Givenchy:
Along with Hailee Steinfeld, Lily Collins is one of those actresses who’s never really in anything, but is consistently invited to red carpets because they fucking kill it every time. This was, without a doubt, my favorite look. The headpiece invoked the gates and wrought ironwork that you see in old cathedrals, and the dress was both evocative of priests and maintaining a structural simplicity. There were a lot of tears during this Met Gala, but I found that Lily’s, along with SZA’s, were done the cleanest and the best.
- Chadwick Boseman, Versace
Men really get the short end of the stick with red carpets (hello, toxic masculinity) so whenever a man really steps up his game, it’s noticed. However, I think that even if every other man killed it, Chadwick Boseman would still be the absolute top. His Versace look, caped suit, was the perfect blend of edit and ornate. The pants were amazing, but they were almost an accent. My favorite detail was the delicate chain connecting the crosses on his cape and the red-ombre tassels. He looks like a king going to the Vatican for a blessing.
- Priyanka Chopra, Ralph Lauren
I think about Priyanka Chopra roughly four times a year, and I’m so glad that I got to think about her again. Her Ralph Lauren, deep red velvet dress reminded me of confessional booths, and the gold chain hood served to draw the eye upward and made her seem twenty feet tall. She, along with Janelle Monae, also did the smart, and very Catholic, thing of focusing on the face. So much of religious paintings feature women in heavy veils and long dresses, with the most exquisite, often pained, faces.
- Kim Kardashian West, Versace
I hated Kim’s Vivienne Westwood look at last year’s Met Gala. I generally hate when people eschew the themes, because this isn’t an excuse to look pretty. But Kim looked so pretty this year that I don’t mind that this is tangentially on theme. She looks like a golden angel, a celestial honey. Her body is so incredibly snatched, probably painfully so, but she does what she does best: makes a simple dress and simple hair into an event.
- Cardi B, Moschino
Cardi B walked with Moschino designer Jeremy Scott, which is a massive honor. They were matching in heavily brocaded fashion. I actually love Cardi’s dress, because it’s so Catholic to be so fucking extra. The headpiece was perfectly framed around her face, and the stiff neck choker reminded me a lot of Elizabethan collars. I could’ve probably done without the satin side-pieces coming off her waist, but that’s minor. This look, however, was major.
- Zendaya, Versace
Versace won the Met Gala, but Zendaya won Versace, honey. The look, a recreation of Joan of Arc, is perfect. Chain-mail was a big theme this year – thanks, Crusades – but I didn’t see anybody who did it as well as Zendaya. This isn’t surprising; she consistently kills at the Met Gala, but I think I loved this look the best. She has the perfect face for wigs, and this wet, auburn short-bang was perfect. She could’ve just done pretty hair and the dress, but then that would’ve been boring. The Met Gala isn’t just any other red carpet. It. Is. An. Event.
- Tessa Thompson, Thom Browne.
Tessa Thompson is my favorite person on Westworld right now, and I loved how fashion this was. There wasn’t a lack of priest references, but Tessa’s was the most artful with the heavily beaded priest collar. I loved her make-up as well, this very drawn, almost alien concept that looked, frankly, celestial. Her designer was Thom Browne, which is surprising because I would’ve guessed, based on the fabric, that it was Chanel. My only qualm is that I wish the jacket was a cape. The pattern is incredible, but there’s something about having it be a jacket that is slightly pedestrian.
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Ralph Lauren
Rosie was serving FACE at this Met Gala. She is so beautiful that she didn’t detract from it at all. The gown is pretty and all, Ralph Lauren, but I almost wish it was all cape, and completely cloaked her like a Christmas tree topper. What seals the deal for me is the halo; it’s so perfectly pulled back and compliments her golden, dewy skin.
- Janelle Monaé, Marc Jacobs
In a lot of religious iconography, a celestial halo is represented by a broad, gold disc around someone’s head. I’m assuming that this is what Janelle is referencing, and I love it. Focusing on her face, surrounded by a Crusades mail-coif (look it up) and framed by the halo-hat, is smart. She has such a perfect, angelic face. The rest of the outfit is pretty – black and white – but the styling and make-up is what makes this pop for me.
- Greta Gerwig, The Row
Apparently, despite regularly attending the Met, The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen rarely dress celebrities. This, combined with the fact that I love when unexpected people pull off bold concepts, puts Greta within my top ten. This is basically drag: taking something we’ve seen and blowing it up into exaggerated, breathtaking couture. Greta is doing priest drag, and the simplicity of the design, married with its billowing size, is just, simply, fucking cool. She keeps her hair and make-up simple, her jewelry is pared down to a single huge ring, and the effect is remarkably austere for how much of a moment it is.
- Kendall Jenner, Off-White
Remember how I said I hate when people don’t come in theme? This was ignited by Kendall fucking Jenner. She’s a high fashion model who could literally wear anything, and is the darling of every fashion house. The fact that she skipped the theme is only made more infuriating by the fact that she’s not even serving a look. I like how the pants end in that mermaid-esque tail, and I like the covered hands, but it’s a look for a red carpet of a movie you’re not in; it’s not Met Gala. Literally, say a prayer, Kendall, because you have been judged by a Higher Power.
- Katy Perry, Versace
No seriously, why couldn’t you wear a wig, Katy? Weirdly, even though I loved Cardi B’s over-the-top ensemble, this is the wrong direction of over-the-top. It’s far too literal, and looks more like something she’d wear on tour. There’s nothing…bad about it, but it’s just so obvious. Katy is not one for subtlety, and neither are Catholics, so I can’t really describe why this annoys me so much. Actually, I can – it’s because Katy probably thinks she nailed this look. Her delusion annoys me.
- Tom Brady, Versace
He looks like a priest, and not in a good way. He looks like an off-duty parish priest that you’ve run into in your local Barnes & Noble. He’s buying The da Vinci code and it’s surprising because you thought priests couldn’t read that. Fashion-y red carpets are not really built for men, so either go big (Chadwick Boseman) or go home (Kanye). It’s just not…anything. It’s not utterly repulsive or a total show-stopper. It’s bland, and it needs to be done.
- Ariana Grande, Vera Wang
Too literal, and I hated the bow. She’s so angelic and small-looking that she could’ve worn Katy Perry’s wings with a slip dress, and made the whole thing fashion. If the bow was made into a veil, and covered her face in a sheer, diaphanous waterfall, it would’ve been a little better. But the gown wears her, and that’s never the look you want.
- Katharine McPhee, Georges Chakra
Katharine’s only here as the plus-one of David Foster, right? We all agree? Her gown is pretty, but it’s not quite on-theme (or striking enough) to warrant her a spot on the carpet. Maybe if she had done something a little more daring with her hair (either eclipsed by a headdress, or slicked back, or ornately braided) it would be more Met-appropriate. But I’m sure that she’s just happy to be there, and I guess I’m happy that she’s happy.
- Shailene Woodley, Ralph Lauren
Shailene is cool, so this should’ve been cool. It’s not, and I think I know why. This looks like her stylist caught a glimpse of what Zendaya would be wearing, and made Shailene the Party City version. The material looks too shiny and cheap, and it’s evident that she’s wearing a clip-on bang. If the bang had been blunter, and the dress more knight-like and structured, this could’ve been a total bomb outfit. But instead, it’s just a little sloppy and more than a little forgettable. Excited for Big Little Lies, though!
- Rooney Mara, Givenchy
Rooney looks absolutely beautiful in this dress. It’s structural and fits her perfectly, and I love her make-up and hair. The reason she’s a Sinner for me is that the Met Gala is tailor-made for people like Rooney. Particularly with this theme, she has the pared-back and severe beauty to pull off sepulchral and Catholic. It feels like a missed opportunity, even though on any award season red carpet, this would be a 10/10 for me. I’m sad, Rooney.
- Kate Moss, Saint Laurent
I think I don’t like this one because everyone on the E! News round table kept calling it so “fresh” and on “theme.” They had Elaine Welteroth on, so they were doing something right, but overall I find them – Giuliana Rancic, Zanna Roberts Rassi, and Brad Goreski – so tired. Anytime anyone wore a ponytail, they called it “fresh.” Not fresh. Stale, honey, stale. So maybe this is a cute look, but I didn’t find it particularly in theme.
- Mindy Kaling, Vassilis Zoulias
I don’t mind the dress, and I actually love the gloves. It’s the crown that I have a problem with. Not the crown in itself, but the fact that it seems too big for her head. It looks like it’s been photoshopped (badly) into place. I wish she had gone with something that sat a little better on her head.
- Jonah Hill (and basically every man), Unknown
Okay so this is Jonah Hill but I mixed him up with Seth Rogen and fully had “Seth Rogen” written down as my number ten. Jonah is here as a placeholder for every man who just wore a boring tuxedo/suit to the Met Gala. There’s a reason we are so thirsty for men like Chadwick (well, there are a lot of reasons why we’re thirsty for Chadwick but I digress) and it’s because men think they can get away with a suit. No! Also GQ has this weird fascination with Jonah Hill’s fashion and their write-ups of his looks always confuse me. He wore a camel coat with gym shorts and they thought it was revolutionary. Are we looking at the same person??
Purgatory (My “Whatever’s”)
- Olivia Munn, H&M
The look is cute, but I truly don’t understand why Olivia Munn was there. Also while there, she apparently told some news outlet that she got cut on her leg while getting into the dress. And that’s just the kind of quirky little anecdote that makes me annoyed by her.
- Kerry Washington, Ralph Lauren
I loved her hair, and I actually love this dress. I like that it’s not belted or particularly form-fitting, because it looks like literal liquid gold. She’s in Purgatory because her look needs…something. It’s not elevated to the degree that she usually brings to award season red carpets. Something about it feels unfinished, and I’m sorry, Kerry. I love you.
- Blake Lively, Versace
Apparently people loved this, and I do agree that it’s cool, but I don’t understand the boner that people have for Blake Lively. I also don’t find this dress to be particularly in theme; I think it’s just so big and elaborate that people are confused into thinking that this means it’s thematic.