The Met Gala Ball in New York is THE invitation of the year.
It is always the prelude to The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York’s major costume exhibition.
This year it is China: Through the Looking Glass exploring the impact of the western trade with China down through the centuries.
It showcases haute couture and avant-garde ready to wear costume, a ‘forever changing and eternal form of human expression’ alongside Chinese art.
The objective is to explore how the arts and film have influenced fashion design in the west for centuries.
This coveted night of nights is always a chance to go over the top, and this year was no exception.
With a theme such as this, it is easily open to interpretation, something designers love.
Many a celebrity could be seen channeling their “crouching tiger, hidden dragon”.
For some this was fabulous, others it fell short and for some, well, lets just say it was a little bit too “kung fu fighting”!
Sumptuous colours such as rich red, opulent gold and grand jade green are all part of the palette associated with China.
These evoke feelings of power and strength.
In contrast delicate floral and fine fan prints can be a delicate touch to evening wear.
Who wouldn’t want to let their imagination run wild with their imaginative dreams of the Orient.
To keep just on the right side of “costume” is a tricky thing, and unfortunately there were more than a few misses on the red carpet for me.
It can be a fine line, especially when the theme is cultural.
So who do I believe got it right?
Well my pick for look of the night was Bee Shaffer wearing Alexander McQueen.
Anna Wintour’s daughter looked divine in a fabulous interpretation of far east fashion.
The colour and shape sublime and the print, just perfection from every angle.
Emily Blunt in Prada was simply stunning.
A gorgeous navy cape over a lovely lilac beaded column shape worked beautifully on her.
Some may say Georgia May Jagger was borderline costume in Gucci, but I loved it.
You could put her in a chicken chow mien box and I’d still love her!
I loved Olivia Munn’s gown, black to red to white, it had such a softness about it.
Caroline Trentini was divine in Atelier Versace.
It had just a hint of a cheongsam then the addition of full skirt from the thigh that kept it from looking too “Chinese”.
Alexa Chung in purple Erdem nailed it.
The addition of pale Tiffany blue shoes was fabulous, and her make up was to die for.
Poppy Delevinge in Marchessa, Amal Clooney in Maison Margiela and Jess Hart went down the red road, which suited them all perfectly.
Just enough of a reference to the theme to keep it tasteful.
Helen Mirren followed suit and proved yet again age is but a number, she always rocks a red carpet!
Go Dolce and Gabanna!
Carey Mulligan in Balenciaga and Maggie Gyllenhall in Roland Mouret stood out from the crowd, in a good way.
Simple silhouettes always shine.
Then we have the true peacocks of the night, Beyonce`, Kim Kardashian West and Jennifer Lopez.
All went sheer, but only JLo came close to nailing it for me.
Restrained enough and with a dragon theme and rich red hue, it saved her from being “undressed”.
Queen B didn’t leave a lot to the imagination, either did KK. Rule number one, if you do sheer, don’t do it all over.
That’s called naked! I really don’t see how these looks reference the theme of the night.
Rihanna does what she always does best, and that’s make a grand entrance.
The yellow was way too much for me, a little too big bird.
And then there are the ones who thought it was a fancy dress party.
Tabitha Simmons, Karen Elsom and seen here in triplicate Karolina Kurkov (who last year was one of my best dressed) look like they had all raided the wardrobe department of the “Last Emperor”.
And Chloe Sevingy in J.W. Anderson, always quirky, may have just gone a little too far east. I can’t quite decide.
Kris Jenner looked great in red, but it was a little to Joan Collins in Dynasty and Anne Hathaway’s gold hooded Calvin Klein just didn’t work for me.
Carolyn said her favourite was the very simple ‘blue and white’ playing on the colours that were favoured in Chinese porcelain wares down the centuries. It was worn by Ivanka Trump; combining both grace and beauty.
On the other hand I do usually adore anything Sarah Jessica Parker puts on.
However the Phillip Treacy head piece went just a touch too far for me.
At least we could say it was interesting, and there was more than a few yawns on the red carpet.
But the final nod goes to Vogue’s Grace Coddington.
She opted for comfort, cheekily stepped out in dark blue silk Chinese pyjamas.
I simply can’t imagine anyone else being able to get away with this.
Brilliant in my book!
So where will next years Met Gala transport us?
Don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to find out!
Jo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015