Streetwise at the Met Gala

Despite the documentary which recently opened the Tribeca Film Festival, there are still those who aren’t aware of the significance of “the first Monday in May.” Take the clueless Asian tourists who joined the press preview queue yesterday morning thinking it was the line for entrance to the closed museum. Or the countless drivers along Fifth Avenue last evening, who upon seeing the multitudes camped out on the sidewalk leaned out their windows to inquire what was going on. While the Met Gala may still be short on recognition factor as compared with the Oscars, this year it more than made up for it with far superior and daring fashion, as well as with many who got onboard the Manus x Machina theme.

Front of entrance to red carpet

Despite rather inclement weather I decided not to break with tradition thereby celebrating my third Met Ball live from “the other side of the street”. Due to the frustration I felt last year brought about by the jostling, lack of vision and general unease, I decided to switch it up a bit and see how the other half (of the street) lives — instead of positioning myself directly across from the red carpet, I stood across from the tent which houses the approach to the red carpet– the spot where (most of) those arriving by automotive means pull up and eventually alight.

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Arriving early enough (5 p.m.) to secure a space in the “front row” directly behind the barricade was key. The “horse” worked well as a slouch station after my first mostly upright and boring hour. The main problem with this perch was that the window of opportunity to actually see a celebrity is much shorter than it is on the carpet. Since Anna Wintour can apparently make the sun come out (it did so on cue last night right before she arrived at the Gala), I wonder if she could next year use her superpowers to stop traffic on this stretch of Fifth Avenue. I find it endlessly ironic that there’s never a bus when you want one, yet should you wish to view what’s happening across the way, voila! there’s a bus…or four to block your view.

Sarah Jessica Parker with Andy Cohen

Of course, if I were sane I would have just curled up on the couch and watched the red carpet arrivals on E!, chillaxin’ in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn and my feet up. But where’s the fun in that? It’s the roar of the crowd, the agony of “defeet,” the chill in the air and the lack of a bathroom that make this particular ritual memorable.

Cindy Crawford

I stuck it out for over three hours and left just short of Beyonce’s arrival –this I know because I was only about a half a block away when the ear splitting shrieks came. As always, it’s interesting to see who was immediately recognizable, who acknowledged the crowd, and of course, who stayed on fashion theme and who had strayed.

Tommy Hilfiger & Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger

Those who played to, or at least acknowledged the amassed throng included (unbelievably) Anna Wintour (she gave a wave upon arrival just before 6 p.m.), Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Amber Valetta, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alicia Vikander, Tim Cook (of Apple), Ivanka Trump, Vera Wang (with Rita Ora), Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio (very briefly), Tommy Hilfiger, Zendaya with Michael Kors,

Claire Danes & Zac Posen

Bradley Cooper Emma Watson (briefly), Kate Hudson, Claire Danes with Zac Posen, Olivier Rousteing with Cindy Crawford (they actually came out into the street taking photos of the assembled), Katie Holmes, Madonna (first she mooned us as someone adjusted something on her front) and finally Beyonce (so I saw on Twitter).

Adriana Lima

Those who were unforgivably rude included Lady Gaga in 10 inch heels (arriving with Donatella Versace), Demi Lovato, Kim and Kanye (actually the whole Kardashian brood didn’t give the crowd so much as a glance), Kristin Stewart, FKA Twigs with Robert Pattinson, Willow and Jaden Smith and several other members of young Hollywood who clearly thought themselves too cool for school. Heartbreakingly, my longtime crush Derek Jeter couldn’t even muster a wave to the crowd.

Gigi Hadid walks from her car

Surrounded by non-native English speakers, many times I missed the prompt.  How was I supposed to know that “Bean Stealer” was not an impassioned cry for some lost legumes but rather Ben Stiller, or that “Zen” was not a response telling us to all pipe down but instead a call out to Zayn Malik, who along with date Gigi Hadid  get my best dressed couple award.

Kate Hudson

This year’s theme of the handmade versus the machine made could be (and mostly was) readily translated to the feathered, embroidered, 3-D printed (or textural), leathered, laced, pleated, technological (including illuminated clothing), silvered or otherwise metalized and even beaded latex  (Beyonce). Those who did it best and wowed the crowd included Kate Hudson (Atelier Versace), Julie Macklowe (in her robot mirrored jumpsuit), Rita Ora in gray feathered Vera Wang, Karolina Kurkova in a Marchesa “Twitter” dress, Amber Valetta in midnight blue H&M, Claire Danes in illuminated Zac Posen, and Lupita in a luminous pale green Calvin Klein with mile-high hairpiece.

Elon Musk and his mother Maye Haldeman

What made me SMH was some of the bondage gear sported by Nicki Minaj (Jeremy Scott), Madonna (assless Givenchy), and Katy Perry (Prada). I just felt sorry for Hailee Steinfeld in a tragic emerald H&M gown and makeup that made her look like a tired 40-year-old (she’s 19!), as well as nip-slipping Lorde in a low cut Valentino “rainbow light up dress” accessorized with an arm cast and a downturned expression. Selena Gomez also looked miserable in a lackluster look of leather bra over a dishrag dotted slip dress by Louis Vuitton.

Although I didn’t see Zoe Saldana in person she was my co-favorite of the night and the belle of the ball in a may-jeur Dolce & Gabbana strapless gown with heavily embellished floral skirt. Oddly enough, although I’m not usually a fan of Kate Hudson or Atelier Versace, somehow I am loving her totally on-theme gown. Perhaps Donatella used all her good creative juices on this gem leaving sad Gaga with the bondage marionette outfit?

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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