Notes on The Costume Institute Exhibition

On The Red Carpet…

Anna Wintour
All photos: Copyright 2012 Randy Brooke
(Click on image for larger version)

Miuccia Prada does not like to be photographed – or so it would seem. The trailblazing designer discreetly and stealthily sped across the red carpet up the stairs and into the museum entrance, not pausing once for a photo-op. On Monday May 7, 2012, the Costume Institute Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrated the opening of Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations – a retrospective exhibition that explores the likenesses between Italian designers and Miuccia Prada and the late Elsa Schiaparelli, both pioneers of “ugly chic.”

Miuccia Prada

Prada, the honoree of the evening arrived just seconds after Anna Wintour — who smiled and took her time walking the red carpet and posing for pictures. Vogue’s leader looked glam and polished in a streamline, long white Prada dress and a fur capelet. Prada updated Elsa Schiaparelli’s 1937 Dali painted lobster dress by incorporating a lobster motif that was embellished with chunky amber jewels and gold detailing – which proved to be a trend on the red carpet. In fact, gold beading, sequins and embroidery shimmered on several of the gala’s gorgeous guests including: Cameron Diaz; Camille Belle and socialite, Bianca Brandolini d’Adda.

A misty rain fell on Fifth Avenue which was jam-packed with people caged in by police barricades desperately trying to catch a glimpse of celebrities and fashion “A-listers.” Their screams indicated big arrivals like; Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Tom Brady and Giselle or Tim Tebow. But the crowd remained quiet when someone a little more obscure and fashion-oriented stepped onto the carpet.

Cary Mulligan

I, for one, was thrilled by Suzy Menkes’ fun fascinator and I was excited to see Hamish Bowles in a bright magenta, square patterned tonal jacquard tuxedo jacket, but the crowd was pretty silent. It helped a little that Bowles’ date for the evening was young actress Lena Dunham — the break out star of the new HBO show, Girls. Dunham was wearing an emerald green satin Wes Gordon gown and pink Louboutin shoes.

Milla Jovovich

Obviously, a large number of celebrities were wearing Prada which only seemed fitting, but I was disappointed there weren’t more hats on the red carpet paying homage to the great Schiaparelli. Model and actress, Milla Jovovich dazzled in a red satin dress with gladiator-like strips of studded fabric, a la Prada’s Fall 2009 collection. Actress Carey Mulligan was one of my favorites of the evening. The fashion-savvy Brit wore a gold and silver, slightly A-line Prada shift dress made up of graduated sized metallic paillettes — very futuristic yet sexy and chic.

Diane Kruger

Others to proudly wear Prada included: actress Diane Kruger in a gorgeous flowing iris colored dress decorated with dyed ostrich feathers at the hem; actress Kate Bosworth in an ombre feathered mini halter dress and actress Jessica Biel in a very feminine, ivory color fitted deep v-neck dress embellished with green beadwork forming tiny diamond shapes. And then there was Gwyneth Paltrow in a short little silver “Judy Jetsoneque” number that showed a lot of skin – she looked unbelievable and she is probably the only person who can get away with revealing a little “side boob.”

Rooney Mara

Model Coco Rocha was a stand-out not only because she was wearing pants, but brightly colored pants. The lanky Rocha chose a vintage Givenchy canary yellow silk suit that she wore with a “Schiaparelli Pink” top. She said that she had fun coloring the lower portion of her curled tresses to match. One of the most anticipated dresses of the night was actress Rooney Mara’s. Mara, who has been called “a fashion designer’s dream,” seems partial to Givenchy and the actress went with Riccardo Tisci yet again in a sheer black lace dress baring one shoulder and baring most of her legs – there was a very short under piece covering just the right parts. Model Gisele Bündchen was another starlet who joined “Team Tisci.” Bündchen was beautiful in a black fitted and heavily beaded Givenchy Haute Couture dress.

Rachel Feinstein Currin & Marc Jacobs

It seems that everyone, whether they’re a fashion lover or not, knows Marc Jacobs. Marc took the evening’s event as an opportunity to once again push the fashion envelope by donning a sheer black lace Commes de Garcon dress. His “tighty whities” and his sculpted pecs were both easily detectable. I heard him say to someone nearby, “Fashion is expression. There are no fashion faux pas — not if you are true to yourself.” Words to live by. Marc’s date for the evening was artist Rachel Feinstein Currin who wore a black Marc Jacobs dress and one of those magnificent Stephen Jones fur hat creations for Marc’s Fall 2012 collection.

Karolina Kurkova

Tom Ford has also become somewhat of a recognizable face outside the world of fashion. Tom looked great as usual and his date, model Chanel Iman, was radiating haute couture in a black and white Ford creation. Another stunning beauty, and perhaps the most photographed of the night, was Karolina Kurkova wearing an open back, rose gold sequined Rachel Zoe dress and matching turban-like headband. Styling is Zoe’s specialty and she used Kurkova’s statuesque figure to help turn a fairly simple design into something amazing.

Although actress Rene Zellweger didn’t exactly take any fashion risks, she looked absolutely amazing in her custom Pucci. It may have taken her an inordinate amount of time to climb the stairs since she couldn’t move her legs in the black ultra form fitted gown, but it was worth it. Black can be tricky on the red carpet, but actress Rosario Dawson made it work in a Calvin Klein floor length, sleeveless leather dress with a funnel collar. And Bergdorf’s Linda Fargo wore an exquisitely embroidered black Naeem Khan cape which was definitely a show stopper.

The peplum proved to be a trend with a bit of staying power. Actress January Jones’ Atlelier Versace and Solange Knowles’ Rachel Roy dresses were both bright yellow and both had peplum treatments. Actress Eva Mendes donned a strapless orange peplum dress by Prada. Sofia Vergara’s pretty strapless Marchesa dress had a cascading peplum and model Linda Evangelista’s peplum surrounded the waist of her simple black column dress.

Tiny actress Christina Ricci was nearly swallowed up by the gigantic bow on her Thakoon ensemble proving that bigger isn’t always better — but in Zac Posen’s case it is. The extravagant designer’s dusty mauve strapless creation for actress Amber Heard had a sizeable train that was worked into a paper mache-like sculpture gently resting on the back. And his midnight blue gown for actress Leslie Bibb was enormous. Still, she moved about quite gracefully with volumes of fabric and even navigated the entire staircase by herself. The tall slender blonde was a force to be reckoned with.

Anja Rubik

While several people tripped up the last step before reaching the top platform (those dresses can be a handful!), more people tripped over their tongues when model Anja Rubik walked by. The slim and strikingly beautiful Rubik wore an ivory silk dress, by Anthony Vaccarello, that was sliced and diced across the middle and up the side. This dress blew away Angelina’s right leg. The slit went so high that the model’s hip bone was exposed and it made us wonder, “Where were her panties?” Hey, if you got it, flaunt it! Its fashion not rocket science, have a little fun. And speaking of fun, the Clarins girls — all four decked out in Thierry Mugler – looked flirty, theatrical and tall!

As the evening moved along, the big names still had yet to grace the red carpet. L’Wren Scot and Mick Jagger showed up – she towered over him and his black sneakers. SJP arrived and she was covered head to toe in floral printed Valentino. Actress Elizabeth Banks wearing a not-so-flattering peplum ensemble by designer, Mary Katrantzou, hurried up the stairs and answered with a stern, “No” when one reporter asked for a quick comment. Poor Brooke Shields hobbled with a cane, but still managed to look pretty and somewhat graceful. Where was Rihanna? And Beyonce?

Suddenly, mass hysteria broke out on Fifth Avenue and Rihanna stepped into the spotlight. Though she looked glamorous and very haute couture in a backless long sleeve, black Tom Ford crocodile textured dress, I was hoping for something a little more. Rihanna has been a fashion risk taker and I thought that she would have been a little more daring at the Met Gala.


So, now it was up to Beyonce to “save the day.” And she was going to make us wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, Beyonce showed up and she delivered the drama — her Givenchy Haute Couture dress was sheer, beaded and featherd – just what the fans wanted. While it may not have been the best dress of the night, it seemed like Riccardo Tisci was the man of the hour — and Miuccia was definitely the woman of the evening.

– Stacy Lomman



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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