The term “fundraising benefit” hardly conjures up expectations of glitz and glamor and yet the Costume Institute Gala, more commonly referred to as the Met Gala or the Met Ball, is the embodiment of just that. Each year the event celebrates the debut of the annual fashion exhibit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and raises money for the Costume Institute.
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and the single most powerful person in the fashion industry, began chairing the event in 1995 and over the years has transformed the fundraising benefit into “fashion’s biggest night out.”
The guest list is filled with celebrities, designers and other interesting creatives who are encouraged to dress according to the theme of the night (set by the exhibit that is premiering) or at the very least to embrace Fashion with a capital F. Unlike other major red carpet events, there is much lower propensity to play it safe and a much higher expectation to celebrate the artistry of fashion.
The 2018 Costume Institute exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” looks at the influence of Catholic imagery on the world of fashion. Papal robes and religious art, some never before seen outside the Vatican, will be displayed alongside works by John Galliano for Christian Dior and the last collection designed by Gianni Versace, inspired by the mico-mosaics of Ravenna Cathedral.
It is encouraged, though not required, to dress according to the theme (and it can prove difficult depending on the designer Anna Wintour assigns to dress you) but this year’s theme proved extremely inspiring with a significant amount of the attendees donning Papal inspired frocks and headpieces that are having us keep an eye out around NYC for any Joseph-and-the-Technicolor-Dreamcoat-esque wellings or similar drama.
In the midst of all this religious imagery there were still plenty of flowers used in creative and interesting ways: from angelic crowns to lush floral prints to gothic bouquets. Here are a few of the best flower uses from this year’s Met Gala.
Amal Clooney in Richard Quinn
Co-chair of the event and one of the first people to walk the red carpet, Amal set the bar for drama on fashion’s biggest night in a Queen Elizabeth II approved ensemble.
Amanda Seyfried in Prada and H.Stern jewelry
A delicate, gold, floral belt completed Seyfried’s yellow goddess frock.
Hailey Baldwin in Tommy Hilfiger
Baldwin chose to finish off her simple Tommy Hilfiger dress with a crown of white flowers, lending an angelic quality that was right on theme.
Salma Hayak Pinault in custom Altuzarra
Why settle for a mere floral print when you can wear the entire Garden of Eden?
Jasmine Sanders in H&M
We know you’re not supposed to gild a lily, but Sanders proved that once you’ve gilded yourself, there’s still room for some rose adornment.
Madonna in Jean Paul Gaultier
There was no doubt that the “Like a Prayer” singer, who also performed at the event, would opt for a gothic take on Catholic imagery. From her black dress to the black roses she carried on the red carpet, Madonna easily maintained her Met Gala bonafides.
Frances McDormand in Valentino
Are they petals? Feathers? Little origami cranes? Only Frances knows, but we can answer this: are they fabulous? You betcha.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Ralph Lauren
One of the better Virgin Mary homages of the night, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley complemented her simple headpiece with a delicate, golden floral accented gown complete with cape.
Winnie Harlow in Tommy Hilfiger
A lot of people interpreted Catholicism with headpieces, but Harlow’s orchid inspired headdress put her “ahead” of the competition.
Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello
While the dress might be reminiscent of Rihanna’s 2011 Met Gala look, the black, floral lace provided a gothic glamour perfect for this year’s theme.
Gigi Hadid in Atelier Versace
The flower inspired stained glass effect of Gigi Hadid’s gown proved a unique take on the night’s theme.
But the award for best use flowers for the night goes, as it does every year, to the museum itself. Each year Raul Àvila and his team transform the Met’s great hall into a florally adorned work of art in line with the year’s theme. This year Àvila took inspiration from a jeweled crown (technically a tiara) owned by Pope Pius IX. The resulting masterpiece was made up of 80,000 gold and silvery-white roses to match the tiara and jewel-toned plexliglass to mimic the jewels. The actual tiara is on display as part of the “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition, running until October 8, 2018.