Thursday, May 10, 2007

Better than the Oscars

Monday night the Metropolitan Museum of Art held its annual Vogue-sponsored product-placement fund-raising orgy, otherwise known as the Costume Institute gala. I love this event because celebrities, models and socialites of every class and list, many escorted by designers, converge on the red carpet in their own interpretations of the very highest fashion. Anna Wintour, Bitch Goddess of Vogue, is the hostess, after all.

This event is just what I needed to get me out of the clothes-deprived slough of despond/black hole of employment litigation I’ve been struggling through lately.

This year the Gala was in celebration of the opening of the Costume Institute’s Poiret exhibit. Paul Poiret was a Belle Époque designer often credited with getting women out of their corsets. His clothing was often exotic, inspired by the Orientalism popular at the time. Poiret also lived extravagantly, designed for the Ballets Russe, invented the brassiere, made flesh-colored hose popular, went out of style after WWI, died in poverty and was mostly forgotten.
Very often the women attending the Gala pick up the theme of the exhibition in their dresses, like all the women who appeared dressed in the Union Jack at last year’s British fashion exhibition. This year, very few women attempted to dress in Poiret-inspired tunics or hobble-skirts, which is a shame, because if they had then there’d be an excuse for the general craziness, not to mention the tackiness, of many of the outfits this year. If I were the ghost of Paul Poiret, I’d feel dissed, but I’m not, so I’m thoroughly amused. There’s nothing like a bad outfit on a rich and beautiful woman to make me think that there’s justice in this world.

Exhibit Number 1: Kirsten Dunst in vintage Yves St. Laurent. I think the feather duster, or whatever (even the pictures are poorer this year) tied to her head is supposed to be a tribute to Poiret headbands, but basically, she just looks insane.

Scarlett Johansson in another breast-abusing dress by Stella McCartney. Given that Ms. Johansson’s poitrine is considered a national treasure by a large number of American men, some among them should really organize to protect her precious assets from designer mishandling. Gosh, I can see them now, the dedicated troupe of ScarJo’s Rack Rangers.

I also think that Scarlett ought to reconsider her friendship with Stella McCartney. No good friend would dress a shortish, curvy pal in a slightly-too-tight puff ball of a dress and then make her walk down the red carpet next to supermodel Amber Valletta who's wearing a long white column by that same "friend".

Miuccia Prada, in her own design. Sicilian widow from the waist up, Ballet Russes prima ballerina from the waist down. Love the shoes, hate the schizophrenia.

Charlotte Gainsbrough in Balenciaga. Balenciaga is the sponsor of the exhibition, so I hope that Charlotte got her dress for free. Lord only knows where her toeless platform ski boots came from.

Ellen Barkin in L’Ren Scott. The Fug Girls have already given her wrinkled satin waiter’s outfit the once-over, but what got me about his picture is her face. Ellen, just back away from the Botox, please!

Amanda Peet, Sally Singer and Stella Tennant in elasticized support hose. It’s a pity that such young, elegant women all suffer from varicose veins, isn’t it? (Translation: I hate the look of opaque tights with a light formal dress.)

Molly Sims in Armani Prive and Lauren Davis in Nina Ricci. If these dresses were made for the annual toilet-paper couture contest, I’d be really impressed. As it is, I’m left wonder why Ms. Davis would chose a dress that makes her look like she has wings sprouting from her behind.

Kelly Ripa in something-or-other. I hate it when women wear dresses the same color as their skin, especially when that color resembles nothing found in nature.
Of course, some women who attended the Gala looked just grand. As soon as I’ve found my happy place again, I’ll tell you about my favorites. FYI, has 155 photos from the red carpet.