The Metropolitan Costume Institute Gala

The annual Costume Institute Benefit gala held at the MET in New York attracts the Fashion elite; from models to actresses and designers and is potentially the one event a year that Anna Wintour remains at for more than fifteen minutes (as, in this case, she was the host). This year the gala was themed and, in tribute to, Alexander McQueen.

Many of the high profile guests therefore fittingly chose to wear McQueen’s designs from throughout the years to honour the iconic British designer. These were notably Karen Elson in a silver gown she had worn modeling for McQueen in his S/S ’04 show, Sarah Jessica Parker (a close personal friend of McQueen who had accompanied him to last year’s gala) and Gisele wearing a show-stopping, strapless red gown presented in the A/W 2005 ‘Hitchcock heroine’ themed catwalk show. 

The night was also however, a celebration of a new Fashion giant and McQueen figurehead – Sarah Burton. After the overwhelming reaction and success of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress the designer has affirmed her position as one of the world’s most sought after designers – this demonstrated most clearly through the number of guests wearing her designs.

Naomi Campbell had a touch of Royal treatment with a personalized dress by Burton (how does she find the time?) while Hilary Rhoda and Salma Hayek wore dresses from Burton’s S/S ’11 collection for McQueen.

Controversial fashion choices of the night include Burton’s white gown with some perceiving it as a statement for the new direction of the McQueen brand image: floaty and ethereal as opposed to the attention to tailoring and definite structuring McQueen has previously been made famous for.

Another controversial look was US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour’s Chanel S/S ’11 dress which was perceived a distasteful choice at an event to celebrate the work of McQueen. Particularly tentative perhaps because of the back lash caused by the decision to host the ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition in at the MET in NYC rather than the V&A in London.

Despite a large number of guests wearing dresses by other designers, the majority chose those which best fitted McQueen’s style and vision, Leighton Meester’s caged leather Louis Vuitton dress and Christina Ricci’s theatrical, corseted Zac Posen gown best representing these. 

The fact that a younger generation of designers – Thakoon and Zac Posen as well as the likes of Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney and Chanel are designing items with a vision inspired by McQueen, illuminates his continued effect upon and presence within the fashion world, which at the hands of Sarah Burton can only expand and flourish.

Written by Sophie Cowling


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