Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

“The Garden of Time” Met Gala Theme Results in Manifold Interpretations

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Zendaya poses at the Met Gala.

This year’s Met Gala proved to be a bit of a doozy: for some, looks were interpreted within the theme of this year’s exhibit, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” vague in and of itself. For others, the theme of the Gala, “The Garden of Time,” became the main point of reference.

Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, has since apologized for the confusion between theme and exhibition, where she referenced a conversation with Andrew Bolton, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute curator: “I said, ‘What are we going to say to people to wear to this night?’ And he said, ‘Well, what about ‘Garden of Time?’ So I fear that we have unleashed a lot of confusion out there. And for which I deeply apologize, I imagine we’ll see a lot of flowers, a lot of flowers.” And flowers we did see, including on Wintour herself.

Zendaya was, not shockingly, a star of the night. As one of the five co-chairs of the event, alongside Wintour, Chris Hemsworth, Bad Bunny, and Jennifer Lopez, she graced us with two looks, brilliantly alluding to both the museum’s upcoming exhibit and the gala’s theme. Both were by John Galliano, the first was the stunning iridescent gown, adorned with shimmering fineries that evoked the natural world. The second proved to be a stark contrast: 1996 Givenchy couture, with an elegant long train and a large floral headpiece that looked like a bouquet askew on her head.

One look I can’t seem to get out of my head, for better or worse, is Gigi Hadid’s custom Thom Browne dress, which appears to fall off as if a suit jacket were sliding down her knees. If this year’s exhibit insinuates that silhouettes of runways past are reimagined and the only part of her dress that has a classic elegance is the corset top, I’m afraid I don’t get it. Lea Michele falls into a similar boat, although she would probably float with the sheer amount of blue tulle in her wake. 

A well-executed homage to archival shapes came with Chloë Sevigny; the layers and textures of her cream-colored, Victorian-inspired gown are to die for. Granted, Sevigny has been to 10 or so Met Galas, so it’s no surprise that she was showstopping and dressed to an impressive detail, down to the traditional “Victorian mourning hair.” Interestingly, she opted to interpret “The Garden of Time” more along the lines of decay and rebirth rather than the artificiality insinuated by floral themes.

My side of the internet has been endlessly raving about Tyla’s custom Balmain dress/sculpture, including an iridescent layer of sand resting on her shoulders. As much as I loved this look, it’s not lost on me that the exhibit means to highlight the preservation of fashion, and Tyla had to be cut out of her dress, meaning it won’t be preserved. 

Mindy Kaling wore a similar interpretation of time as sand in an hourglass, in a very architectural gown by Gaurav Gupta. So, it seems that Dune-couture is in this season: Emma Chamberlain’s brown, swampy Jean Paul Gaultier dress was gorgeous, as were Kendall Jenner in Givenchy, Ashley Graham in Ludovic de Saint Sernin, and — need I mention —Lana Del Rey in Alexander McQueen. 

Red carpet menswear can often be a hit or miss. A definite miss of the night was Troye Sivan in Prada — if you know, you know. Lil Nas X surprised us by being fully clothed, as opposed to the silver body paint of last year. Regardless, his playfulness and poise is always greatly appreciated in a world of black suits and, apparently, bedazzled turnip lapels, like we saw from Mike Faist. Usher in Alexander McQueen was also a showstopper in comparison to some others; plus, I love a boot with a pointed toe.

Andy Cohen joined Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City, and something was certainly amiss in both of their looks. For one, Cohen’s pants could use a trip to the tailor. He was indistinguishable from paparazzi snapping photos, and Parker, in a bell-shaped Richard Quinn dress, might as well have been one of the white roses on the hedges.

A final look worth noting was Harris Reed, a young designer and creative director at Nina Ricci who will certainly be leaving a mark. They designed and wore a silk pantsuit, topped with a three-dimensional corset alluding to the moon, and a large, blue halo adorned with golden birds and flowers with black arrows pointing out in every direction.

Every year, with more and more vivacity, the internet explodes with remarks about how dystopian the Met Gala is. It’s an event about spectacle, catered to celebrities and for people to talk about celebrities, although once framed more as a fundraising event for the museum. On Monday, May 6, as Israel initiated an assault on Rafah, pro-Palestine activists demonstrated merely blocks away, and social media was a disheartening back-and-forth between dazzling looks and abhorrent violence.

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