Pretty dress after pretty dress went by on the red carpet outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night — and it was all pretty damn unimpressive.
At left, Giselle at the ball in 2008. At right, her appearance last night. Click to enlarge.
The nice outfits were pretty in unoriginal ways, and the bad ones were generally not so much ugly as they were suffering from certain technical difficulties — mistaken placement of a bow, an error of proportions.
The palette tended heavily towards the neutral — beiges, tans, eggshells, whites, creams, greys, blacks — and what colors there were, were muted. (Christina Hendricks' breast-binding cerulean gown and Rachel Weisz's cutesy hot pink one were among the few exceptions.) Prints? Almost none to speak of, and dull when they did occur. Interesting textures? Carey Mulligan and that reliable fashion trickster Chloë Sevigny each tried lace; their mileage varied. Ralph Lauren paired too-perfectly whiskered blue jeans with his tuxedo jacket, and made himself an example of the kind of high-low look that has become utterly trite. (His wife, Ricky, looked amazing as always in a proper tux, while Alexa Chung's attempt at men's wear fell into overwrought urchin territory.)
Where were the stand-out dresses? Where were the gowns we will remember seeing for years to come? Gisele Bündchen's Versace dress from the 2008 Met ball (above left), was and is and ever shall be stunning; I'm also thinking here of an Yves Saint Laurent dress in a purple print that Elettra Wiedemann wore in 2007, and Kate Bosworth's Prada mini-dress from the same year, and even of that grey silk column dress that Claire Danes wore, which transformed suddenly into a vivid red-orange around the waist. Even the unappealing outfits have often been entertaining or at least interesting — last year, we had Madonna running around in bunny ears, and Leighton Meester in a tunic made from a print fit for a couch out of The Ice Storm. (And matching leggings.) The whole shebang this year seemed very tame by comparison. Like a slow-speed procession of the pretty, the safe, and the conservative, as though the worst thing that could happen would be for any dress to be Too Much. This year, Gisele wore a leather-strap contraption by Alex Wang (above right). She looked about as boring as a supermodel can.
Many stars clung predictably to the brands they represent. Anne Hathaway wore Valentino, Sarah Jessica Parker wore Halston, Marion Cotillard wore Dior, Diane Kruger wore Calvin Klein; while some of them looked nice, this contractual quality quashed any element of surprise. Though we can more or less presume that the rumors Eva Mendes has been replaced as the face of Calvin Klein jeans are true on the basis of her wearing Dolce & Gabbana. Jessica Alba's Sophie Théallet gown was a beautiful and assured take on the 1930s, but the fact that she couldn't walk in it is a disappointment. Amanda Brooks wore something cool, but then again maybe it just stood out because it had sleeves.
Lady Gaga, who should by rights have wowed us all with something fascinating, didn't even bother to walk the red carpet. That left Katy Perry to fly the flag for fashion creativity — and she did it by wearing a battery-powered light-up dress that looked as if it belonged to a raver bride. In 1996. She turned it off before eating dinner.