The Best Dressed at The MET BALL 2011!

03 May 2011

The Costume Institute gala

This weekend has felt like a global celebration of the house of Alexander McQueen, past and future. On Friday we swooned at the sight of our future queen wearing Sarah Burton's dream of a dress at the royal wedding, (get all the details in Grazia's special tribute issue - "Arise McQueen Kate!"- on sale now!) and last night, the annual Costume Institute gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrated the work of the late Alexander "Lee" McQueen himself.

Unlike the all-encompassing themes of previous years ("Model as Muse" "Superheroes" etc),  in theory, the dress code for this year's gala is a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Coco Rocha hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that all of the the best Alexander McQueen dresses...are now on display in the museum's “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition. So this left the A-list scrabbling around for the gowns by the late designer, with many having to resort to wearing dresses by other design houses.

Guest of honour, McQueen creative director Sarah Burton wore her own design, a loose-fitting, ethereal white organza dress that was a far departure from her predecessor Lee's sharp sexy tailoring, perhaps this was a nod to the future direction of the fashion house?

Some celebrities decided to coordinate their outfits with their designer dates for the night, rather than the gala's theme. Kristen Stewart was with Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, who made her dress, a red column with striking black patterns.  

Blake Lively was escorted by M. Karl Lagerfeld, who dressed his new muse in a sari-style draped silver dress from the Chanel A/W 2009 haute couture collection.

Less easy to explain was host Anna Wintour's choice of Chanel for the McQueen-themed event. Her striped sequinned maxi dress, a haute couture creation from Chanel's S/S 11 collection, (to which the editrix had long sleeves added), was a playfully chic look for the red carpet - even if it paid no tribute to the late designer whatsoever. Disgrace? Discuss.

Of course, for the die-hard devotees of Lee McQueen, there was only one label to wear. Sarah Jessica Parker, who has continued to show her support for the late designer, wearing many of his designs over the past 12 months since his death, wore an archive look which was the finale outfit from the A/W 2005 collection - a silver crystal beaded column dress with a high neck and 3/4 length sleeves. Of course, getting hold of original McQueen was easier for some than others.

karen elson mcqueenkaren elson mcqueen

Karen Elson wore the silver gown she had modelled for Lee McQueen in his S/S '04 catwalk show (which makes us wonder: did he gift her the dress afterwards? If so, lucky girl).

Given that there wasn't enough McQueen by Lee McQueen to go around, savvy fashionistas opted for Sarah Burton's new designs for the house instead. Estee Lauder model Hilary Rhoda had nabbed a knockout McQueen look for the night - a white silk puff-shouldered tuxedo coat dress from Burton's Spring 2011 collection, accessorised with lace-up ankle boots and a Britannia clutch bag from the same collection.

Even the event's honorary co-chair, actress Salma Hayek (whose husband Francois Henri-Pinault, chairman of the PPR luxury conglomerate, which owns McQueen) wore a peach organza couture gown by Alexander McQueen, from Burton's pre-S/S'11 collection.  

Naomi Campbell, a close friend of McQueen's, chose a white tulle crystal embroidered McQueen couture gown, created especially for her by Burton (officially now the busiest woman in fashion).

Daphne Guinness also showed her support for Lee McQueen's successor. The model/muse/designer, who earlier in the night had got ready for the gala in the windows of Barney's department store, surrounded by curious fans and onlookers, wore a lilac feathered dress, the finale look from S/S'11 and Bridle booties from A/W '11.

Anna Dello Russo Alexander McQueen Metropolitan Anna Dello Russo Alexander McQueen Metropolitan

Anna Della Russo wore a black duchesse satin tailcoat, white shirt, gold fern embroidered trousers and gold snakeskin boots from current-season McQueen.

Coco Rocha also solved her dress-hunt nightmare by wearing a Burton designed navy dress with feather belt, from the A/W'11 pre-collection, while fellow model Raquel Zimmermann wore a black feather bustier gown from A/W '11.

Jennifer Lopez wore a fuschia dress with a matching shrug strewn with silk flowers by Gucci, where she is currently a spokesmodel. Gucci is owned by the same luxury conglomerate as the house of Alexander McQueen; diplomatically played J-Lo.

Madonna  Stella McCartneyMadonna  Stella McCartneyMadonna  Stella McCartney

Madonna also chose a design by a stablemate label; from her BFF Stella McCartney. The star-embroidered 1930s-style teal satin gown was more Mrs Wallis Simpson (the heroine of her new movie WE), than Mr Lee McQueen, but the superstar looked more beautiful and elegant than she has in a long time, despite having to fix her shoe on the red carpet. Madonna said simply of the late designer; 'I think he was brilliant. I think his designs were brilliant.'

Others chose dresses in the style of Alexander McQueen, created by rival designers (let's try and imagine how that conversation went). Beyonce's mermaid-style black velvet dress with corsetry detailing, heavy gold embroidery and a sharply tailored high neck, was a distinctive nod to McQueen's last ever collection... even if it was actually created by Emilio Pucci designer Peter Dundas.

Saoirse Ronan Rodarte Mulleavy

And there's no doubt that Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters' horror show stylings owe a massive debt of gratitude to the late Lee McQueen, and so actress Saoirse Ronan's choice of a blood-red sharply tailored jacket over a hell-fire sequinned skirt from the Rodarte A/W '11 was an inspired choice.

Leighton Meester Louis VuittonLeighton Meester Louis Vuitton

Leighton Meester, all slicked back hair and S&M caged leather from Louis Vuitton's A/W '11 collection, was also presumably trying to give a hint of McQueen's darker take on sexiness.

As was Mia Wasikowska's black rose embroidered gown, custom-made for the occasion by US designer Thakoon, who joined the actress on the red carpet.

Meanwhile, Miranda Kerr looked set to star in Swan Lake thanks to her ballerina-inspired frock teamed with Nicholas Kirkwood heels.

Gisele Bündchen Alexander McQueen Metropolitan Gisele Bündchen Alexander McQueen Metropolitan

Even more confusingly, were the guests who wore Lee McQueen's designs, but really didn't look like they were. Despite currently fronting Balenciaga's Spring 2011 ad campaign, Gisele Bunchen's look will always be more hottie than edgy. Her scarlet strapless fishtail silk gown may have been modelled by Jessica Stam in McQueen's Hitchcock heroine themed A/W' 2005 show with a redhead ghost-of-Marilyn-Monroe style wig and a beaded cardigan looking sharply sexy but sinister, but on Gisele, all hair and tan and teeth, the look was simply va-va-voom. The model paid tribute to McQueen saying 'I was really just impressed with his genius, his beautiful insanity. He really saw women in such a different way.'

Of course, if all else fails, ditch the dress code and go for whatever will make you look gorgeous -  see: Diane Kruger in beaded body and thigh split skirt by Jason Wu (the nude Chantilly lace top took over 500 hours to embroider by hand, dontcha know).

Michelle Williams InstituteMichelle Williams Institute

And also Michelle Williams in a dramatic black Miu Miu backless dress embroidered with gold swallows.

And spare a thought for the dressing dilemma faced by Jessica Alba, who is currently pregnant - she opted for a custom made Ralph Lauren strapless gown in irridescent silk.

Others stuck to their signature style for the night; such as Penelope Cruz in another black fishtail hem dress, this time from Oscar de la Renta's A/W '11 collection...

...Zoe Saldana looking super-pretty in a minimalist pale yellow strapless Calvin Klein Collection gown, and Solange Knowles keeping it wacky in geometric print Dries Van Noten from A/W '11 gown.

And Alexa Chung kept it British in Christopher Kane, wearing a liquid plastic detailed dress from his A/W'11 collection.

Lily Donaldson also did it for the Brits, looking divine in a floor length navy lace gown from Erdem's S/S '11 catwalk - we're loving that quirky collar.

Meanwhile, some resorted to that reliable fashion fallback - vintage. The Olsen twins wore Givenchy and Dior vintage couture.

Nicole Richie arrived with model Britt Maren and wore an original 1930s bias cut gown (a strong trend of the night).

Stella McCartney

Of course, many designers wore their own designs - Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg and Stella McCartney, among others.

Numbers wise, Stella McCartney and Karl Lagerfeld were the winners, but of course, the night was Lee McQueen's and those who wore his designs well understood the power of his so-called 'Savage Beauty'. Karen Elson's seven year old gown has been loved and worn to death in the intervening years - 'it's falling apart' she told Cathy Horyn of the New York Times who noted that the model sounded "pleased", as she lifted her arm to show off a rip and pointed out the fraying hem.

Elson understands that what she chose to wear last night was not just an exquisite gown, but a piece of fashion history. Long live McQueen.

Keep scrolling for the best of the rest...

Florence Welch Yves Saint Laurent

Florence Welch arrived with Stefano Pilati on her arm, and looked fabulous in an Yves Saint Laurent long draped dress with sheer sleeves in white silk muslin. Flo topped it off with a coat in white organza with feathers, a clutch in grey suede with gold and silver piping and open toe wedge in silver and gold metallic leather.

Dakota Fanning Valentino Metropolitan Elle Fanning Valentino Haute Couture Metropolitan

Dakota Fanning wore a superbly feminine Valentino gown from the S/S '11 collection, while little sis Elle opted for a Valentino Haute Couture look from the A/W'11 catwalk.

Christina Ricci Zac Posen

Christina Ricci wore a corseted gown by Zac Posen, complete with ombre and lace detail, that was the designer's ode to Lee McQueen.

Emma Stone LANVIN Metropolitan

Just as she did for the BAFTA Awards earlier this year, Emma Stone chose an Alber Elbaz creation. The actress accessorised her black and white floral rose print silk-satin strapless Lanvin gown with deep blue crystal drop earrings.

Liv Tyler wore a Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci outfit. WOW.

Crystal Renn arrived in this incredible Zac Posen creation, worn with a bejeweled clutch, bright red lipstick, and an impressive pompadour hair do.

Rihanna In Stella McCartneyRihanna In Stella McCartney

Rihanna flashed her famous curves in a lace Stella McCartney one-sleeve dress, funked up by her long red locks plaited into a side-swept braid.


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