It was not your average night at the museum. Some 600-odd guests—a list as gilded and varied as to include Olsens Mary-Kate and Ashley, Henry Kissinger, George and Amal Clooney, Kelly Slater and Beyoncé—wound their way through the red-carpet tumult tonight (louder and more boisterous than ever, spurred on, perhaps, by the unseasonably warm evening and the high concentration of star value present) and into the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s entrance hall, dominated for tonight only by a gigantic chinoiserie vase created entirely by white and blue roses.
Up the grand staircase lined by fragrant, verdant bamboo they walked, past Vogue staffers clad in pale jade and lapis–toned Michael Kors pajamas, custom-made for the event; the biggest and boldest night on fashion’s calendar—the Met Gala.
“It is about cultural interaction, the circuits of exchange through which certain images and objects have migrated across geographic boundaries. . . . It points to the aesthetic importance of exploring all the products of our cultural fantasies,” read a plaque in one of the three floors of galleries taken over by “China: Through the Looking Glass“—some 30,000 square feet representing the past 300 years of Western fashion and several millennia of Chinese history, Andrew Bolton explained at the morning’s press conference—the largest in the Met’s history, put on with the help of honorary chair Silas Chou and cochairs Jennifer Lawrence, Gong Li, Marissa Mayer, Wendi Murdoch, and Anna Wintour.
“Ladies, ladies!” Kanye West called after the departing figures of his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and Jennifer Lopez as they walked into the fete. (There was a resulting iPhone photo-op involving two very similar dresses and two singularly appreciated rear views.)
Inside the exhibition, Julianne Moore admired a Lucite field of bamboo shielding Craig Green’s designs. “It’s so breathtaking, really,” said Moore. A headdressed Sarah Jessica Parker (“It’s fashion with a capital ‘F,’” said her date, Andy Cohen) took in a selection of qipaos before admiring the calligraphy room, housing a pair of dresses by Dior and Chanel, respectively.
A demurely sequined Cher was squired by her date, Marc Jacobs, into the cocktail party in the Temple of Dendur, where George and Amal Clooney mugged affectionately under Mario Testino’s lens and Sienna Miller and Taraji P. Henson received praise for their roles in Cabaret and Empire, respectively. Kendall Jenner shimmied for Olivier Rousteing, the pair both clad in thick lozenge-like crystal embroidery, while Justin Bieber, in sunglasses and dragon-embroidered blazer, looked on.
As the party made way for dinner, Jared Kushner had his hands full. “I’m following her around all night; she’s being paid to clean the floor,” said Kushner with a wink of his wife, Ivanka Trump, and her crowd-parting navy and white train. Gilles Mendel nodded in solidarity, “It looks beautiful now, these long trains, but you should see the dresses once we get them back.” Dinner led to a surprise performance by a late-arriving Rihanna (clad in a commotion-causing fur-lined marigold-coloured robe by Chinese designer Guo Pei) and a raucous dance party: Bad news for the trains, maybe, but if we learned anything tonight, it’s that fashion has a way of rising above.