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Met Gala Best and Worst Dressed: An Unconventional Year 

The 2023 Met Gala commenced Monday night, so where do we begin? The unconventional guests, including Brittany Griner, or the night’s theme: Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty? The theme sparked controversy as some are not too keen on Karl, the German designer, who once called Adele “a little too fat,” said he was “fed up” with the #MeToo movement, and once revealed his dislike for short men, saying, “The worst is ugly short men… Don’t trust them; they are mean and want to kill you.” However, Hollywood came and slayed nonetheless. As with any red carpet event, there were major wins and even bigger fails, so here are the gala’s most notable costumes: Anne Hathaway and Dua Lipa had moments in majestic off-white, Nicole Kidman looked washed out, and the Kardashians looked as glam as ever. Read the full article to see some of the hottest and not-so-hot looks at the 2023 Met Gala.

THE CUT: The Best, Weirdest, and Most On-Theme Met Gala 2023 Looks

By Evan Ross Katz; May 2, 2023

It’s time! Time for the 2023 Met Gala or, as Chloë Sevigny put it in 2016, time to “Google all the girls in their crazy gowns and judge them all.” Let’s go!

But first, some table-setting. This year’s Met Gala was deemed controversial from the moment the theme, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” was first announced. In choosing to honor the legacy of the late Kaiser Karl, “a paradox” of a human as once described by Anna Wintour, some couldn’t dissociate the memory of a man who once called Adele “a little too fat” and declared of the Me Too movement that he was “fed up.”

Lagerfeld himself was never one to value reflection, much less regret. “I make an effort not to remember; I don’t have to live in my own dusty past,” Lagerfeld told the Cut in 2018. Still, a great effort was made to keep the museum exhibition, and by proxy the gala, focused less on the artist and more on the artist’s stylistic vocabulary. “We didn’t want to emphasize Karl, the man, who has long been the subject of breathless mythologizing, largely the result of his own self-invention,” remarked Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s Wendy Yu curator in charge, during a Monday morning press preview.

Despite the absence of mainstays like Blake Lively, the event delivered on being the most significant confluence of our shared celebrity galaxy since, well, CinemaCon, which concluded just days earlier. This to say barrages of celebrities aren’t exactly red diamonds these days. And sure, we could align with Tom Ford’s thinking that the gala has devolved into more of a “costume party” than its origins as a midnight supper for New York society. Yet there’s an innate tension between the exclusivity of the Met Gala and the necessity of satisfying the public’s appetite for access that allows the event to maintain its foothold as the biggest night in fashion. So here we are!

Napkin on your lap, fork in hand, it’s time to dig in.

But before we get into the lewks, a moment for the hair. Anne Hathaway. Cardi B. Quinta Brunson. Amanda Seyfried. Keke Palmer. Jessica Chastain. Lily Collins. Shout-out to the glam and the often uncredited artisans who bend over backward to create the opulence.

The biggest theme — outside of the pearls — was the trains: Bad Bunny in Jacquemus; Glenn Close in Erdem Moralıoğlu; Alton Mason; Paris Hilton in Marc Jacobs; Cara Delevingne in Karl Lagerfeld; Michelle Yeoh; J.Lo in Ralph Lauren; Jenna Ortega in Thom Browne; Manu Rios; Nicola Peltz Beckham and Florence Pugh in Valentino; Vanessa Hudgens in Michael Kors; Eva Chen in Fendi; Karen Elson; Anne Hathaway in Versace; Rita Ora in Prabal Gurung; Jeremy Pope in Balmain.

Another major theme: cats. Doja Cat (vaping!) in feline facial prosthetics and wearing Oscar de la Renta. Jared Leto cosplaying as Choupette. Lil Nas X as Choupette in “Detox in All Stars 2” drag? Janelle Monae in custom Thom Browne with a Choupette-inspired bag. Continuing with the Choupette bag trend: Chloe Fineman in Wiederhoeft.

No Gaga. No Beyoncé. No Zendaya. No Sarah Jessica Parker. But we got Rihanna, who arrived expectedly late, very late.

The Best Met Gala 2023 Looks

Rihanna. “It’s Valentino, baby,” she told reporters as she glided onto the carpet in a showstopping Valentino silk-faille dress (with a five-meter train, no less) and cape that included 30 camellias composed of 500 petals. Was it on-theme? Quite, in fact. Camellias are a Chanel signature, a recurring motif in the house’s designs dating back to 1913 when Gabrielle Chanel pinned one to her belt. That Rihanna Met Gala reign just won’t let up.

Michaela Coel in Schiaparelli. ”I’m here to serve,” she proclaimed on the red carpet. And serve she did. I’m never wowed by “celebrity says X amount of crystals went into making this garment,” but 130,000 crystals? The night’s biggest “wow” moment.

Olivia Wilde and Margaret Zhang, both in the Chloé SS83 Violin Dress (later reissued and worn by Chloë Sevigny in 2013). A moment I have to believe would have Karl chuckle.

Karlie Kloss avoiding looking camp straight in the eye in custom Loewe. Tens, tens, tens across the board. I’m suddenly dreaming of an entire Loewe maternity line. Jonathan Anderson, are you listening?

Amanda Seyfried in Oscar de la Renta. She put on her freakum dress and hitched a ride straight from Studio 54 to the carpet.

Kerry Washington in Michael Kors? Consider it handled.

Kristen Stewart in Karl Lagerfeld is very much the “this is what you came for” moment of the night. The white cropped jacket paired with the high-waisted trousers and baby black tie (look No. 5 from that 2016/2017 Cruise collection)?

Jessica Chastain did not come to play in Gucci, giving Emma Frost meets Kristen McMenamy.

Honorable mentions to Pedro Pascal with a hint of leg in Valentino, Russell Westbrook in Bode, FKA Twigs in Maison Margiela, and Olivia Rodrigo in Thom Browne.

The Weirdest

This cockroach.

This Anne Hathaway moment.

David Byrne on a bicycle — we needed the laugh.

Rami Malek looking very Party Down–coded in that I think he might need to stay after to help clean up.

Lil Nas X giving you Renata Klein: “I will not not be [covered in silver crystals]” along with some God-tier trolling.

Taika Waititi. Someone didn’t wear a black tux. Let’s celebrate that! Still, this is deeply unserious — which I’ve come to speculate is the point and can appreciate … to an extent.

The Most Karl Lagerfeld–Esque, a.k.a. On-Theme

Unlike past exhibitions like 2021’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” 2008’s “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,” or 1975’s “American Women of Style,” there would be little room for interpretations. You’re either on-theme — wearing Lagerfeld or an interpretation or homage — or you’re not. Here are the celebrities who nailed it.

Dua Lipa in Chanel FW92. I wish she’d kept the hat from Claudia Schiffer’s original runway appearance, but to quote Law Roach on Legendary: She ate that.

Nicole Kidman wearing the dress from her 2004 Chanel No. 5 commercial: Heartbreak feels good at a place like the Met.

Penélope Cruz in Chanel spring ’88. Gisele Bündchen in Chanel spring ’07 couture. Naomi Campbell in Chanel spring ’10 couture. Yup. Yup! Yup!!

Rachel Brosnahan in Sergio Hudson referencing Karl’s Chloé era? Understanding the assignment deserves recognition.

Simu Liu and Ke Huy Quan dressed as the man himself.

Olivier Rousteing with a bag that hilariously read, “Where’s Karl?” Lily Collins in a dress with the word KARL imprinted on the train and Jeremy Pope making sure he would not go unnoticed with a gigantic cape imprinted with Lagerfeld’s iconic silhouette. Diane von Furstenberg in a dress that looked like a New York Times crossword puzzle where every answer is “Karl.” As tributes go, this one made sure you never forgot who was at the center of it all.

Was it the most exciting night of fashion? Far from it — more a reminder that the Met was never built to be a spectacle for us. And though it’s been mythologized, much in the same way Bolton described the self-curated myth of Lagerfeld, maybe the Met’s foothold on the Zeitgeist deserves a shake-up. If we got Beyoncé every year, we’d miss out on the rare moment of society collectively coming together to be mad about the same thing.

Photo: Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

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