Kim Kardashian arrives at the In America: An Anthology of Fashion themed Met Gala in New York. Reuters
Kim Kardashian shut down the Met Gala red carpet on Monday in one of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic dresses, a gold-beaded body hugger Monroe wore when she sexily sang happy birthday to President John F. Kennedy 60 years ago.
Kardashian had to lose 16 pounds to fit into the dress, designed by Jean Louis and purchased in 2016 by the Ripley's Believe or Not! museum in Orlando, Florida, for a whopping $4.81 million.
"It was such a challenge,” she said. "I was determined to fit it.”
The dress originally cost $12,000. It was so tight Monroe had to be sewn into it when she purred "Happy Birthday, Mr. President” on May 19, 1962, at a Madison Square Garden fundraiser. She died three months later. It has been known as the "Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress ever since.
Gigi Hadid wore a tight-as-skin, blood red catsuit and a huge, heavy quilted coat from Versace. Reuters
Kardashian, with boyfriend Pete Davidson at her side, paired the dress with Cartier white gold drop diamond earrings and a furry white jacket she kept strategically low to cover her backside. Her hair was platinum and pulled tightly into a bun. But she only wore the fragile original dress for her walk up the Grand Staircase at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, changing into a replica after that, according to Vogue.
Earlier, Blake Lively smiled for the cameras in a grand Atelier Versace gown, with husband Ryan Reynolds in brown velvet, Billie Eilish went with an upcycled green lace-trim dress from Gucci and Cynthia Erivo wore sheer white Louis Vuitton with a matching head piece as the Met Gala returned to its berth on the first on Monday in May after years of pandemic upheaval.
The celebration of American design was themed to gilded glamour, sprouting classic black tailed tuxedoes for many of the men and lots of dresses in black and white for the women. Others paid literal homage to New York City, home base for the Gilded Age, and still more shimmered in metallic golds and silver.
Camila Cabello worked a huge white gown with a midriff top, from Prabal Gurung, while Jordan Roth, the theatre producer, provided a reveal of his own
"Black and white are THE colours for the evening,” said Holly Katz, a stylist and host of the Fashion Crimes podcast, according to the Associated Press.
Lively, one of the evening's co-hosts, wore a bronze and rose gold look that transformed into a shimmery layer of baby blue as a large bow was pulled. Her look drew inspiration from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the blue ceiling of Grand Central Station.
"Instead of looking to fashion to influence the dress, I looked to New York City architecture,” Lively said.
Over-the-top golden deity
Cardi B, accompanied by Donatella Versace, was an over-the-top golden deity in a dress of mesh and chains, a fitting birthday for the designer.
Gigi Hadid was more redefined cat woman than golden girl. She wore a tight-as-skin, blood red Latex catsuit with a corseted bodice and huge, heavy quilted coat from Versace. She walked gingerly up the steps.
Lizzo, meanwhile, got the crowd cheering when she played her gold flute for fans watching the parade of fashion outside. She wore a black dress under a stunning gold-embroidered black coat, all by Thom Browne.
Camila Cabello worked a huge white gown with a midriff top, from Prabal Gurung, while Jordan Roth, the theatre producer, provided a reveal of his own, removing a black, egg-like shell to a matching bulbous suit, all by Thom Browne. Janelle Monáe offered a royal wave in a black and white bedazzled helmet piece and slinky gown with head piece.
"Amazing. I’m proud to be American. I’m proud to be wearing Ralph Lauren. This is gilded glamour from the future,” Monáe told The Associated Press.
Blake Lively with husband Ryan Reynolds. AFP
New York Mayor Eric Adams put politics front and centre in a tux emblazoned with "End Gun Violence” on the back. Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was in a Bordeaux-coloured gown designed by Joseph Altuzarra with the names of historic women sewn into the hem and neckline. They include Abigail Adams, Shirley Chisholm and Madeleine Albright.
Clinton's last Met Gala was a while ago.
"I told Anna I would come every 20 years,” she said.
Vogue livestream co-host Vanessa Hudgens made her way up the steps in a vaguely Victorian black sheer lace gown with a long train by Moschino. She was joined by La La Anthony, her fellow Vogue host who wore a deep red look with cut out shoulders from LaQuan Smith.
"I'm practically naked,” Hudgens joked.
Anthony said: "Those stairs are intimidating.”
And if the Met Gala's return feels like one of those what, already moments, it is.
It's been just under eight months since the last gala, an annual fundraiser that raises eight-figure sums for the Met's Costume Institute. More than $16.4 million was raised last year. The starry event is the institute's primary budget feeder.
This year's gala coincides with the opening of the second part of a two-part exhibit at the Costume Institute focused on American fashion and style. The evening's dress code was gilded glamour and white tie, a la the Gilded Age, that tumultuous period between the Civil War and the turn of the 20th century known for its robber barons, drama and grandeur.
Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton was in a Bordeaux-coloured gown designed by Joseph Altuzarra with the names of historic women sewn into the hem and neckline
Some of the stars included extra touches. Gabrielle Union said the red jewels in her hair to go with her silver Versace dress