Celebrities are just as shiny and beautiful in person as they appear to be in magazines or on screens. All of them. Kim Kardashian, for example, is so stunning that if you were to sit across from her on the subway (like, if she were a regular civilian), you would miss your stop so that you could continue looking at her bone structure. I can confirm that Naomi Campbell is immaculate, Gisele Bündchen is an alien, Janelle Monae does not have pores, Elle Fanning is a water nymph, Zoë Krativz‘s face could save lives, Kate Bosworth (even if you’re one of those people who is like, “What does Kate Bosworth actually do?!”) is so pretty that you just want her to stand near you and Bella Hadid is legitimately “hot.” After working the 2017 Met Gala red carpet last night, I understand the appeal of Us Weekly. Celebrities are something to behold.
They are also terrible at walking in heels, upstairs or otherwise.
For three and a half hours that went by like that, I stood at almost the top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s tented steps to cover Anna Wintour’s famed philanthropic endeavor for the Costume Institute. A flat plateau stretched between my spot on the carpet and the final few steps that led attendees inside. Out of breath, famous actors, models, designers and ingénues had almost no choice at that point but to stop and pose. It was like setting up a camera pit on the fifth flight of a six-floor walk-up. Fairly exhausting for the person walking, but man, did it make for a great view.
We (the celebrities and I) were there to celebrate “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between,” a theme that either puzzled or terrified considering the looks that turned out versus the ones that could have. Between the Comme des Garçons archive on display in the museum and the notoriously close-to-chest (when it comes to sample loans) brand, this theme wasn’t as easy as 2013’s punk’s leather and plaid. You can reference Rei’s designs, but it’s hard for nuance to hit under such bright lights. I was surprised there were less polka dots, that no one wore Jacquemus. My thing with the Met Gala is that when it comes to those who attend, we already know they’re type-A specimens who look otherworldly in traditional dresses. Why not say fuck it and get weird?
That said, my vote for best-dressed: Tracee Ellis Ross, Rihanna, Helen Lasichanh and Caroline Kennedy for their commitment to Comme; Cynthia Erivo and Solange, both in Thom Browne; Zoë Kravitz in Oscar de la Renta; Liu Wen in Off-White; Ruth Negga, armless (very Rei) in Valentino; Zendaya in Dolce & Gabbana, Maxwell, who wore a black kilt; and Wiz Khalifa. Miss Congeniality goes to Blake Lively because she is so, so glow-y and nice. How is she that nice?
Most of this is the stuff you can see from your screen. As for that which you can’t, here’s how it went down:
I applied for credentials; received them. I had a mild seizure over what to wear, then remembered 30% of my job involves fashion and that I should treat this like a photo shoot. I put loan requests in, chose a floor-length Resort 2016 Rosie Assoulin gown meant to hit at your ankle bone, spent the whole time not stepping on the carpet-grazing petal and felt, as one does in Rosie, special.
But! It’s an awkward line to walk — dressing in a way that connotes that you, too, “know” fashion, that represents Man Repeller well, but not in a way that presumes you’re an A-list guest. When you are press, you are not A-list.
I arrived at 4:30 p.m. sharp to check in, the most on-time I have ever been in my life. The line of photographers, videographers and reporters was long and dressed mostly in black. We waited in a giant room under the museum with tables, chairs and benches where those with laptops began to set up (their stations would act as the temporary bases to transmit photos for the night), while those with cameras bickered and chatted. They all know one another, like reunion at summer camp. I knew two other reporters, one of them Anahita Moussavian from the New York Post and Alexa.
She and I went to the bathroom together before we lined up. A few women were making last-minute costume changes. Makeup was retouched. There was a freshly opened stocking wrapper in the trash. The energy was somewhere between frenetic and “let’s get this over with.” I oscillated between excitement and panic.
Then we were off, led out the door and up the same endless steps that the celebrities soon would walk. If you’re facing the entrance, I was stationed to the left of the door on “Vogue’s side.” Directly across from me was The New York Times. I stayed in place until 9 p.m., when Celine Dion, the last guest on the carpet, made her ascent. I stood and mostly observed as famous people zig-zaged up the steps, from one side to the other, posing for and speaking to the screaming press. Imagine a hundred voices shouting your name, weird commands, obscure questions: “WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? CAN YOU BALANCE ON YOUR TOE FOR A MOMENT? PLEASE EXPLAIN THE QUADRATIC EQUATION.” The celebrities try their best to do what you ask. It’s a chaotic performance under the most controlled circumstance — a sight to behold, supremely bizarre and given this particular collection of individuals, magnificent. If it wasn’t what I expected the theme turnout to look like, it was what I expected the Met Gala to be: highbrow, high-heeled, high-career entertainment.
Photos by Amelia Diamond.