When Rihanna turns up dressed like the fashion Pope, Katy Perry arrives in giant feathered angel wings, and Blake Lively wears a dress so large it wouldn't even fit in a regular car, you know a dress code is not optional. The Met Gala is a celebration of creativity in fashion and the perfect opportunity for designers and stars to really pull out all the stops. So, for many, it was slightly disappointing to see some of our favorite famous faces take what seemed like the easy route this year. Kate Moss's feather-trimmed LBD may have suited her personal style, but was it Met Gala material? Cindy Crawford looked better than most 20-something models, but was her red dress really in keeping with the theme? And while Dakota Fanning's pretty white gown was undeniably angelic, it was hardly up there with Katy when it comes to drama. As ever, this year, there were a number of stars and designers who played it safe, and the internet was having none of it.
Of course, with a theme like "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," there is a vast amount of room for interpretation. The choice of theme has been quite controversial, because one person's homage is another's blasphemy. So it's possible that the designers who chose not to turn their guests into walking religious icons may have done so out of respect and faith, not laziness. Not every designer feels comfortable rolling out something quite so overt as Sarah Jessica Parker's walking Italian catholic church, complete with an altar headdress.
But there are other ways to make a nod to the theme that's a little more creative than just throwing on a golden crucifix necklace with an otherwise bland black gown. Many stars chose to make their Met Gala statement with headdresses, crowns, gilded details, stained-glass prints, or armor that made a nod to the knights who were historically connected to the church. However, even then it felt like there was a huge disparity. Zendaya arrived dressed as a modern-day Joan of Arc in head-to-toe silver metallic awesomeness. As a result, Gisele's gold silk gown fell a bit flat in comparison.
Of course, some of this is down to the designers. If they're dressing multiple guests, they have to prioritize those who'll get the most publicity. Models often end up in less spectacular looks, because the real showstoppers go to the Rihannas of this world. And then each designer has an aesthetic and a creative vision. Not everyone is going to be as outlandish as Jean-Paul Gaultier or Jeremy Scott. Some designers love to be a little more unusual in how they approach a theme. Amanda Seyfried's Prada gown, for example, is rendered in the same yellow as the flag of the Vatican City. It's likely that's what Prabal Gurung was going for when he dressed Gabrielle Union in the same color, complete with a cathedral train (oh yes, cathedral trains were rife, because there's another nod to the church). But at first glance, she just looks like a beautiful woman in a beautiful yellow dress. The inspiration behind Hikari Mori's ruffled two-layer green gown was even less obvious, but the designer was, in fact, paying homage to the place where it all began: the garden of Eden.
Sadly, those subtle nods aren't what make the headlines, and to many these stars are just seen as lazy, or lacking in the confidence to step out of their comfort zones. Now the Met Gala has become such an iconic event, it's such a game of fashion one-upmanship that nobody has time for those who just want to wear a pretty dress. An iconic Rihanna moment is what we crave. We want to see Cardi B looking like a queen in a gown that protects the heavenly body she's growing right now. We want Solange to be a walking art installation, right down to the carefully thought-out contents of her handbag. We want to carefully deconstruct every memorable moment and wonder what's to come next year. And sadly, though beautiful, the gowns in this gallery are likely to be the ones that get forgotten.