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She said, He said: winners and losers at the Met Gala

The Met Gala featured some some timeless and stunning displays ... and some pieces that may be left in the past. Here’s our top (and bottom) picks, from a a (not-so) fashioned minded journalist -- The Burne's Matthew Parkhill -- and Nellie, a fashion design student.

The theme for this year’s Met Gala was The Garden of Time, celebrating the Met’s new exhibition on Sleeping Beauties: forgotten and precious fashion pieces making their second debut. But the Gala has become something of its own spectacle on social media, with celebrities and designers taking the chance to showcase their weird and wild sides.

The broadcast, which ran for four hours, drew equal parts wonder and critic with protestors just beyond the carpet to remind us of reality. We saw gown trains that spanned the width of the carpet, fresh flowers embroidered into fabric, and a dress made of actual sand.

So, what better way to rate the event than through the eyes of two not-so qualified but invested critics?

I invited my partner, Nellie, a fashion student at RMIT, to pick out the best of the best and the worst of the worst. (Fair warning: I am not fashion minded … so I’ll leave the real judging to my expert!)

With that in mind, here are our top picks and notes from the Gala livestream.

The hosts for the livestream arrive first and set the mood.

Gwendoline Christie, Ashley Graham and “La La” Anthony interviewed the guests as they entered the Met with Emma Chamberlain as Vogue’s special correspondent for the evening. Chamberlain took centre stage with a brown and gold Jean-Paul Gaultier dress with matching makeup.

“I like the way it’s dark and twisted. it kind of takes control over her body,” says Nellie.

“The eye makeup and the lace really give it that dark sinister look. The 3D elements, like the hanging thread off her elbows and vines around her shoulders and neck, really give another side to the garden of time theme.”

Off to a great start, the Gala promises to incorporate both older fashion styles with a floral flavour, with Chamberlain’s dress sucking the colour out of some of the arriving guests around her. If you’re not aware, The Garden of Time was originally a short story published in 1962, and was the inspiration for fashion designer Thom Brown’s collection in 2021. A tale of aristocrats and rabble, the story played on floral decadence -- quite ironic then given the state of the world.

Those first to arrive from the guest list were the co-chairs for the evening: Jennifer Lopez, Chris Hemsworth, singer Bad Bunny and Zendaya.

The co-chairs act as the hosts for the secretive event that takes place inside the Met at the opening of the new exhibition. Usually, these hosts perform for the guests and sit at the head table, as well as help plan the evening, guest list and theme. 

From the co-chairs, Zendaya was a clear star.

Arriving in two looks, a “dramatic” dress from designer Galliano for Margiela before changing into a Givenchy black gown with a floral McQueen headpiece, Zendaya kept her usual golden standard of capturing the theme whilst delivering iconic looks. 

Fresh from the premiere of Challengers, in which she stars as the “girlboss, manipulator and slayer of men,” as Nellie puts it, Zendaya did not disappoint and was definitely one of our highlights.

“Zendaya just knows the assignment. She works with really good designers and she just knows the assignment,” Nellie says with an approving nod, before comparing the outfits side by side.

“The first outfit was very Margiela, hinting the most recent show -- but the second dress was more toned back, even though the train was massive … she was alive in this (first) moment and (then came back) in a funeral look: it’s like a whole evolution.” 

The key to an iconic Met Gala look, Nellie says, is capturing the theme in a unique way while also delivering “drama and performance.”

“[The outfit] needs to be unique in the theme -- but I don’t like it when it’s too on the nose -- and drama and performance is always involved. The people who do that are more celebrated than the other guests.”

How disappointing then that Chris Hemsworth decided to show up looking like he had just stepped out of an ad for Peroni.

“It’s quite embarrassing that he got upstaged by Bad Bunny,” Nellie says as she compares the co-chairs.

“The men always play it boring. It happens every year. it’s disappointing that they fail every year to think outside of the box. Most of them shouldn’t even get invited again.”

Ouch. While Hemsworth did look cool and kempt in his off-white suit jacket, top button undone, he did stand in stark contrast to Bad Bunny’s dark and prestigious outfit from designer Galliano for Margiela that seemed to be falling apart at the seams -- perfectly in theme with the disgraced aristocratic atmosphere.

And there were many men like Hemsworth. Talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, James Corden and Seth Myers all sported a boring black suit jacket or tuxedo, alongside later appearances from Jerry Seinfeld, movie stars Hugh Jackman and Matt Damon and, surprisingly, Ed Sheeran, all in varying floral patterns or colours,

At least Barry Keoghan and Eddie Redmayne kept us blokes in the game. In a brown velvet, Victorian-esque three-piece suit, top hat and pocket watch to match, Saltburn star Keoghan was a favourite alongside Redmayne’s one-piece suit/skirt matchup that appeared in tatters and blended seamlessly with his partner’s dress. 

But the real winner out of the men?

Tiktoker Wisdom Kaye stole our attention and he can have it all.

Wearing a Robert Wurn original, Kaye strutted in all red. With a long coat tail, similarly loud ruffled sleeves and collar with a burnt rose on his lapel, Kaye’s outfit looked as if it had been caught in a blaze -- fitting perfectly with the theme.

“I love that it’s just so loud and challenges the male standard at the Met Gala because it is just so low for men,” laughs Nellie.

“It’ll definitely inspire more men to dress in theme and think about what they’re wearing. It’s such an honour to be invited and they might as well have fun with it.”

After Kaye was absent from last year’s Gala, fashion fans took to social media to voice their outrage that the “best dressed guy on TikTok,” according to Vogue themselves, would be kept from one of the most highly anticipated fashion events. It’s safe to say he’s earned his place.

“He needed to go. I had no doubts that he’d do it right.”

Well, we can’t argue with that now.

Keeping up with all these names? The Gala is nothing if not a pop culture quiz, with most of the invite list composed of people who have made recent headlines -- whether from upcoming films or runways, or trending on social media. 

However, not every invitee makes it to the Gala: Entrants must "donate’" $75,000 to the museum in order to appear for the festivities, and the work that can be involved in an iconic look can be huge: see Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt’s mint-green Sabyaschi saree, which took 165 artisans over 1900 hours to make, she told Vogue.

Many usual sights, like Margot Robbie and Rihanna, were absent this year for various reasons. They also included, Taylor Swift did not grace the turquoise carpet as her Eras tour moved to Europe.

Feel up to date with your A, B and C list celebrities? Head spinning a little? Let's keep the ball rolling.

From the wider guest list, there was a wide array of interpretations to the garden theme: Tyla Seethal, the South African singer, certainly won points for originality with her dress made of sand and crystals, moulded in her shape to the millimetre, holding a hourglass and adorned with gold jewellery.

“Flawless. Elevated. It fits very well with the theme," Nellie notes. Can’t argue there. The dress, which did not survive the night, according to Vanity Fair, is arguably one of the greatest debuts for a first-timer to the Gala.

“It’s inspired by a ‘sands of time’ idea which no one else explored. [Most guests] just did lots of flowers … I like the fact they put sand on her body which made it more coherent. It’s just very creative, and usually people don’t expect (that) from a first timer, they usually play it a bit more tame cause it’s their first time, but she blew everyone out of the water.”

If you’re wondering how Tyla climbed the stairs to the Met in a dress made of sand… well, she didn’t, she was carried up there before the dress was cut into a mini-skirt to allow the singer some more freedom.

Another eye-catching piece was Indian business entrepreneur Mona Patel’s gown, made by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, who was also a first timer for the Gala.

“Innovative. Elegant -- I would describe this as more elegant than Tyla’s -- but also precious. All the colours are very light, and there’s lots of thin layers (connected with) boning or wiring to make it solid. (the 3d elements) brings it a bit more to life," Nellie says.

The dress, which was creme coloured and designed in the image of a butterfly, utilised a lot of sheer fabrics with wiring and embroidery to create some volume in the train. Along her arms, lilies opened and close via a hidden mechanism.

“Instead of a more floral pattern, she is the flower itself. It’s a better take (on the theme) than doing a boring floral look, and there was a lot of thought and work, and I think Iris van Herpen was the perfect choice to be dressed by. The lilies and wings moving was a really fun touch. Performance is always a big part.”

The Kardashians/Jenners made their usual appearance, with Kim seeming to look to beat the record for the tightest corset. Her half-sister Kyle Jenner instead opted for a much more bland and tame tan dress by Oscar de la Renta. 

The Met Gala takes place every first Monday in May, and if this week’s headlines are any indication, the event will only become ever more grander. The livestream drew in 53 million concurrent viewers, according to Vogue’s analytics, doubling 2022’s viewership and is the third year the event has been live streamed, adding more to the fashion frenzy.

For a more detailed (and professional) look at the 2024 Met Gala, or just for a fun retreat from reality, check out Vogue’s event page here for the full list of looks as well.

And if you're starting to relate to those in District 12… well you didn’t hear that from me.


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