China through a dim looking glass
So Sarah Jessica Parker’s hat was a marvel, Kate Hudson looked like the Last Empress in gilt by Michael Kors, and Rihanna was suitably Chinese glam when she performed on stage.
Amal Clooney wearing Margiela by John Galliano
Kate Hudson wore Michael Kors and arrived with him too
Fausto Puglisi with talent show star Zendaya Coleman
But compared to the brilliant ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the star studded ballgoers were a wash out.
Was it because they were frightened of a Far East cliché that designers who had some great pieces on display in the museum were timid to a fault when dressing their fashion partners?
Tom Ford, who put sensuality into chinoiserie in a collection for Saint Laurent, did the same for Rita Ora in red – one of many “scarlet women”.
If flame colour was red hot for stars at the ball, the shapes were predictable: slim lines, curvy shapes and just a few standouts like Amal Clooney in her Maison Margiela dress by John Galliano.
Yellow was the other version of Imperial China. That’s what I wore as a yellow-gold Chinese pattern on my Dries Van Noten coat. I was gratified to see that another version of my Dries look had made the cut in the museum show.
Curator Andrew Bolton made such a superb job of threading fashion among the museum’s artefacts and with films on a Chinese theme – I wish he had been at the bottom of the red carpet stairs editing IN and OUT the good, bad and ugly looks.
Reese Witherspoon in Jason Wu gives Stella McCartney a hug
Lady Gaga and Alexander Wang
But the problem was not that there were fashion flops – but rather the opposite. That nobody tried half so hard as the figures that could be seen on screen in the multiple movies that have addressed Chinese subjects over the years.
I suppose Lady Gaga’s mesh, wrapped around her as she swept in with her fashion guru Alexander Wang, might be construed as a Chinese statement from a designer who has that country in his blood stream.
Kim Kardashian looked striking in a beaded lace dress encrusted with Chinese symbols from Roberto Cavalli. Significantly, it is a Roberto Cavalli evening dress which takes pride of place featuring on the exhibitions publicity poster.
And many stars – not least the Chinese ones such as Fan Bingbing – looked pretty and elegant.
But why are we so frightened today to dress boldly when everything from the enchanting flower-patterned invitation and the wisteria hung overhead invited us to find fashion magic?
Inevitably, the designers who gave the most were those with a sense of drama. Fausto Puglisi, who has worked in Hollywood, knows how to make a visual fashion statement; he dressed Zendaya Coleman. And Jeremy Scott never hesitates to make a splash – particularly on himself.
Ah – men! Apart from Hamish Bowles in a coat worthy of entering an opium den, the male attendees – even the most flamboyant – did nothing to embrace the wild and wonderful looks from the East.
The most fun? It was looking at the extraordinary Chinese clothes and objects on display in the upper galleries. They put the timid gala group to shame.
Фото: Suzy Meneks Instagram