It’s the first Monday of May, which means the Met Gala is back, with A-Listers descending upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for fashion’s most extravagant night.
While last year’s theme leaned into the lavishness of the Gilded Era, this year is focusing on a different legacy of luxury: “In honor of Karl” is a tribute to the life and career of Karl Lagerfeld, the powerhouse — and often controversial — designer who transformed some of fashion’s most famous houses. Lagerfeld became synonymous with Chanel in the decades he served as creative director, and when he died in 2019, at age 85, he was still helming Chanel and Fendi, where he led design for more than half a century, as well as his own eponymous label.
Co-chairing this year’s event along with Vogue’s global editorial director Anna Wintour are Dua Lipa, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer and Penélope Cruz, the last of whom made her runway debut for Chanel shortly after Lagerfeld’s death.
Because of Lagerfeld’s deep influence on generations of designers and models, the red carpet (or, this year, white carpet) turnout has been big, with stars paying tribute by channeling his best designs over the decades, as well as reinterpreting his own distinctive black-gloved personal style.
Black, white, blush and pearls have reigned, echoing Lagerfeld’s classic Chanel palette. A number of archival looks from the label have made reappearances via Met Gala guests, including Margot Robbie wearing a 1993 dress once worn by Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman arriving in the iconic feathered gown made famous in her romantic, Baz Luhrmann-directed Chanel No 5 commercial from 2004.
Kidman told Vogue on the carpet that it was amazing “to be able to honor him and wear this dress now.” She added: “There’s whimsy to it and it’s light as a feather. It’s couture and that’s what it should be.”
Federer also had a touching, subtle tribute to Lagerfeld: Fendi creative director Kim Jones (who took over for Lagerfeld after his death) included hand-drawn sketches inspired by the German designer in the lining of the retired tennis star’s suit.
“These were the most extensive preparations I’ve ever made getting dressed for an event. It was good fun,” Federer told CNN.
Though Choupette, Lagerfeld’s beloved cream-colored cat, couldn’t make the gala after months of rumors that she would appear, there were plenty of feline references in her honor. Doja Cat, Jared Leto and Lil Nas X all came in full cat costumes, with Doja Cat’s dazzling Oscar de la Renta hooded gown accompanied by prosthetics that put the much-disparaged “Cats” movie adaptation to shame.
And though in past years, Kim Kardashian strove to break the internet with her gala looks, this year she said she didn’t worry about outdoing herself. She told Vogue she just “wanted to feel glamorous” in her Schiaparelli look inspired by Chanel. “I wanted to just be dripping in pearls.”
The closers for the night were Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, who arrived well after the rush of red carpet entrances, but in fitting, show-stopping style. Rihanna’s Valentino gown and hooded coat, bursting with a camellia flower motif, was reminiscent of the slew of muses, including Claudia Schiffer and Cara Delevingne, who closed out Lagerfeld’s couture shows as Chanel brides.
Scroll down to see some of the event’s best fashion. This article will be updated as the red carpet unfolds.
Top Photo: Janelle Monae, dressed by Thom Browne, revealed a wired underdress beneath an oversized coat. (Reuters/Andrew Kelly)