Last night, The Costume Institute held its benefit gala for the spring 2015 exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art rolls out the red carpet for this event and fashion lovers around the world wait in anticipation to see what the A listers and Hollywood stars will be wearing.
The usual little left to the imagination fan favorite suspects were there - Kim Kardashian in Roberto Cavelli, Beyonce in Givenchy and Jennifer Lopez in Versace. The internet went crazy - they can do no wrong, evidently.
I can guarantee you that no matter what these ladies wear, they will be called brave, bold, fierce, etc. the next day by the fashion "professionals."I always feel a little like I'm out of touch in terms of the excitement over these dresses! I feel like Cher already did this look in her Bob Mackie gowns for so many years, and it gets to a point where it becomes a competition of who can wear the least amount of fabric. JLO's dress did have a jeweled dragon and was in a lovely shade of red, which also could be a nod to Chinese fashion, in general, so that was a good thing.
What I find the most interesting is that the Met gala theme was 'China through the looking glass' and there were only a handful of people who seemed to pay homage to it. In years past, the theme was much more of a statement on the red carpet. Though she was generally panned for the look, I appreciated Sarah Jessica Parker's ensemble including a dress she designed in collaboration with H&M and the dramatic head piece by milliner Philip Treacy. Since Chinese textiles and traditions can be incorporated into fashion in so many ways, Even though they might be considered safe choices, I was happy to see the people below wearing fashions that honored China in their own way.
There were some people who I think looked stunningly beautiful, even if they didn't represent the design elements of China, including Kate Hudson in Michael Kors, Kendall Jenner in Calvin Klein, Anne Hathaway in Ralph Lauren, and Jessica Chastain in Givenchy.
She took my breath away in a fur trimmed yellow gold couture cape created by Chinese designer Guo Pei with incredible embroidery.
Finally, I thought, someone has gotten it right! Rihanna obviously did her designer homework and wore a gown by China's couture designer Guo Pei. Pei's gowns will actually be in the exhibit itself! But what happened on Twitter and Instagram? Memes of Rihanna's dress included pizza, omelettes, melted cheese, big bird, Sponge Bob Square pants, etc.. People started the "crazy Rihanna" trend, as they have in the past. But I, once again feeling out of touch, thought she nailed it.
Rihanna paid tribute to one of China's most talented and celebrated contemporary designers by wearing a Guo Pei cape to the gala. Not only did she choose a dramatic style statement, she chose a couture piece created by an ACTUAL Chinese designer. Who is Guo Pei?
Guo Pei has been compared to Alexander McQueen, and her avant garde fashions are truly theatrical fantasy at its best. She started designing clothing at the age of 19 and in 1986, after graduating from college, she became one of the first high fashion designers in China.
Pei's designs always include some traditional Chinese elements mixed perfectly with modern influences. By combining the beautiful embroidery and designs of China with Western cuts, her fashions have become some of the most sought after in China and around the world.
Guo Pei is the first Chinese haute couture designer, and like McQueen and John Galliano, her work is more like art with its opulent detailing, intricate hand work, and innovative design.
Guo Pei is the most renowned name in China’s fashion industry and designs Couture clothing in Beijing through her Atelier “Mei Gui Fang”. Her imaginative creations take hundreds of craftsmen, who she trains herself, to bring to life. Her pieces are sewn entirely by hand and some dresses require over 50,000 hours to complete.
Guo Pei was named as one of China's top 10 designers in 1995, one of China's top 5 designers in 1996, one of the 100 most creative people in business in 2011, and was given the award of Famous Chinese Female who leads to a new lifestyle, by China Women Organization in 2007. So, comparing her masterpiece to pizza is ignorant and insulting.
So, thank you Rihanna, for being "crazy" enough to put an incredible amount of thought into your outfit. By doing so, you paid homage to China and to emerging Chinese designers. But most importantly, thank you for wearing something that will make the children and teenagers watching you today actually want to visit the museum themselves. Bravo.