Costume Institute Gala 2009: The Model as Muse

Something must have gone wrong at the Costume Institute Gala 2009: after the defection of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Stephanie Seymour, following the absence of the French designer Azzedine Alaia [1], a sort of emotional frost fell on the red carpet. This morning, when I first checked the pics from the event, I was extremely disappointed from what I saw (yes, I am also referring to Anne Hathaway: bouffant hairstyle and dress with exposed zip? No way!). Then I started digging the photo archive, and some gorgeous outfits came to the rescue. As usual, I am just posting the outfits I actually liked, leaving to others the fun to point the worst dressed guests out.

Just one word for Kate Moss: stunning. She was co-host of the event and posed on the red carpet with Marc Jacobs. She wore a Marc Jacobs iridescent short dress [2], Yves Saint Laurent metallic Tribute Two platform pumps, Harry Winston jewels and a nice turban-shaped headpiece by Stephen Jones. The dress had a plunging opening on the back.

Everyone is focusing on celebrities, but, since the exhibition is devoted to models, here are the best dressed of them. Anja Rubik wore a glittering Balmain dress and sandals; Sasha Pivovarova wore a Giambattista Valli feather cape with a Fred Leighton tiara and earrings, Luigi Scialanga necklace and bracelets. Lara Stone arrived with the designer Alexander Wang, wearing one of his creations, and Daria Werbowy wore a Balmain short sequined dress with ankle boots and a shining clutch bag.

Back in the Nineties, Shalom Harlow was one of my favourite models. She arrived at the Gala wearing a Bob Mackie puffy taffeta dress, which would have turned anyone in a walking disaster. Shalom was gorgeous as usual and she absolutely pulled this ‘dangerous’ dress off. Natalia Vodianova and Nadja Auermann wore simple dresses: Vodianova chose a Fortuny dark pink long dress, while Auermann, blonder than blond, wore a Lanvin draped beige dress, very chic.

Sessilee Lopez dazzled in a Zac Posen metallic dress, with Diane Von Furstenberg gold peep-toe pumps, a Judith Leiber oval minaudiere and Tom Binns jewels. I love Liya Kebede’s Derek Lam sequined dress and the lavender strappy sandals she wore to complete the outfit. Arlenis Sosa was lovely in her Alberta Ferretti fringed dress, and Iris Strubegger was amazing in a Givenchy Haute Couture flower-printed dress.

Jessica Stam’s beauty is so intense and modern, emphasized by her red/blonde hair. She wore a stunning Rodarte minidress, Nicholas Kirkwood strappy sandals and diamond jewels.

The model-turned-actress Diane Kruger is always one of my favourite celebs on the red carpet, because she is extremely refined, simple and classy. For the occasion, she wore a Chanel Haute Couture short dress, with black satin pumps and clutch bag. I love her hairstyle (there is some jeweled ornament in her hair) and the barely-there make-up.

Time goes by but not for Cindy Crawford. She brought a touch of supermodels’ fascination on the red carpet, wearing a sexy Versace satin dress, with a plunging neckline and side slit. She also wore strappy platform sandals, a blue clutch and diamond jewels, all by Versace.

As a huge Versace fan, I was more than happy to see lots of celebs wearing Versace dresses. Blake Lively surely stopped the show with this sexy blue dress on. This dress is perfect for her, and the colour beautifully compliments her tanned skin. Blake added gold strappy sandals and Lorraine Schwartz rings. I also love her hair, pulled back in a sleek ponytail. Blake’s partner for the event was her boyfriend and co-star in Gossip Girl, Penn Badgley. Leighton Meester (wearing a tragic Louis Vuitton outfit) and Ed Westwick (OMG, was Ed or Chuck Bass the handsome young man on the red carpet? ;)) also attended the event.

Jessica Biel’s choice really surprised me. She wore my favourite dress from Atelier Versace Spring 2009, the amazing China red exotic flower dress with the long ruffled train. When I wrote about the collection, I was wondering who would have been the first to walk the red carpet wearing this dress, but I would have never thought of Biel. The dress is superlative, but Biel doesn’t look comfortable in it; moreover, her spray tanned orange-y complexion is horrible. Well, everything comes second after the dress. As for the accessories, she chose Christian Louboutin Hyper-Privè pumps and Fred Leighton jewels, including platinum-set rose cut diamond earrings and a platinum-set sapphire ring.

Kate Beckinsale wore another showstopper dress, a Marchesa dress with a glittering bodice and big ruffled skirt. She’s gorgeous in it and I also like her wavy hair and simple make-up.

Ashley Olsen, unlike her Christian Lacroix-clad twin, wowed me wearing this minimalist white dress from her collection The Row. The dress has a short train and a plunging neckline on the back. It reminds me of Calvin Klein’s style but also of the infamous white jersey dresses designed by Tom Ford for Gucci. She carried a silver metallic bag and wore Fred Leighton vintage jewellery. I really like her shorter haircut and basic smoky eye make-up.

Molly Sims wore a Dolce & Gabbana dress, with a fitted bodice and ruched sleeves. I usually don’t like brocade-like fabrics, but the gold silk of this dress is gorgeous. I also appreciate Molly’s accessories: she wore satin platform pumps, Tom Binns coloured jewels and an embroidered Dolce & Gabbana Vlada bag, with the keyhole closure [3].

I really enjoyed Stella McCartney’s outfit: she wore one of her trademark jumpsuits, made of lace. This is not a safe choice, but Stella looked super-confident in it. She accented the waist-line with a satin bow belt.

The actress Lake Bell walked the carpet wearing a perfectly tailored Rag & Bone suit. She mixed feminine (patent pumps, a Raven Kaufmann Couture satin clutch) and masculine (the fedora hat) accessories, and the result was gorgeous. Lake is so beautiful, this androginous outfit is perfect for her because it emphasizes her charm. Rihanna tried the same masculine/feminine look, wearing a Dolce & Gabbana suit, but it was just not right for her.

Last but not least, here is Lisa Airan, the New York dermatologist and socialite I have a girl crush for [4].  I think she’s amazing because she always changes her style and always looks perfect. This time she channelled her inner Mr Spock wearing a rhinestone-studded Balmain dress and Christian Louboutin Differa strappy sandals. I don’t like her hairstyle, but her dark red lipstick is so right for this outfit.

These are the best dressed guests for me. Which is your favourite? Have I left your best-dressed celebrities out?

[1] How is it possible no one invited Alaia? When it comes to the influence of models on fashion, he was one of the first designers, back in the Eighties, who contributed in making them heroes of the catwalk. The influence of his work on fashion, moreover, is not questionable. This demonstrate the real state of fashion, which is more and more connected to business.

[2] The fabric of this dress makes me think of the beautiful Versace dress Amber Valletta wore at the Costume Institute Gala in 2008.

[3]  I have written of this bag in Cherchez la Femme.

[4] I think she was the best dressed (in a Rodarte cloud-like dress) at the Costume Institute Gala 2008.

Source, source and source.




  1. Kate uber Alles (am I starting to get predictable? 😉 )
    I absolutely love Lake Bell, she proves you don’t need to flash anything to be elegant and sexy- plus I’ve always loved ‘androgynous’ looks, I think I had seen Rinko Kikuchi in a tux at some point…
    And congrats to Shalom Harlow, that outfit is amazing but certainly not a safe choice- still, she looks great!
    so Kiara

    PS: Alaia not being invited is simply appaling. I’m sure Naomi’s absence was because of that, as he is among the ones who launched her (if I’m not mistaken).

  2. Lake Bell’s choice is extravagant and self-confident at the same time: wearing a tux is never a safe choice but she totally rocks it. I think I’ve seen Rinko wearing a tux, too, but I can’t remember when/where…I’ll try to find it out.

    As for the Alaia affair, I’m so nauseated by what happened. He was asked to design seven (yes, seven!) dresses for guests of the event, but then he discovered he wasn’t invited and that his work was only briefly referred to in the exhibition. Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell (yes, one of her first modelling jobs was for Alaia, but she is also a friend and a muse for the French designer) and Stephanie Seymour, namely three of the biggest supermodels, decided to do a no show. If you count that Christy Turlington was not there, all the hoopla about the supermodels somehow failed. I think it’s time for Vogue U.S. and the MET Costume Institute to move on (it is known that Anna Wintour supervises both the gala and the exhibition, and it is known that Alaia has never found space enough on Vogue U.S.).

  3. Dunque,partiamo dal meglio (poco):
    Blake Lively:semplicemente stupenda,perfetto il colore dell’abito perfetto il trucco,splendido l’insieme (troppo spacco forse…),sono rimasta a bocca aperta,stupita dalla bellezza.
    Diane Kruger:hai detto tutto tu,è sofisticata,un gradino sopra a moltissime.
    Kate moss:non mi piace quasi mai,ma in questo caso era perfettamente a tema.(l’unica forse di tutta la serata ad aver indossato con successo qualche cosa dello stilista che l’accompagnava).
    Liv Tyler & Stella McCartney: a pari merito,bellissima ed adeguata la prima,con un outfit da urlo la seconda (quel pizzo!).Stop.
    Il peggio è stato rappresentato da molte,a mio avviso,inadeguate,esagerate ridicole.
    Terribili le gemelle Olsen,Madonna,molte altre solo banali,menzione d’onore alle scarpe di Bono,devo ancora riprendermi dallo spavento.
    Un pensiero per Leighton,che mi ha fatto quasi tenerezza,pareva un pò consapevole,in viso,del suo aspetto…perchè quell’acconciatura,perchè scarpe con lacci alla caviglia quando già si avevano quei leggings?,perchè?perchè?.
    Dimenticavo:Chuck Bass sicuramente ci avrebbe sorpreso con un vestito più fantasosioso ma meno contemporaneo,ma onestemente di fronte a lla sua foto,l’unico mio pensiero è stato:”chevvuoichesiano 10anni di differenza torna a casa in limo con me…please!”.
    Scusa mi sono dilungata troppo.

    1. Liv Tyler è piaciuta anche a me, ma non l’ho inserita tra le meglio vestite perchè il suo abito Stella McCartney era un po’ banalotto.
      Sono d’accordissimo con te per quanto riguarda Leighton. Impossibile per lei non sapere che sarebbe stata criticata per il suo tragico outfit, se lo aspettava eccome, e questo mi lascia onestamente perplessa. Sarebbe interessante sapere chi è la sua stylist e perchè lei abbia subito passivamente quello che le è stato scelleratamente proposto.
      Su Ed/Chuck, che dire? Anche io farei volentieri un giro in limo con lui ;P
      Grazie per il commento, mi diverte molto discutere di questi eventi:)

  4. Su Leighton Meester ti espongo la mia ipotesi:
    credo che ci sia un forte desiderio di voler distinguere l’attrice da Blair,cercando di rendere l’attrice duttile per nuove parti,insieme al desiderio di volerla distinguere come pop star.
    Spero che al suo stylist,o al suo agente,( se scopri chi c’è dietro i suoi outfit fammi sapere),nn venga mai in mente di farla diventare come Rihanna…


    1. Sono d’accordo con te. Effettivamente questo – sacrosanto – desiderio di scindere personaggio e persona l’avevo notato anche io, specie da quando Leighton è diventata testimonial Reebok (te la vedi Blair con le scarpe da ginnastica ai piedi? ;P). Io sono a favore di questo sforzo, perchè il rischio è quello di rimanere intrappolato nel personaggio (vedi Sarah Jessica Parker e Carrie Bradshaw), ma ci sono modi e modi per farlo. Certamente fare indossare alla Meester un outfit così eccentrico e sbagliato non è stata una gran mossa. E’ vero, c’è anche la questione ‘pop star’ ma anche lì c’è modo e modo di fare le cose. Un conto è essere fashion forward (vedi Beyoncè), un conto è fare troppi sforzi evidenti per esserlo (vedi Rihanna).

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