Costume Institute Gala 2010- American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity

Some weeks ago I wrote an article on Andrew Bolton, curator at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for Vogue.it. From the interesting video-interview you can see he was busy with organizing “American Woman: Fashionising a National Identity”, an exhibition which will be open to the public from May 5th to August 15th. His career is extremely fascinating and so is his approach to the history of fashion. This exhibition must be amazing, judging from the pictures circulating online: it is divided into section, each corresponding to a precise feminine archetype (the heiress, the suffragette, the flapper, the screen siren, the Gibson girl, the bohemian). Every year, before the opening to the public, the Costume Institute has a gala, one of the most important social events of the year in New York. I was looking forward to seeing who wore what on the red carpet, but this morning, when I checked some fashion blogs I always read, what I saw let me down. The truth is I have found the jewels of the night just scratching beneath the massive presence of banal celebrities.

As usual, I have divided my best-dressed list according to the colours of the outfits.

Ladies in White/Light colours

I’ve always had a soft spot for Kirsten Dunst, because she’s an amazing actress and has a very personal style. I love her more since she has begun quite regularly wearing Rodarte on the red carpet. For me, the connection between Kirsten and the Mulleavys is a match made in heaven. She didn’t wear a dress from a regular Rodarte collection, but a one-of-a-kind piece, designed by Kate and Laura Mulleavy in collaboration with GAP, the main sponsor of the night. Alexander Wang, Thakoon and Sophie Theallet (along with Mulleavys, the winners of the latest CFDA Fashion Fund awards) also designed dresses for the occasion; they will be exhibited in a pop-up store on Fifth Avenue and then auctioned.

She is definitely my best-dressed of the event: she looked heavenly with this one-shouldered dress on. The dress is amazing, very romantic, but with a twist; I love the draping on the bodice and the embroidered asymmetrical panel skirt.

Strands of pearls decorate the bodice and the back of the dress, so beautiful. She wore it with cut-out white sandals and Van Cleef & Arpels diamond jewels. Kirsten’s perfect bun is the best hairstyle for this unique outfit.


Another lady dressed in white who vowed me is Donna Karan. She looked extremely beautiful and refined in a self-designed one-shouldered dress. The dress has a deep neckline and drapings gathered at the waist-line. I have a passion for one-shouldered and draped dresses, but this one is really gorgeous. She styled her hair in soft waves with side parting.

In the past months, I was lucky enough to write an article on Lady Amanda Harlech, Karl Lagerfeld’s “outside pair of eyes”, a fascinating woman with an incredible sense of style, whose inspiration is behind Chanel collections. She walked the red carpet with Karl Lagerfeld and Elisa Sednaoui, wearing a Chanel Haute Couture dress in white satin. with asymmetrical and embellished neckline. She completed it with satin point-toe pumps and a black clutch. Her best accessory? Her dashing smile, for sure!

I must admit I wasn’t convinced of putting Sarah Jessica Parker in my list, because she has been sporting more daring and impressive outfits on the red carpet, but I think she looked incredibly beautiful and glowing. The dress is beautiful but nothing special – a Halston Heritage shimmering beige/peach pleated dress, with full skirt and spaghetti straps. The colour perfectly suited her complexion and hair colour. The shimmering was amplified by the flower-shaped headpiece she wore on her hair and by an unbelievable set of VBH and Fred Leighton diamond bracelets.

Riley Keough, former face of Christian Dior, is one of the celebrities (the other was Kerry Washington) who wore a custom-made dress by Thakoon for GAP. The dress is sublime – made of untrimmed ruffles in a delicate lavender/antique pink colour. What I hate is her messy hairstyle and the make-up – I would have paired this pale-shaded dress with a more intense make-up. She completed the look with Jimmy Choo pale pink peep-toe pumps and a white cuff bracelet.

Shimmering Ladies

Marion Cotillard has been stepping on the red carpet wearing Christian Dior for many years, and I think she is the perfect face of the Parisian maison – beautiful, elegant, intense. It’s no wonder she arrived at the Costume Institute gala wearing a Christian Dior Haute Couture dress. She looked magnificent. The dress is a work of art, all embellished with crystals in a degrade effect; the jewelled neckline and the long sleeves add an Old Hollywood touch, sublime! Maybe it’s not coincidental the fact that this dress is very reminiscent of the infamous dress worn by Marlene Dietrich at the Expo 67 in Montreal. Her wavy hairstyle and make-up – nude lips and sultry eyes – were perfect; her only accessory was a Christian Dior black clutch. I like watching pictures in detail, so you may have noticed Sean Lennon and Sasha Pivovarova in the background.

I wasn’t expecting to see Nicole Richie attending this event, but I’m glad she did, because she looked perfect. What I love about her is that she always brings a bohemian vibe to her everyday and formal outfits; she is consistent and I really appreciate it. She loves flowy dresses, so this time she picked a Marc Jacobs short-sleeved silver dress, with a velvet sash at the waist. She kept her hair loose and wavy and only added a Harry Winston diamond bracelet and a beaded black clutch to complete the look. She has recently sported this make-up – grey eye make-up and nude lips – very often, it really suits her.

Ladies in Blue

Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquiere and his muse Charlotte Gainsbourg is another match made in heaven. She’s the perfect embodiment of Balenciaga fashion – modern yet timeless. She was wearing a sequined wrap dress and platform booties; she also carried a flat clutch and wore her long hair loose. Is there anything more effortless chic than this outfit?

Chloe Sevigny is one of the few celebrities who likes taking style risks and she can pull the most daring outfits off most of the time. She walked the red carpet with Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, and she wore a lace dress by the designing duo. I immediately fell in love with this look because I’m obsessed with long sleeves and high necklines, and my love grew when I saw the opening on the back, a sexy contrast with the severe front. I also loved the girly full skirt with tulle underskirt. She wore black sandals with chunky heels, Fred Leighton jewels and a clutch. Her neutral make-up doesn’t convince me much, though.

Blake Lively has no equals in emphasizing her best assets – legs and cleavage. This time she opted for showing her incredible legs, wearing a lovely Marchesa royal blue one-shouldered dress. She must love blue because last year she wore a Versace dress of the same colour (but in a different shade). She styled her hair in a slick hairdo, and added Lorraine Schwartz diamond jewellery and Christian Louboutin for Marchesa Lili Marlene pumps.

Ladies in Black/White

I don’t know why Mila Kunis is so underrated: she’s a talented actress, with a very classical beauty (just like Megan Fox, for example). She doesn’t like living in the spotlight and maybe for this reason she’s never mentioned in gossip colums. She walked the red carpet with Vera Wang, who designed the black and white tulle dress she wore. It’s actually a little too busy on the bodice – with tulle and embroideries – but I like the unfinished/messy vibe of the skirt. She emphasized her incredible green eyes with a subtle make-up and an updo, and added Fred Leighton diamond jewellery to the look.

I love when someone decides to break the rules and dress a masculine outfit at such an important event. Last year it was Lake Bell, this year Alexa Chung and Ricky Lauren. I’m not a fan of Chung’s scruffy style, but this time I really liked her. She wore a 3.1 Phillip Lim outfit (black trousers with suspenders, white shirt with thin ribbon tie and black blazer), with a black clutch and strappy shoes. She added a touch of colour with a deep red lipstick, very appropriate. Ricky Lauren, on the other hand, opted once again for her trademark style, mixing masculine and feminine in a very personal way: she wore a white tuxedo shirt, with matching waistcoat and bow tie, black trousers and a gorgeous tail jacket. I also love Ralph Lauren’s outfit, who paired a tuxedo jacket and jeans, as usual.

The Outsiders

Even if most of the outfits seen on the red carpet were honestly boring, there was someone who dared to dress in a completely different way. Alexander Wang, for example, attended the event with M.I.A. and Zoe Kravitz, who wore his creations for GAP. The gold net dress seen on the English singer is ugly, but she looked amazing, her confidence (and her Repossi gold rings) made her literally shine. Wang himself wore a supercasual outfit – sneakers included – but I love him for his consistency.

Last but not least, here is the siren of the night, the only one who wore the real showstopper of the evening: Coco Rocha wore a stunning creation by Zac Posen, a printed dress with a massive train. This dress is over-the-top on purpose, but don’t you just love the blue and green shades of the dress and the train, looking like sea foam? The beautiful model also wore Everlon diamond jewellery and styled her hair with waves and a side parting.

Who do you think was the best-dressed of the event?

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16 comments

    1. The dress seen on Jennifer Lopez (Zuhair Murad Couture) was stunning, but not in my style. For this reason, I didn’t pick her as one of the best-dressed of the event.

      1. Not too much my style either, but she looked breathtaking and she blew me away for this reason!
        And I so loved the make up: i like dramatic eyes and dark shades!

    1. I usually like when January Jones sports daring outfits on the red carpet, but this time she was a walking disaster, make-up and gloves included😦

  1. As you know my favourite was Doutzen Kroes (unmentioned).
    But also Elisa Sednaoui.
    And obviously Kirsten Dunst, always and forever.

    But Chole Sevigny. Why? She’s ugly, overrated and spoiled.
    And unconventional in her conevntionality!

    But above all this, reading your chronicle is always a plesure!
    Thanks!

    1. I didn’t pick Doutzen Kroes because I had the sensation the tulle monster she was wearing was ready to eat her up😉

      Chloe Sevigny is a mystery to me. She is always on the brink of being tacky, but she always succeeds to look gorgeous. That dress was very peculiar and I think she pulled it perfectly off.

  2. Absolutely loved SJP and Blake Lively. Eva Longoria’s dress was AWFUL instead!
    Just a note: Lady Amanda Harlech’s dress is the same that Charlotte Casiraghi was wearing at the Rose Ball:

    1. Eva Longoria chose the wrong dress for sure. She looked awful indeed.

      I have never seen the pics of Charlotte Casiraghi at the 2010 Rose Ball, so thanks for letting me know (she looked amazing there).

  3. Super!,ho cercato foto di Leighton per ore ieri,ero ansiosa di vederla riscattarsi dopo l’outfit dello scorso anno,alla fine l’ho trovata,è arrivata al ballo tardi con un gran bel marc jacobs,che però non le stava affatto bene,che dici?.

    Veniamo alla mia personale classifica:ho amato una particolare categoria di donne al ballo,quelle che anno voluto in qualche modo (magari inconsapevolmente) omaggiare la golden age di hollywood (a.Hathaway,camilla belle, m.Cotillard) le ho trovate decisamente appropriate,
    e poi C.Gainsbourg perchè è oramai meravigliosamente senza età,C.Savigny perchè i vestito era effettivamente bellissimo (ho odiato le scarpe) e Diane Kruger con J.Jackson,proprio come coppia,secondo me fantastici,il minimalismo di lei ha lasciato spazio a lui che si è vestito con una certa ricercatezza che ho moolto apprezzato.

    W Mila Kunis indimenticabile fidanzata di A.Kutcher in that 70s show!.

    1. Concordo: l’abito di Marc Jacobs era bello, ma su di lei diventava dimesso. A questo risultato ha contribuito anche una pettinatura non adatta. Quasi quasi preferivo il disastroso outfit Vuitton dell’anno scorso, almeno ha fatto parlare la stampa!

      Diane Kruger è perfetta in ogni occasione, ma questa volta mi aspettavo da lei qualcosa di meno minimal. Ciò non toglie che il vestito Calvin Klein che indossava era una meravigliosa citazione anni ’90.

  4. Ho appena rivisto (seguendoti da anni l’avevo già letto a suo tempo sul tuo blog) un tuo vecchio articolo riguardante Anna Lo Russo proprio sul sito dell’interessata. Che dire complimenti, te lo meriti davvero!
    Silvia

    1. Grazie mille🙂 Fino a qualche giorno fa anche io non ne sapevo niente, ma un’altra lettrice me l’ha segnalato.

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