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Last night, the glitterati showed up and showed out, descending upon the Big Apple for the 2024 Met Gala in gorgeous, over-the-top ensembles to celebrate the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s spring 2024 Costume Institute exhibition, Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion. Opening this week, the exhibition aims to show never before seen items from Met’s permanent collection alongside historically significant pieces too delicate to ever be worn again. The dress code for the evening took a slightly different path, playing with the same idea of archivalism and the never-before-seen or never to be seen again, but in a way that embraced Mother Nature. The Garden Of Time – inspired by a short story written by English novelist J.G. Ballard in 1962 which chronicles a wealthy Count and Countess as they swan around their blissful and ethereal estate – signified an evening defined by an evening riddled with glitz, glam, greenery and other flora. And while the theme may have been a bit lost on some, others interpreted it in slew of ways, from majestic garden fairies, to reimagining archival looks or actually wearing them.

Anna Wintour – as the chairperson of the fundraising evening and Met Ball royalty herself – kicked things off wearing a modest Loewe (as opposed to her usual Chanel) creation made up of a crisp white satin shift and a black cape embroidered with blooming flora of yellow, red and green. Emma Chamberlain, like a dark wood nymph, ascended the forest steps next wearing a custom brown lace Jean Paul Gaultier number paired with moody makeup that was inspired by the brand’s AW03 collection. Gwendoline Christie, the English actress who closed John Galliano’s viral, industry shifting Maison Margiela Artisanal show earlier this year, arrived in a vampiric red gown the designer made especially for the occasion. Her hair was teased into a gravity-defying updo of the same kind seen on that memorable Margiela catwalk. Sewing the sands of time, Tyla’s custom Balmain gown, which was sculpted like a second skin and spilled out into a sand covered skirt while she carried a hourglass as her clutch, required her to be carried from step to step. This was followed by Kendall Jenner’s svelte, Givenchy haute couture AW99 by Lee Alexander McQueen look was one of few that truly tapped the Sleeping Beauties leg of the theme. The bum-crack bearing brown lace two-piece was only ever shown on mannequins before making it into McQueen’s archives making it the first time the dress has been worn.

The most anticipated look of the night, Hollywood starlet of the moment Zendaya wore a show-stopping Maison Margiela look. In metallic shades of emerald, deep blue and black, the sage lamé and organza, bias-cut, corseted gown featured a tulle bow across the back and a single draped shoulder with bustles of painted grapes for adornment. Master milliner Stephen Jones was the virtuoso behind her hand-painted fastener, nude netted veil and black plume headpiece. Zendaya made a second appearance, closing out ‘red’ carpet, in an incredible black grand-slam of a gown. The Challengers starlet stepped out swathed in a jet-black taffeta, jacketed Givenchy SS96 haute couture gown (also by Galliano), with a massive, rose bouquet headpiece created by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen SS07 and a metres-long train to boot.

Making her Met Gala debut, Taylor Russell’s 3D moulded wooden corset and Roman draped white skirt by Jonathan Anderson at Loewe was truly tree-like. Gigi Hadid’s shimmering white Thom Browne ball gown draped from the waist with layers upon layers of black-lined tuxedo jackets that mimicked the curves of rose petals. The dress was decorated with lovely yellow roses, green vines and piercing thorns – it was Disney princess but couture-ified. Another debut, Blackpink’s Jennie wore an asymmetric, cobalt blue Alaïa mini dress inspired by a similar look seen in the summer/fall 2024 show. A beautiful display of Pieter Mulier’s expert drapery, the crepe georgette number took more than 200 hours of hands-on work to realise and used 13 metres of fabric. Soon after, Kim K, with ice white hair, dawned a silver leaf Maison Margiela skirt, cut from mirror fragments, crystal pendants and pearls, with a grey cashmere cardigan inspired by Dior 1997 couture.

Lana del Rey took the Garden of Time theme to new heights with an Alexander Mcqueen piece – marking Seán McGirr’s Met debut – that featured swathes of nude tulle and a canopy snaking with vine-like branches and thorny thistle. The look was based on an iconic McQueen dress from the the AW06 The Widows of Culloden collection. Amanda Seyfried’s sustainable all-silver Prada gown bedecked with three-dimensional pink and silver roses and finished with a silver painted Josephine Baker-esque eton crop hairstyle and a silver leaf crown was upcycled from the SS09 collection. Balenciaga dressed Nicole Kidman in a tiered dress inspired by an archival 1951 number the actor had seen in an old Richard Avedon photograph and asked Demna to reinterpret. It featured a white satin corseted bust and train worn over layers and layers of filly black tulle.

Rosalia stepped out in an all-black Dior look with a Stephen Jones netted veil. The rather simple, bustier, tailcoat and straight skirt set took 1800 hours of atelier time to complete. Paloma Elsesser wore H&M with a corset referencing Shaun Lean’s metal rose corset for Givenchy by McQueen circa SS09, but this version was crafted with dilapidated silver and green like the oxidation of copper paired with a draped ivory skirt. Penélope Cruz donned a black Chanel couture evening gown and train embellished with eight different types of French floral laces, requiring 500 hours to make. Inspired by AW07 Prada, Brie Larson’s glistening Prada dress featured a crystal embroidered orange underlay beneath a lilac gossamer crin. Naomi Campbell’s tessellated baby blue Burberry dress was made for dancing while South London starlet Raye wore a strapless silver Fendi couture number that tapped into Old Hollywood glamour. Sydney Sweeney’s sky blue princess gown dazzled with passels of blue, black and white flora. The Miu Miu creation came paired with a black bob wig that felt more akin to Snow White than Sleeping by Beauty. It was splendid.

Kendall Jenner in Vintage Givenchy
Jennie Kim in Alaïa
Emma Chamberlain in Jean Paul Gaultier
Zendaya wears Maison Margiela Artisanal
Zendaya wears Vintage Givenchy by John Galliano
Tyla in Balmain
Penelope Cruz in Chanel
Gigi Hadid in Thom Browne
Taylor Russell in Loewe
Brie Larson in Prada
Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga
Lana Del Rey in Alexander McQueen
Raye in Fendi
Sydney Sweeney in Miu Miu
Rosalia in Dior