Met Gala kicks off with marching band, breathtaking fashion

Billie Eillish went full glam in a huge peach ball gown at the pandemic-delayed Met Gala on Monday night, while fellow host of the evening Amanda Gorman was breathtaking in blue custom Vera Wang with a diamond laurel wreath in her hair.

A third of the gala’s hosts, Timothée Chalamet raced onto Fifth Avenue to take selfies with fans before walking up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for his entrance after a marching band and gymnast kicked off the long-awaited evening.

The official theme of the fundraisers for the museum’s Costume Institute was “American Independence,” leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

Chalamet had sneakers on his feet but diamonds on his look. Gorman’s dress, which included more than 3,000 hand-sewn crystals was made to evoke a starry night sky. She told Vogue she felt like Lady Liberty, reimagined. Her crown, the star poet said, was a nod to publishing.

Chalamet called his look “a bit of everything.” Dan Levy took the party’s theme to the extreme in a blue confection. Leon Bridges honored his home state of Texas in a white cowboy hat and a blue suede fringe jacket.

“It’s all about embodying the aesthetic of Texas,” said Bridges, with jewels in his hair.

Among other walkers were Keke Palmer in a stunning, earth-tone body hugger with a train, while Ilana Glazer took her moment on the steps in feathery long sleeves and a creamy, high-neck gown. Both were hosts of Vogue’s livestream of the gala.

Yara Shahidi wore silver custom Dior complete with a head piece. She said she was inspired by Josephine Baker. Emma Chamberlain went for a gold mini with cutouts at the waist and chunky mirror and chain detail.

Gala overseer Anna Wintour arrived early with a wave to the crowd accompanied by her pregnant daughter, Bee, in a floral design with ruffles at the neck.

The gala, which raises money for the museum’s Costume Institute, was pushed last year from its traditional May berth and morphed this year into a two-part affair. It coincides with the opening of “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” the first of a two-part exhibition at the Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center.

Organizers invited 400 guests, or about a third the number that usually attend.

This year, the gala is co-chaired by Chalamet, Eilish, Gorman and Naomi Osaka. Honorary chairs are Tom Ford, sponsor Instagram’s Adam Mosseri and Vogue’s Wintour, the latter the doyenne of the Met Gala since 1995.

The two-part gala marks the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. The Met Gala raises the bulk of the institute’s annual funding, including a larger gathering scheduled for May 2. That date reclaims the first Monday in May for the gala and will celebrate the exhibition’s second part, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” in the period rooms of the museum’s American Wing.

Considered fashion’s biggest night, A-list guests from music, film, TV, tech and beyond are encouraged to embrace the theme of the new exhibition each year as they slowly make their way up the museum’s red-carpeted stairs. Interpretation is everything when it comes to how they dress — and how they enter.

Billy Porter shut down the red carpet in 2019 when he arrived in sun god gold on a litter carried by six shirtless men in an ode to Ancient Egypt when the theme was high camp. It was the same year Lady Gaga stripped down to a bedazzled black bra and matching undies before the media throng after designer Brandon Maxwell helped her out of three clothing changes, including a huge pink outer layer that ballooned in the breeze.

The Met Gala — short for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala — raised more than $13 million in 2019 for the Costume Institute, which is the Met’s fashion department. It’s the museum’s only curatorial department that has to fund itself and has an important friend in Wintour, who tends the guest list. She has raised so much money for the Costume Institute over the years (with estimates up to $200 million) that the wing now bears her name.

Tickets cost $30,000-plus, but that doesn’t mean the stars ante up. They’re often hosted by brands and companies that buy tables for thousands more and are accompanied by top designers who dress them.

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Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie

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