In our digital world when a strong visual image enters into our collective imagination, it remains there for ages, no matter how many other pictures we will be bombarded with. Take Rihanna posing for the paparazzi in her yellow egg yolk cape by Guo Pei at last year's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala. Fashionistas were mesmerised, but so were people who don't usually follow trendy events.
Yet it is extremely difficult to keep up high standards and it is almost impossible to recreate a perfect moment. Despite the great expectations and the theme of the new Costume Institute exhibition, - "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" - things fell a bit flat on yesterday's Met Gala red carpet.
Dress code at the Met Ball red carpet was "tech white tie" and you really expected that the hand-made vs machine-made dichotomy would have inspired amazing pieces like the ones the curator in charge Andrew Bolton picked for the exhibition, but, even though most celebrities were clad in Haute Couture designs, the results were quite often extremely bizarre or simply poor.
Silver and metallic shades prevailed; quite a few young actresses including Alicia Vikander were incredibly vilified by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton's designs that looked like horrid assemblages of leftover fabrics matched with thick boots; Maria the gynoid out of Metropolis may have been the starting point for Givenchy's outfit for Madonna, but highlighting and revealing her bosom and bum wasn't a stylish idea at all.
Lady Gaga forgot her pants and matched her Versace jacket (with patterns that vaguely reminded of computer circuits) with perilously high platform boots; Claire Danes donned a Zac Posen dress that looked like a Charles James gown made with an optical fibre-based organza that lights up (did Posen copy the idea from Federico Sangalli?).
You really needed a lot of imagination to guess that what Sarah Jessica Parker was wearing was supposed to be an 18th-century-inspired men’s suit, and it remains a mystery why Kanye West decided to opt for ridiculous iridescent blue contact lenses. Katy Perry added a tamagotchi to her Prada gown; Gucci's Alessandro Michele and Gucci clad Jared Leto, Florence Welch and Dakota Johnson looked as if they had come out of a time machine (ah maybe that was the tech trick...) that had transported them from Studio 54, while Gigi Hadid in Tommy Hilfiger and Zayn Malik in a Versace suit with armoured sleeves tried to turn themselves into the perfect robotic couple, though their unconvinced faces ruined the spell.
Among the most puzzling things seen on the red carpet there was also Marchesa fabled dress created in collaboration with IBM's Watson cognitive system and donned by model Karolina Kurkova. Unfortunately it looked like an ordinary tulle Marchesa gown in a dusty gray shade, covered with white appliqued flowers that intermittently lit up with LED lights in perfect Christmas tree style.
You really wonder why after analysing hundreds of images of Marchesa's gowns, endless colour palettes and types of fabric, Watson came up with this. Apparently the LED-powered colours on the gown were determined by what people were saying about the Met Gala, Marchesa, IBM, and the dress on Twitter, which must have been pretty boring since the dress doesn't seem very lively on many of the pictures taken by the paparazzi (you may get more or less the same effect by wrapping a row of Ikea's garden lights around a dress...).
Bolton surveyed, analysed and studied each of the 170 garments on display at the "Manus x Machina" exhibition and many more, wondering how they were made and what was the message behind them, proving through the designs that fashion is art, a statement strengthened by Andrew Rossi's docu-film "The First Monday in May".
Yet this red carpet was a bit of a total comedown with the rich and the beautiful looking quite often extremely ridiculous in dubious designs characterised by unconvincing silhouettes, shapes and materials. As the arty narratives that Bolton put together in the exhibitions he recently worked on went more or less missing in action on the red carpet, you finally had an epiphany moment: if the real arty fashion is locked inside a museum, what's outside on the red carpet symbolises the current state of the fashion industry - a veritable, chaotic and unstylish mess.
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