The Red Carpet in Between

A platform from the show, photo by Eddie Lee for Hypebeast

Hi, all. We’re a bit behind in everything, due to some behind-the-scenes stuff here in the library. But I did want to post some coverage of New York City’s biggest fashion, museum, philanthropic, and arts event, the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Ball.

P. Diddy and Cassie, photo from Just Jared

The Costume Institute Ball has grown into an opportunity for fashionistas and celebrities to pull out all the stops and go for big drama entrances. It’s called “The Oscars of the East Coast” because it is the biggest arts or philanthropic event of the New York gala season, and it showcases the biggest names in fashion, the arts, the financial world (it is a benefit for the Costume Institute), and the museum world. As the New York 400 social set has given way to celebrities of television, film, and popular music, the invitations list has shifted somewhat, but it remains a Very Big Deal. Vogue magazine and the couture house of Chanel pay for it, and the proceeds provide the entire budget for the Costume Institute’s next year.

This year’s ball celebrated the opening of the show Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garcon Art of the In-Between.

Photo for Vogue

The fashion ideal at the Costume Institute Gala is that guests (carefully selected by Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue) need to make a strong visual statement, pay hommage to or (ideally) wear the designer whose work is being celebrated, and look fashionable and maybe elegant. Comme des Garcons is as much conceptual art as it is fashion, however, and dramatically at odds with the usual hyper-feminized starlet image. Consequently, few wore Kawakubo’s work to this event. So first, a shout out to some who braved it:

Pharell Williams and Helen Lasichanh, photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


Anna Cleveland
Helen Lasichanh & Pharrell Williams
Caroline Kennedy
Baz Luhrman
Julie Macklowe
Tracee Ellis Ross
Sofia Sanchez deBetak
Stella Tennant
Anybody notice anyone else?

And before you hate on Helen Lasichanh’s jumpsuit here, let me point out that it’s challenged your assumptions (which is Kawakubo’s point) about movement of the body and access to key body parts, like hands (as in the lack of cuffs/openings there). Plus, she’s created a completely different shape, making you think about the shape of a human, female body.


Tracee Ellis Ross, photo by Getty Images



IMO, I thought Sofia Sanchez and Tracee Ellis Ross made the most successful choices, but major props to Caroline Kennedy, Helen Lasichanh, and Rihanna for sheer moxie!

Note that many of the red carpet crew were guests of designers who were invited. Consequently, these guests were committed to wearing the work of the person who invited them. (Shoutout to TLo for making this excellent point.)

It was thoughtful of Just Jared to put together this short cheat sheet of who is wearing which designer…



Image from Exploregram


In order to process Kawakubo’s work for Comme de Garcons, I find it useful to think of her not as a fashion designer, but rather, as an artist who uses fabric collations to make us rethink our assumptions about the human body. Her work combines fashion history, technical mastery, and a deep connection with the creative zeitgeist as well as an anti-“pretty” aesthetic that make it thought-provoking and inspiring as well as off-putting (for many).

This NYT review of the exhibition does a good job of putting it into context.


So, back to our Red Carpet Bingo Page:

Rihanna in Comme des Garcon, photo from Just Jared

Oooh, Didn’t want to see that!      Kendall Jenner wins!
Frankendress:             I’m going with Cynthia Erivo, whose gown looked like it had been assembled from pieces parts (Although possibly big enough and in-between enough for the show)(and those arms, swoon!).
Skating Partners:      This would be Tom Brady and Gisele Bundschen in their silvery splendor.
Blond on Bland:         Oh, Gwyneth, go bigger or go home!
Yes, It’s Art, but…?   Totally giving this to Rihanna, along with the props for werquin’ it!
Mermaid Slink:          Emily Ratajkowski wins this, along with points for not Hollywoodizing her name. Sure, you coulda gone bigger, but…



Janelle Monae, photo from Tom & Lorenzo




Giant Meringue:    This belongs to Janelle Monae. I’d have kept the skirt a tad smaller, but at least she has the ovaries to carry it! Plus the feather collar was AMAAAZZing.
Woebegone Whimsey: This goes to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who looked both “Grandma’s attic” and joyless all evening.
Glinty Rocks:            Cara Delevigne! So sparkly!
When Ruffles Go Bad:  I’m giving this to Cassie Ventura for all those black spiky things!
Full Metal Frock:      Many contenders here: Sofia Coppola, Sofia Ritchie and Michelle Monaghan. Not my favorite, but at least glitzy enough for the occasion.
Tuxedo Tantrum:       This has to go to Alessandro Michele. Wow. Too many ideas, not enough balance.


Not Netflix ‘n Chill:    I hate to do this, but really, Pharell Williams, this was your show! Couldn’t you have stepped it up a bit?
Suited You:                    P. Diddy takes this one. Sharp, within Kawakubo’s color/geometric interests, entrance-making.
Achoo!                              Chrissy Teigen, so much meh in one over-designed dress!
Blood & Lipstick:         The one I love: Rita Ora <3. The one that makes me go, “Ugh!”: Thandie Newton. Ugh!
Pantsuit Prowess:       Amy Fine Collins wore the most successful of the mash-up conceptual gowns worn. And Evan Rachel Wood looked great. Formal, chic, with a bit of drama.
See Right Through Me:  Oh, Kylie Jenner, that was SOOO 2 years ago! This is the point where “fashion” stops meaning “clothing” and encompasses all forms of “self-decoration”. And also where we see clearly what Valerie Steele means when she discusses the commodification of the female body. This display shouts “I’m advantaged enough to maintain this ideal shell with ease!”

Rita Ora, photo by The Telegraph

Dear Prudence:  Why so many??? (see expanded “When did you join the convent?” below)
When I’m Famous!    Rita Ora’s gorgeous red wrapped dress made me drool! And I loved Zoe Kravitz’ hommage to “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds”!
Invisible Man:              There are always a lot of these, but I thought John Legend looked especially bland next to Chrissy’s over-the-top confection.
Con is Next Door –>   Yeah. Nicky Minaj, that was not a success. Celine Dion, a tad more so, but it needed more or less of *something*, not sure what. And Amy Shumer? No. I love you, but you are not a super villain.
Not 12 Anymore!          Elle Fanning looked particularly like she had chosen a spare Belle costume from Beauty and the Beast.
Sketch was Terrific, but… Laura Osnes, I’m sure that dress is a technical masterpiece, but …





Some shout outs in the category of “Hommage at least, if not wearing the actual”:
Hailey Steinfeld’s Vera Wang;
Gigi Hadad’s Tomy Hilfiger (I liked this one so much better than Priyanka Chopra’s Lauren. Maybe because it played with texture more?);
Migos with their luscious layers of black on black on black;

Migos, photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Cynthia Erivo and Adwoa Aboah for their proportion-tangling white gowns;
Lilly Collins, pageboy and sharp/soft juxtaposition;
Amy Fine Collins, for a mixture that managed to also look sleek;
Jourdan Dunn and Clare Danes for their clever menswear deconstructionist mashups;
Solange for the pure architectural weirdness of her Thom Browne puffer;
and finally, the grand prize winner, Katy Perry, in her Galliano-designed Chinese/hip hop/lingerie bride look. Wow. That took ovaries!

In the category of, “When did you join the convent?” we have some notable entrants…
Jennifer Lopez. Really, girl? We *know* you know how to swim in the shark pool.
Kim Kardashian: A look so simple it can only be seen as making an anti-statement.
Felicity Jones: Sheer meets Victorian, but why here?
Mindy Lahiri: You wear more interesting clothes in your show weekly! So disappointed.
Karen Elson: Disney safe, to be sure.
Stacy Martin: A Tim-Burton nightgown?
Zoey Deutch: Save it for a fundraiser in the Hamptons!
Sarah Paulson: A little less Audrey Hepburn here, please!

I’m curious, though. There is a point to their understated choices. In the face of the extreme shapes and colors of this event, these gowns act sort of like normcore: a protest in their conventionality. I think it’s a timid answer, but maybe it’s still a strong statement.

I have a category this go ’round that is “Wow, you were at a completely different event than the Met Gala for Rei Kawakubo, weren’t you!”, aka “YOU TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT!”.
Some winners in this category included…
Zendaya: Very pretty, but huh?
Gwyneth Paltrow: pink cardboard cocktail gown here?
Jennifer Connoly: this isn’t lunch out with your great aunt.
Miranda Kerr: save it for the next remake of “Roman Holiday”!

Back to the work at the center of the occasion:

The ClothesNotClothes vitrine, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

For some other pieces of the occasion:

Kardashian selfie, from Gala bathroom

The Instagram studio

The actual celebrity party:


Many sites covered this event. These are some of my favorites:

For a sideways look at all of this, filtered through math and science:

Have a lovely evening! Here’s the bingo card again so you can play along with Cannes sightings!

Just for reference…



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Winding Down, Moving Homes

Hi, everyone,

I just wanted to take a moment to report on preparations going on here in the library. There’s a lot going on here in the Periodicals universe. And in the FIT universe. I have also been working on a ton of new articles, but I keep getting interrupted by events here. So:

The Periodicals and Electronic Resources Department, currently on the 6th floor of the Gladys Marcus Library, will be moving to the 4th floor of the library this coming summer. We hope that a new space will provide brighter and easier access to our collections, and make available some great new workspaces on the 6th floor.

The bad news is, in order to make this happen, the PERS department will be closed from May 30 until August 20. This also means that the Periodicalistas will be moving offices so we can be near our regular work with the collection. We’ll post more contact details once we have them worked out. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this might pose to you or your students.

I’ve been working on a review of the Red Carpet from the Met Gala last week, and that will be up shortly, complete with my Red Carpet Bingo card choices and a bunch of links to other reviews and commentary.




I’ve also been working hard on a Magazine of the Week for both this week and last. Since this title, Vogue Patterns, is related to our popular Needles in the Stacks series, I wanted to do some meaty research on the review. That should be out tomorrow or the next day.






I put up some of my pics of FIT Fashion Design students’ work from Choosing Day, just in time for the actual Future of Fashion Show last night. You can still watch it (or watch it again) if you like.

And I’ve continued my work on the promised articles on new lingerie designers and some rethought lingerie styles. There’s just so many wonderful things going on here that it’s hard to keep up.  But watch this space!




The sweaters and sportswear on the left are by FIT Fashion Design students. The babydoll nightie on the right is from Nubian Skin, a company I will be talking about in my next Word-Worthy Women post in a week or two.

On top of all that, we continue to subscribe to cool new titles to inspire and inform your design choices. Stop up and take a look (before June 1)!




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FIT: Future of Fashion

On April 25, I posted about the brief open house where students and members of the public alike can look at the final projects of the 2017 graduating class of Fashion Design students. I went over there to take a look, and I wanted to share the pictures I took. Tonight FIT streams the final, edited Future of Fashion 2017 show at 7:00pm, east coast time.

For those of you reading who are not in the FIT world daily, students at FIT go through a base curriculum that lasts one year (intensive) or two years, and provides the base for a range of related programs. In their second year, students can apply for Upper Division, which offers more in depth courses and a bachelor degree upon completion.



Students choose from an art specialization, or Children’s Wear, Intimate Apparel, Knitwear, Special Occasion, Sportswear tracks within the overall apparel specialization.












Choosing Day, when I took these pictures, is the only time that the public and other students and faculty get to see the projects these students have worked on. It’s a treat to see the different ways students’ minds work.







I regret that my viewing time was rushed, so I didn’t get the names of the individual students who produced these works. Please feel free to identify and tag your work in the comments.







I loved the felted texture of the sweater on the right and the creativity of using plastic spoons to create the flowers below.







FIT Fashion Design students finish out another stellar year! Congratulations to all!



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