Insiders refer to the fete as "the party of the year" (shhh, don't tell Vanity Fair) and truly the movers and shakers of the fashion world all seem to RSVP. This year the gala celebrated the overlooked designer Paul Poiret's career and vision, as the Met is hosting a special exhibition of 70 pieces of his work May 9-August 5, 2007 (Poiret: King of Fashion, metmuseum.org for information). Poiret's influence can be seen in both the spring and fall runways, from turbans at Prada to the upcoming long, embellished dresses at Proenza. The designer is best known for releasing women from corsets, which couldn't be worn with his signature low-backed dresses, and clients like Josephine Baker adored his dramatic flair, seen in his harem pants, vivid color selections, and sack dresses.
Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, has served as the as the event's head since 1995. This year she was joined by Cate Blanchett and Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquiere as co-hosts as well as honorary chair Francois Henri Pinault of the Gucci Group (and Selma Hayek's fiancé/baby daddy to be).
There were numerous, notable trends from the event-no surprise there. A surprising number of attendees chose above the knee length dresses, including Kate Bosworth (Prada), Eva Mendes (Michael Kors), Julianne Moore (YSL from Fall 07), and model Irina Lazareanu (Phillip Lim). The three piece suits seen on Ellen Barkin (L'Wren Scott) and Iman (Stella) were an interesting surprise as was the turquoise jewelry Cameron Diaz and Mary Kate Olsen chose (it's baaaaack).
When it came to beauty, it seems that Anna Wintour's signature heavy, straight bangs informed many hair choices. Naomi Campbell (Azzedine Alaia), Christina Ricci (in Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein), and Ellen Barkin (again) all sported serious face fringe. Perhaps to contrast with the elaborate gowns, we also noticed lots of super casual hair-almost to the point of unkempt-on the sisters Olsen (both in Giambattista Valli), Chloe Sevigny (Balenciaga), and Hilary Swank (Versace).
Mary Kate Olsen: MK chose this black, feathered Lily et Cie by Rita Watnick gown paired with a large turquoise ring and dewy skin.
Shalom Harlow: One of our all time favorite models arrived with the designers of her Poiret-perfect dress-Viktor & Rolf.
Rihanna: Overall, white has been the season's most popular color choice for major events. Rihanna sported a snow-colored, Georges Chakra frock that showed off her skin.
Jessica Stam: Last year she selected Dolce & Gabbana for the Gala, this year she went for a Dior that hinted at Poiret via sleeve-detailing and a low-cut back.
Kate Bosworth: Fresh from a Hawaiian vacation, Bosworth looked youthful, age-appropriate, and in keeping with the spirit of the gala in her short Prada and 20's hair.
Margherita Missoni: This cranberry-ish shade was quite popular at the Gala this year, and we applaud Missoni's unusual, refreshing, unique dress choice.
Liv Tyler: The color of Tyler's Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein gown was jaw-dropping gorgeous.
Lucy Liu: One of our favorite dresses was this stunning, violet, Zac Posen number. Liu also had a grand accessory to boot; the designer himself was her date.
Stephanie Seymour: It's fitting that Seymour chose Azzedine Alaia, isn't it? Perhaps the trend that resonated most on Monday night was tiered ruffles, as seen on Seymour.