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  14 Sep 2021, 10:27

Stars dazzle in defiant fashion at 'surreal' Met Gala

NEW YORK, Sept 14, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - New York is done with dressing down: the

splashy black-tie Met Gala returned Monday, with a cohort of Gen-Z's
glitterati hosting the A-lister bash famed for its over-the-top panache --
and, despite the pandemic, this year the fashion was so fierce one guest
wielded a sword.

   The crowd of some 400 actors, athletes, poets and performers -- all of
whom were either vaccinated or had tested negative for Covid-19 -- was
largely maskless on the cream carpet, defying the global coronavirus pandemic
that forced the cancellation of last year's event.

   "It's so surreal," US rapper Megan Thee Stallion, attending the Gala for
the first time and dressed by designer Coach to evoke old Hollywood glamor,
told AFP.

   "I feel like, oh my gosh, Houston, Texas we made it! ... I'm excited to be
here."

   But she did admit that it was "kinda weird" to be around so many people,
more than 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic.

   "I've kinda gotten used to being a little introvert like -- but I'm back
on side so I'm excited to see everybody," she said.

   Canadian musician Grimes, who was one of the few wearing a face mask, set
Twitter alight by carrying a sword -- perhaps to, as one user suggested,
"make sure people stay 6 ft away." US lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added
to the revolutionary spirit with a white off-shoulder dress, on the back of
which was written in scarlet capital letters: "Tax the rich" -- an
inflammatory statement at an event where tickets cost $35,000 apiece and
tables were up to $300,000.

   Singer Normani said her yellow Valentino gown "chose me."

   "I feel like a princes... sorry I'm breathing heavy, my waist is
snatched," she said. "I feel like... amazing. A Black queen."

   Rapper Lil Nas X stripped down to reveal not one, but three gold outfits,
singer Frank Ocean appeared with lime green hair and carrying what Twitter
users described as a "robot baby" and Simone Biles' glittering silver-and-
black dress was so heavy that the gymastics superstar could only climb the
stairs one foot at a time and needed six men to help her lift it.

   The rapper ASAP Rocky appeared wrapped in a patchwork quilt, which he said
was a sartorial message of unity.

   "We part of the same cloth, part of the same quilt, you know?" he said
with a grin -- later tossing the quilt to the ground to reveal a sharp black
suit underneath, to the delight of singer Rihanna, his date.

   One mysterious guest appeared head to toe in black -- her face, mouth,
eyes and head also covered, with only a long black ponytail visible, leading
many to identify her as reality star Kim Kardashian.

   "Maybe? We think it's her?" tweeted New York Times fashion critic Vanessa
Friedman.

   - 'Evolving language of fashion' -

   Actor Timothee Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish and
tennis player Naomi Osaka co-chaired the charity ball often heralded as the
celebrity world's "party of the year."

   Normally held in early May, the Manhattan soiree on steroids was postponed
to Monday with the hope that Covid-19 restrictions would be lifted. The 2020
edition was canceled due to the pandemic.

   The honorary co-chairs were Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue,
who has turned the gala into a global event, designer Tom Ford and Adam
Mosseri, director of Instagram, which is sponsoring the extravaganza.

   Plans for an opulent spectacle as much of the United States and the world
is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic had risked criticism, but the
primary reason for holding the benefit was almost certainly financial.

   The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute relies on the Met Gala
to fund its work, including exhibitions and acquisitions, and the
cancellation of last year's event badly damaged its finances.

   The bash heralded the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual
sartorial exhibit, which this year will happen in two parts.

   The first show, titled "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion," is opening to
the public September 18 to celebrate The Costume Institute's 75th
anniversary.

   The second exhibit -- "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" -- will kick
off May 5, 2022. Both will run until September 5 of that year.

   The exhibits themselves will see Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton
continue to explore broad themes -- "Camp," Catholicism and China were among
the focuses in recent years -- rather than offer retrospectives of a specific
designer.

   The two-part show will assess the state of American fashion -- its
contemporary players, the industry's identity, and important figures the
rarified world of fashion may have overlooked or left out.

   Bolton said the exhibit's first stage would focus on modernizing fashion
vocabulary in connection with "equity, diversity and inclusion," as part two
would see collaborations with American filmmakers to "further investigate the
evolving language of American fashion."

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