by John Russel Jones

Watching The Met Gala’s online coverage last night, I kept thinking that the celebrity world — even with all their help from designers and stylists — must be feeling a lot like the rest of us right now. We’re heading back to work (I know, I know…a gala may not sound like “work,” but for this crowd it is), everything is different, and we’re not entirely sure how we’re supposed to dress! Although there were of course some extreme costumes (it is the Costume Institute after all), that looked as at home on Fifth Avenue as they might on the set of a science fiction movie (although perhaps a bit more appropriate for the latter), a lot of the men at the event were just trying to eke out their version of the White Tie as influenced by the Gilded Age requirement on the invitation. And just like a lot of us, I felt like they landed in three camps: 1) Totally nailed it! 2) Played it safe (but I still look good), and 3) Sigh. Well, there’s always next year. If Anna invites me back. 

Let’s start from “Sigh,” and work our way back: I think Riz Ahmed is one of the sexiest actors out there, and not just for the ripped body we saw in “Sound of Metal.” This, however, was not that. He even said, “This is an homage to the immigrant workers who kept the Gilded Age going.” I’m sorry, 4S Designs, but Ahmed may have looked completely comfortable, ready for his next WFH Zoom call, but he did not look like he was ready for the fashion industry’s annual prom. 

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Riz Ahmed attends "In America: An Anthology of Fashion," the 2022 Costume Institute Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

There were a lot of entries in the “Played it Safe” category: Kieran Culkin gave an endearing, if rough around the edges take on teen rebellion dressing, paring sneakers with his Dior tuxedo, which sort of works…for a 40-year-old. Pete Davidson, also in Dior, was barely recognizable in an austere look that was actually simply elegant. 

Then there was the “nailed it” camp: Those men who either let their innate sense of style shine through or who had wise sages to guide them through wardrobe. Two more Dior winners: Harris Dickinson in a vaguely gender-bending version of a tux that, to me at least, hinted at white tie’s tails requirement, and Thomas Doherty in a dove gray ensemble that seemed to step right from the pages of “The Age of Innocence.”

My top choice for the night, though, goes to Anderson .Paak (above), in a wild floral, embroidered Gucci jacket that was timeless, elegant, and celebratory. For the event, the jacket was paired with wide-legged leather pants, but I’m seeing it worn with faded denim or bright red track pants or any number of combinations to give the style some major sustainability points. That is if it didn’t end up being nabbed by the Metropolitan museum’s Andrew Bolton for the permanent collection before .Paak even had a chance to enjoy his dessert. 

Let’s raise a glass of champagne to everyone who attended the event: to those who tried, those who showed up, and not only for those who wore these lovely clothes, but also for the many, many people who toiled for hours to sew, embellish, weave, knit, or otherwise construct these garments, many of which are sure to hold a place in a museum themselves one day. 


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