Wednesday, May 4, 2011

2011 Met Ball - the best of, with fashion tips for YOU

Hello my lovelies

Firstly I want to assure you that this blog will not be a full time event frock commentary blog...however since I started it last week & we have had some fashion-y events - its appropriate for addition, while the blog will evolve over time, it will always be about fashion, image & helping you look your best.

My passion today is the New York Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is without a doubt the fashion world's Oscars, super serious red carpet worthy stuff. Heavy duty designer fashion - unbelievable out of the stratosphere fashion. The event this year was done in honour of the work of arguably the best designer ever to be produced by the UK - the deceased Alexander McQueen.

Here is a brief image of the set up....jealous? I am, pity my invite was lost in the least i HAD an invite....

I am going to list my Top 10 in each of three categories - the Bullet trains, the Train wrecks & the Horse drawn carriages. However I wont list them in any particular order, but occasionally I will be so impressed with the calibre of the look that I will give it a special nomination for outstanding performance in its category.

Now to give you a flavour of each category....


Smart, sleek, efficient, in short breathtaking & perfect. These frocks will hit the mark on both colour (flattering their complexions) and shape/style (flattering their unique bodies). These are the frocks which hit both these targets & both are bulls eyes.


Grab a dictionary, look up "what was she thinking?".....there will be a photo of this dress.... Poor fit, unflattering colour, unflattering style and sadly, most of the time, any dress in this category has all these characteristics.....ridiculous & often funny! Definitely sad.


Perhaps I should explain this every high fashion event there are some very very strange dresses (to put it mildly) - my ex used to call them "fashion for fashion's sake"....lets just say thats one of the reasons he is in the "ex files"....these clothes are designed to inspire, to shock, to set the tone of the brand & to promote a feeling of the wonderfulness of the one ever intended they be worn to anything other than industry gigs, seriously.

Think of the runway shows in Paris, Milan, New York...they show both functional clothes but also some very unusual stuff. I call the unusual stuff, the horse drawn carriages...they are unique, precious and special. Day to day they certainly dont belong on the highways and the freeways. But they are used for special occasions when a special route is carved out just for them. You wont see ordinary vehicle son these special routes.

Typically the horse drawn carriages dont flatter shape & sometimes (unfortunately) they dont flatter complexions. But they are amazing & special in a sartorial aspect and thats why we appreciate them. I didnt want to dump them in the train i created this special category for them. Oh & in case it crossed your mind, men (unless they are gay) absolutely definitely dont "get" this category.

hhmmm...dear readers, I can see you now about to shut this blog down, saying "Val, I dont go to balls, why should I look at pictures of gowns?" DONT SHUT DOWN. KEEP READING.....We are going to apply the ordinary principles of flattery to the Met gowns & (this is the important keep reading...) and these are the EXACT IDENTICAL principles you should be applying to your ordinary every day clothes - whether for work or weekend or evening. Trust me, its easier to see these "dos" and "donts" from photos, often easier than when looking at our wardrobe (too many clothes, nothing to wear & its all a mess and you have so many things to do that day, you'll think about your wardrobe later...)......well now that I have your attention, lets do some work here we go...


Wendy Murdoch in Alexander McQueen
Colour is perfect for her. It shows her figure & the ruching hides any lumps & bumps whatsoever and its nicely formed on her body...not too loose...
PS: & doesnt she look SO much better when she doesnt have that wrinkly Rupert next to her...hehehe

speaking of loose.....
Remember Rebecca Gibney at the 2011 Logies (Aussie equivalent of the Emmys) in Lisa Ho? the ruching was too loose around the waist & made her look column-y rather than shapely.
here's the photo....well Wendy M executed it so much better than Rebecca...

Sophie Vergara in Carolina Herrera....i am trying to assess the look neck down because if i include her head, she is so darned pretty, that even a potato sack would look good.

This is unusual & pretty & shows her form & is fitted nicely to her curves (no spillage etc)

Sarah Jessica Parker in Alexander McQueen...I have popped this in the hits to make a point of distinction. There were loads of beige nude-y frocks on the night...this one has a lovely shape on her, but I think the colour is wrong for her...she glows in warm colours (yellow undertones) - this is a cool taupe-y shade (blue undertones) & I think it honestly makes her face drained of colour...Be warned...whether the shade is cool or warm can make or break a look.....

Salma Hayek in Alexander McQueen

Flattering shade, flattering shape, emphasises her tiny waist...& skirt isnt too poofy & hippy...there is a bit of emphasis on the boobs, but overall I think its a winner.
SH is married to French billionaire Fran├žois-Henri Pinault - who is chairman and CEO of multi national holding company which owns brands Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen (50%), Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, Stella McCartney (50%).
Can you imagine her wardrobe choices? WOW!

Rumer Willis - this girl has a hard job - more often than not, mum Demi Moore looks amazing & upstages daughter (mind you mum has had truckloads of she is cheating a bit).
But here, Rumer nails it. Bullseye. PS: Someone said the bustier looks like its losing a battle with gravity - IMO, it has so much corset structure, there is no way that baby will fall down & a little bit of over exposure on a young one like that is A OK. Go Rumer!

Penelope Cruz in Oscar de la Renta, lovely, fresh, elegant.

Nicole Miller in her own design.
I think this is perfect - it stands out from a sea of plain colours & the beauty of prints (especially on an older body) is that they hide many body sins. I think this is perfect. You may get some people saying large florals are not appropriate for formals - well if they look like this - they are appropriate.

ditto Emma Stone in Lanvin...even the scruffy hair doesnt, love love.
Couch chintz - wash your mouth out!

Naomi Watts in Stella McCartney.

Great colour for her, form fitting & her form is lovely. So showing it off is the right thing to do. The only thing to think about - if she has a meal or dessert, & it starts lumping, its not a good look....nothing that the right support & sucking in foundation garments cant fix.

Melania Trump in Reem Acra with jewellery and clutch by Alexander McQueen
She is wearing a look thats been around for ages - top to toe column with a high looks great on her...the sparklies soften the look around the breasts (which are large & can look too large in a high neck top)....& because her boobs are big, she isnt doing the sheer thing up top - she has an inbuilt cami to no doubt support her....I love this.

Joan Smalls in Tom Ford - same look - top to toe column - perfect...

notice also Joan's the boobs look good? risky with sheer in Gwyneth ....remember this? it was Alexander McQueen at the 2002 Oscars...yuck...

Maggie Q in Tadashi Shcoji - perfect, pretty, shapely.
The only critcism is that her face looks a bit stretched least its not the frock!

Lily Aldridge in Ralph Lauren Collection - bias cut silk satin....she has the figure to carry this off....& the fabric has enough weight & does look rumpled (unlike a similar one on XXXXX Train wrecks)

Leighton Meester in Louis Vuitton dress and shoes
This is a fierce look & she pulls it off beautifully, in fact she looks almost soft becasue she is pretty. Her body is shaped nicely, not messy with jewellery around the neck & the shoes are perfect & on trend. oh & the dress has enough structure to keep everything well formed & it!

Lea Michelle - I am gleeful about this - gorgeous & while the fabric is matt, the diagonal seaming gives it interest & moves the eye up & down...ANYTHING that moves the eye up & down is slimming. Great choice.

Jessica Alba in Ralph Lauren Collection - she is glowing & I think its not just the pregnant thing - it also because the shade is good for her.

the fabric reminds me of another Ralph Lauren Collection Cate Blanchett in Spring 2007....

Jennifer Hudson in Vera Wang....perfection, great colour, great shape...super flattering

Gwyneth Paltrow in Stella McCartney - perfection - its a warm toned beige & thats what she needs - perfect.

Rachel Evan Wood in Gucci - glowing, shapely sprinkling of sparkly bits, great color, love, love, love

Elizabeth Banks in Tommy Hilfiger....i adore this and its nice to see TH doing more than preppy separates. Note how well the gold works with her skintone? - she needs warm tones & the gold is just that, perfect & the shape is great...

Doutzen Kroes in Giambattista Valli - a statuesque dress for a statuesque woman - simple (read minimal) accessories, lovely

Diane Kruger in Jason Wu, again no accessory bling because the dress has enough going on.
Very old world Hollywood, very lovely.

My personal Fave - Dakota Fanning in Valentino Couture - a teenager who gets it right pretty much all the time...(gee I sound old, huh?), but I am seriously impressed with this young lady....

Christina Hendricks Carolina Herrera
I think this is lovely on her & I love the hair match.
Also how she uses the black bands around the waist ( to minimise her middle)
Others have critised it...I love it. Thoughts?

Brooklyn Decker all Michael Kors dress, bag, shoes
Perfect & young & fun.
I love the use of the minimalist trend - but best of all? The fact that she has the correct support underwear to keep her silhouette smooth & beautiful. I think the lesson here is that you have to start with good foundation garments.

Ashley Greene in custom Donna Karan & a Judith Leiber clutch
Love this. What's not to love?

Aerin Lauder in custom Calvin Klein...perfection.

Bea Schaffer (Anna Wintour's - Ed in chief of US Vogue) in Balenciaga
Bea constantly says she isnt really interested in fashion - but every time I see her - she nails it.

Zoe Saldana in Calvin Klein Collection - darned near perfect.

Voila! There we have it....


Vera Wang in her own design
Yes she is painfully thin - but thats not the train wreck reason.
The reason is the colour - that chatreuse makes her look positively ill look at her face - its devoid of colour & dark and shadow-y. eerrggkkk
A colour that makes you look this ill is a hospital colour - ambulance please!

Stella Tennant in Chanel
She may be a supermodel, but she looks like crap - no figure showing, colour drains her, its blobby & take a closer look at the bag (jack in the box?) & the shoes (bandages?)

Solange Knowles in Dries Van Noten
So near yet so far...I love the dress - the vibrant print, the shape, even the pockets - its looks great...but neck up..agghhhh..the hair is a definite train wreck to the whole look. What a shame...

Serena Williams in Oscar de la Renta
Same as Solange...could have been a hit if she wasnt a card carrying member of the Princess Beatrice Unflattering Headwear Society.....seriously, what is it with that spikey thing and could she use it to head butt someone to death?

Also here you see the MOST preventable fashion faux par on the planet - bad posture...easy to fix & for a photo opp like the Met Ball...shame, shame, shame Serena....

Sarah Burton in Alexander McQueen
I know she is the darling of the fashion world thanks to Catherine & Pippa Middleton, but does that give her the right to inflict such visual torture on us with this Zha Zha Gabour dressing gown thing? Surely not.

Renee Zellweger in Carolina Herrera
Apart from being painfully thin - Renee sticks with this lovely New York designer & usually gets it right on target. So why is it here on the trainwreck list? Its the colour. She looks like a wash out...everything else is lovely, so why stuff it up on colour? I dont get it. She should know better.
And Carolina is so close to her, she should have staged an intervention!!

Rosario Dawson in black sequinned long sleeve column dress by Diane von Furstenberg (Forevermark jewels). Why train wreck? too plain, too all over black (especially waist up where the eye focuses) & it doesnt even show off her fine form.

Someone once told me to look elegant for evening you should show either shape or skin. If you show both you'll probably nail slutty. Well I dont think she gets to either of these targets....

Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace doing pregnant boho in her usual style.
Two things land her on the train wreck awards list - the beading around the boob area looks gross - makes her boobs look (unflatteringly large). Second, that jewel thing on her head...another card carrying member of the Princess Beatrice Unflattering Headwear Society - & probably only because (like Princess Beatrice) she is wearing it dead centre on her a barette on the side it would have been lovelier....

Joy Bryant in Missoni
Quite a lovely piece, nicely shaped, flattering but knits like this do not belong to black tie balls.
I know that you can wear sequins during the day & pretty much anything goes these days, but if you're going to err on the side of being over dressed or under dressed, please, please chose the former. And this just doesnt cut it.

Jenna Lyons in a J Crew sweater.
Sure she is the company's creative director & has done amazing things for the brand (would love to see it down under....), but this is either a piss take or totally unacceptable. I am too scarred to track down the skirt designer (skirt is perfect for such an event, but it is crying, for being matched with that sweater....)

Arizona Muse in Altuzarra
Apart from the shapeless shift factor, she shot into the trainwreck list as a result of her shoes. Pretty...if were Suri Cruz....

Alicia Keys in Givenchy Haute Couture...if she just removed the clumpy jacket (body armour?), it may look a whole lot better (even the colour is good for her)....but as is? the empire waist dress is making her look short in the body & the jacket is doing no favours to that look...Hubert de Givenchy would turn over in his grave...

the lovely man pictured here....

and you know what comes to mind?.....Jennifer Hudson below....another weird clumpy jacket (tin foil? sardine can lid?) on a soft chiffony frock...its an Oscar de la Renta...

but it looks SO much better on a thinner, more long waisted person.....

Ginnifer Topshop Unique (upper end Topshop brand)....if she was going for the little green leprechaun look, she nailed it...& the matching green eye shadow...yuck!

Freida Pinto in Chanel Couture....i know this dress would cost in the vicinity of 30K to 80K. But was Karl Lagerfeld trying to play a joke on her? think he succeeded...just makes him look like a goose in the process....yuck.

Eva Mendes in Stella McCartney....please dont remind me that Stella was in the top 3 of preferred designers for the 2011 Met (with Chanel & of course, Alexander McQueen)...but Eva is a voluptuous va va voom girl....she has assets! why hide them in this pleated curtain? another example of someone not showing off their good bits to their best...

Fergie in 80s bride. I rest my case.

They say that looks come back if you wait long enough...but IMO, most of the time, they come back with tweaks...the big shoulders of the last few seasons were not quarterback look of the 80s (front line forward for the Aussies)..they are sleeker, and more sculptured (not poufy)

Like this (Balmain) - Fergie take note.

Chrissy Teigen in Chris March...I have never heard of this designer and if this creation is typical, I am glad....Las Vegas showgirl?

Christina Ricci in Zac Posen....this does her no favours. And the stringy hair....when did the heroin chic look come back? Sure its fashion forward but I cant see that its quite makes it into the coveted horse drawn carriage just looks sad & dreary

Carolyn Murphy in Tom Ford (with Tom Ford).
This model has been around for ages & always presents a lovely fresh clean look. Apart from what's happening to her face (lets not even go there).....what is going on with that dress? she is normally super classy & this just looks bordello like...also is she pregnant? looks like it...but we have seen pregnant done SO much better by others...

Britt Maren (I have NO idea who she is) in Nicole Ritchie's House of Harlow (with Nicole Ritchie). A word of advice which will help get you off the train wreck list - iron your frock. Notice how the top is smooth but the bottom is crumpled...please dont be this woman!

Amy Adams in L'Wren Scott (aka partner of Mick Jagger)...she is a strawberry blond with warm yellow) tones in her skin ...but she is wearing a dress with cool (blue tones)....very very wrong....why, why, why?

Barbara Walters - my personal fave trainwreck by far
3 things come to mind.
- curtains
- hideous brocade curtains
- Kermit the Frog

I have to let you in on a secret - BW has been a style icon of mine for many many years. The woman is over 70 & nails tailored & elegant class all the time (except for the Met ball).

For the Aussies who may not be as familiar with her fashion mode, here are some pics & I love them.

and thats why i cant understand the Kermit Curtains look.....can anyone explain?

Rosie Huntington in Burberry with Leighton jewels and Christopher Bailey (guru Burbery designer)....gorgeous girl but the frock is crumpled, saggy, unflattering....

And you know what? This dress in black (or any dark colour - navy, chocolate, maroon) may have looked a whole lot better....if you're in danger of getting it wrong, switch to a dark colour & you may in fact save yourself from a disaster....

Miranda Kerr in Marchesa...and Nicholas Kirkwood heels - Aussie fave clean cut model....usually gets it right (including babe Orlando Bloom) I know Black Swan inspired attire is cool, but this is too short & little too girly...its just not right....

in fact, it reminds me of Bjork's Swan dress....2001 Oscars.....

Michelle Williams in Miu Miu....industry people have applauded this....I dont....its dowdy .......

& black isnt her colour...think of her marigold Vera Wang for the 2006 Oscars....much better for someone with fair skin....

Here's a little statistic for you - black near the face doesnt suit about 50% of ladies who wear it.....its too harsh for the fair portion of the population....and as we get older, most of us need lighter or brighter shades near our face to make us look more, scarf, necklace perhaps? Alternatively, dark neutrals like navy, chocolate, charcoal and maroon instead? Think about it.

Keri Hilson in Atelier Versace...assuming the top part is good, I cannot forgive the toilet roll holder hem....

Lisa Alexander McQueen......this New York dermatologist fashionista has been my girl crush for as long as I can remember....she wore her first Chanel suit to her high school graduation and a Hermes Kelly orange ostrich bag to her college graduation....I am told she has all the top designers on speed dial & no matter how late she is to come home, she will try on every garment sent to her for approval that night & package & return the rejects the next day...sheer class act. I love her.

But I dont love this on her. It has the trademark McQueen padding (very respectful given the event was in honour of him) but in places that make her look 3 times bigger than her usual slight frame....I am all for padding that gets you in the "horse drawn carriage" or "bullet train" categories - but not for padding that lands you in the "fat" or the Dolly Parton categories....aka Trainwreck....

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stella McCartney...makes her lumpy around the hips & very strangely placed boobs....& dont tell me its the camera angle...for you lovely readers, i have looked at many photos of this confection & these results are the same in all....its the fitting, not the photo....try again young lady....

Amanda Brooks in Giambattista Valli...normally this Tuleh designer is quite eclectic and I am a bit conservative for her taste....but this is too Pollyanna for the Met Ball...& its not that flattering...what is under that fabric? who knows? I also know that capes are in, but this is weird restrictive & just undesirable.....unfortunately a Trainwreck

Chloe Sevigny in Alexander McQueen....Chloe is keeping true to her style here & I applaud that.....but the dress isnt fitting her right....excess fabric below the boobs may be a third boob (that may deserve an award in itself!), its pulling at the tummy.... and she is committing the cardinal sin of more mature women....cap sleeves (cutting off at the widest part of the upper arms) making the arms look, no, no.

There are enough wrongs here, I dont want to mention that dicky little bow at the neck. Lets move on....

Lucy Liu in Valentino Couture
I adore Valentino Garavani (despite his perma tan) and his designs - the man knows how to make a woman look like a lady.
But this looks like a feather factory exploded on Lucy.
Its too overwhelming for her slight frame & she is too skinny for it. It makes her look like a feather blob.
Please dont be this woman.

Gisele Bundchen in 2005 Alexander McQueen....before you think I have lost the plot, just read on....
This dress flattens her shape out & she almost looks completely up & down.....& she is known as a Brazilian statuesque model with boobs.....well not in this dress....

& again, I have looked at many photos of this model in this dress & they are all the same...its not the angle or the photographer...its the dress!

I preferred it when it was styled for UK Vague, oops, Vogue for Cate Blanchett....

Lily Donaldson in Erdem (with Erdem)...looking like she is wearing lace curtains or a weird milkmaid...cant explain this....

the only thing I can think its even close to, is Uma Thurman in 2004 Oscar highlight - Christian Lacroix couture milkmaid...

Dylan Lauren (daughter of Ralph) in Ralph Lauren Couture

Look closely - the belt is sitting below the seam at the waist, but only at the front of the dress...maybe its the weight of the diamond studded buckle? there is some serious bling at the Ralph store on Madison which opened about a year ago & this young lady would have access to it all...

Look further, the double sided tape has distorted the fabric at the bust...such a pity....

Blake Lively in Chanel couture. Perfect for a toga party.
She has a great body but this does nothing positive to her hips & legs.

Dree Hemingway in Calvin Klein Collection....where is her waist? I dont think this is a flattering impersonation of the 20s flapper bean pole body look

Juilianna Margulies in Narciso Rodriguez...this is way too harsh for her skin & she looks very pale...the nude lipstick doesnt help at all....doesnt she know the easiest way to look done without going to alot of trouble is to put lipstick on? (& I am not referring to nude lipstick girls!)

Julie Chen in lavendar chiffon. I cannot locate the name of the designer because no one is willing to take credit for this monstrosity.
Rule: Never wear lavender chiffon (unless you are Barbie), ever. Ever. No exceptions, ever. Ever.

Anna Wintour (editor of US Vogue & the apparent subject of The Devil Wears Prada book/movie), the high priestess of fashion in Chanel Couture....yes this is unusual & perhaps should be included in the Horse Drawn Carriages list.....jury's out on that....

until I saw the half first instance it looks like she is exposing her breasts....yep, trainwreck....

Lastly, Rihanna in Stella far, not too bad...(assuming you can forgive the braid thing)

pretty girl, lovely choice of earrings...shoot - that plait again...gggrrr......

...but then i saw this.....or should I say....butt then i saw this.....definite trainwreck.....


Stella McCartney in Stella McCartney
All that comes to mind is that since it doesnt look creased, this photo is definitely taken before she sat to dinner or even went to the toilet. & she must have gotten dressed within walking distance...positively annoying...but in terms of sculpture, a definite horse drawn carriage....

Shalom Harlow in Marchesa
Strange but definitely a see through horse drawn carriage....

Shalom has the good sense not to sit the barrette right at the centre front of her forehead (aka Princess Beatrice of York) girl....quite lovely

Naomi Campbell in Alexander McQueen, unflattering (her waist looks like a tree trunk) but a divine horse drawn carriage......if I put it in train wrecks she would probably have a tantrum & hit it stays in horse drawn....

Karolina Kurkova in Jena Paul Gaultier Couture
Personally I loved the dark haired model version on the runway I being unprofessional by being swayed by hair colour? probably, oops. Tough - its still a horse drawn carriage on Karolina

and its runway model

Raquel Zimmerman Alexander McQueen (street sweeping anyone?)

Iman in Stella McCartney
Disco anyone? & not my fave but still a horse drawn carriage....

Daphne Guiness in Alexander McQueen Couture
Me likely, likely this one

She was photographed in this 6 months ago for Harpers Bazaar (the B&W photo)
& actually put the dress on for the Met event in the window of Barneys New York

Yep - Daphne dressed in the Barneys New York window for the Met gala....Apparently she entered the window in a sequined gold Alexander McQueen jumpsuit. Then she flopped on a lucite table in front of her and casually "swam" across it and struck poses at random. Sounds like normal behaviour to me....Then after a few minutes of this she went behind a semi-opaque screen and undertook alot of hip gyrating and sexy shadow-making. The gown had also been hanging in the window in full view, so a female servant assistant brought it to her behind the screen and assisted her in dressing (all behind the screen). Then Daphne emerged in the gorgeous, feathered McQueen confection, her face wrapped in tissue.

Florence Welch in YSL on the arm of Stephano Pilati, YSL's head designer
This one deserves a special mention -its quite divine but its totally see through. If it wasnt see through, it could well be a bullet train contender. But the fact that its so see through & she would get arrested wearing it in public actually means it may well be a train wreck my decision is that it stays here, as a horse drawn carriage.....

This quandry reminds me of a frequent life quandry which applies to shopping for clothes, accessories, furniture, white goods, cars, you name it. If you are undecided & are uuumming & ahhhing, walk away - DONT BUY IT. Sleep on it. Most likely it'll be forgotten the next day.

You see "dont know" really means "no".....cut your losses before they start & run. That sounds like a boyfriend scenario, but thats another story, blog...hahaha.

Elle Fanning (baby sister of Dakota) in Valentino...weird shape...weird shoes...cute kid

Anna Dello Russo in Alexander McQueen...hmm..the hat? the rest?
This get up is very normal for her....she lives in the horse drawn carriage category.

A complete fashionista, Anna Dello Russo is currently the Editor At Large and creative consultant for Vogue Japan and has spent about 18 years with Italian Conde Nast/Vogue as fashion & general editor.

Andre Leon Talley
Cape Balenciaga, suit by Ralph Lauren, shirt by Charvet and shoes by Roger Vivier
Wow! What spunk!

and with that I bid you good bye for now.

I would like it if you argued with some of my choices though!

PS: In case you didnt notice there were more than 10 choices in all categories - considerably more in bullet trains, even more in train wrecks & eleven in Horsedrawn Carriages. My apologies for not keeping to the limit - but this isnt a school essay with a word limit. And its all mostly pictures, so you should stop complaining too!

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