Bam! Pow! Society Superheroes Conquer The Big Swollen Ball

To the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Gala on Monday, May 5, themed “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy,” Gossip Girl star Blake Lively wore black gloves and a snug black Ralph Lauren gown involving feathers. She said that her favorite superhero was “Spider-Man. Cause he’s awesome! He gets to swing around, and, I don’t know….” Accompanied by her onscreen (and rumored offscreen) boyfriend, actor Penn Badgley, Ms. Lively had come straight from a photo shoot and had done her hair in the car. “I have no idea what I look like,” she said, adding: “I’ve always seen pictures growing up, being a teenager, and thought, ‘I’d love to go to that, a night just to dress up in ball gowns.’ And here I am!”

Here everyone was, at least in fashion and showbiz and society circles. Oh, to have the superpower of invisibility and be able to flit up the stairs and into the great halls beyond!

Vogue editor and hostess Anna Wintour was the first to arrive, at 6:33 p.m., wearing a Chanel gown adorned with what appeared to be seahorse tails and accompanied by daughter Bee Shaffer, who required two men, including the formidable Vogue editor at large André Leon Talley, to carry the train of her voluminous blue Nina Ricci dress up the stairs.

The commotion on the red carpet reached a high pitch—desperate shrieks! Blinding flashes!—when the evening’s two celebrity hosts, actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts, arrived with its underwriter and honorary chair, designer Giorgio Armani. Mr. Clooney’s girlfriend, former cocktail waitress Sarah Larson, smiled gamely while he bounced between television crews lining both sides of the carpet. Ms. Roberts, meanwhile, clung tightly to Mr. Armani and gazed around with a tight smile.

Fashion heiress Margherita Missoni arrived with actress Mischa Barton. (The red carpet reunited several Robins and Batgirls of teen dramas past, including Ms. Barton and Rachel Bilson [The O.C.] and Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes [Dawson’s Creek].) Ms. Missoni wore an “old Bulgari necklace from the ’80s,” she said in a breathy voice. “I actually was going to wear another dress, and when they brought this necklace in I changed my whole outfit.”

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen momentarily stopped traffic in a fabric-challenged nude Versace gown with visible side-boob. Jesus!

Spice Girl and perfume entrepreneur Victoria Beckham, meanwhile, wore an uncharacteristically modest vintage Armani white coat; she introduced herself and her soccer-playing husband David to mogul Harvey Weinstein before the duo posed with singer couple Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, who ran her hand suggestively down her husband’s buttocks.

More celebs! Beyoncé Knowles, Christina Ricci, Fergie, Kimora Lee Simmons and Djimon Hounsou, Eva Longoria, Sarah Silverman, Matt Dillon, Marc Jacobs, and Diane Kruger arrived. Also Scarlett Johansson, wearing a big rock, flanked by designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. The Olsen twins wore Diane Von Furstenberg and messy hair and ran up the stairs as if trying not to be noticed (whatever). Sex and the City hunk Jason Lewis said he was going deaf. Model Christy Turlington said she’d lost her voice.

Designer Phillip Lim came with teenage model-of-the-moment Chanel Iman, who was wearing a mustard-colored dress that matched her escort’s bow tie. “I’ve been here last year, and this is her first time here, so she’s the newbie,” he said, motioning to Ms. Iman. “And I’m like, you know, ‘Brace yourself.’” He looked around him. “Insane. On the inside it gets better, but this is pretty … it’s a lot of pressure.” His favorite superhero? Wonder Woman “Her empathy, her sympathy, her power, her invisible jet …”

Bam! Pow! Society Superheroes Conquer The Big Swollen Ball