Photos courtesy of Patrick McMullan
Last night’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit will probably be–in the long run–lost to the annals of time, indistinguishable from last years, or the years before, or any year since Anna Wintour took over, actually. But for us who were there on the sidelines, waving frantically at a very pregnant Kim Kardashian and an actively dismissive Kanye West, screaming for just a moment of Lena Dunham or Kate Beckinsale time while pressed up against the barriers of the press pen like poor animals on the way to the slaughterhouse, listening to the woman next to us ask every female celebrity the same questions–”Did you eat anything today? What did you eat? How long did it take you to get into the dress?”–the irony of the night’s theme was not lost on us.
“Punk: From Chaos to Couture” was already going to be a difficult concept for designers, celebrities, and various rich people to wrap their head around. For one thing, it implies that punk–as a movement, as a musical genre–ever evolved out chaos into some sort of couture maturity. Even The New York Times got it twisted: David Byrne and Debbie Harry, while being two great artists, were never ‘punk.’ Debbie Harry was more punk than most, you could say she lived like a punk, or dressed like a punk, but her voice was always too clear, too lilting, never “Fuck you”-enough to be considered part of the movement.
This sort of mass confusion was amusedly referenced to more than once in the evening. Bee Shaffer, daughter of Anna Wintour, showed up in a giant Dior couture ballgown, shrugging off questions of fitting the night’s theme by saying that she was always more of a girly girl. Jerry Seinfeld asked Jimmy Fallon, in what we generously assumed was a joke (as these men were both wearing designer tuxedos): “When did punk start? The 70s? The 80s? I feel like it was the 70s…” Anna Wintour herself was wearing a pink flowered dress, because she had been told that “pink was punk.”
Even the younger generation, who you’d think would have had at least a Good Charlotte notion of what Punk looked like, had apparently seen Pink in one too many ballgowns. The weird Olsens were dressed like….something (Ashley was an orange cloud, her sister looked like a semi-goth librarian), but whatever that something was, it wasn’t book.
Then again, it seemed even more offensive when they got it right. Cameron Diaz wore a blue number by Stella McCartney, whose ode to punkness was a confined to a golden belt of long spikes. Donatella Versace wore a dress made of spikes. One woman, wearing spiked Louboutins, decided that to be truly punk, she would spit on the red carpet, which was totally punk…until she delicately traipsed over it to get to her seat. The three or four who got it right (Lily Westwood, whose dress was made from recycled garbage; Greta Gerwig; Madonna;Mily Cyrus; the old women who died their hair pink) seemed ironically out of place at such a black tie ball where everyone else just wore whatever Tom Ford–who wore his usual black tux, by the way, while discussing how “punk” was a state of being–had made for them.
We’re just saying: Maybe next year the theme should be something that the 1% can handle without seeming clueless or offensive. “Comic Con” perhaps?