Looking Back At Our Favourite Memorable Met Gala Jewellery Looks
Affectionately named “fashion’s biggest night out”, the Met Gala tantalises fashion aficionados around the world. Since its inception in 1948, the Met Gala has since evolved into an elite esoteric event that continues to bring excitement and vivacity to the world of fashion. An annual fundraiser organised by Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of American Vogue, the night raises money and awareness for the Met’s costume institute. Each year, a specially selected crowd of A-listers grace the front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s steps, wearing their chosen designers' take on each year’s theme.
Each year, the paparazzi photos from the red carpet light up our phones. Everyone has an opinion, social media is squabbling over who looks the best and who looks the worst. We all admire the artistry and majestic talents of the designers, whilst berating the celebrities that sordidly missed the mark or who failed to adhere to the theme at all!
Unfortunately, the Met Gala has been postponed for this year. We were so upset, but also understanding of course, when we heard the news.
The theme for this year was “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. We loved this theme, particularly because it resonates strongly with antique jewellery. Yet, we know that when this event does happen in the future, that we will be ready to write a fabulous blog choosing our very best looks.
To commemorate this fantastic event, we thought we should honour and celebrate the out-of-this-world jewellery looks that we loved from the past years, 2019 and 2018.
Camp: Notes on Fashion 2019
Inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1946 essay, “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, the exhibition explored the limitless and discursive ways that the word ‘camp’ can be interpreted through clothing. In Sontag’s essay, 58 points detailed how the concept of ‘camp’ can be constructed: “Indeed the essence of camp is love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”.
And it is these last two words “artifice” and “exaggeration” that many celebrities paid tribute to. The red carpet was awash with bolder larger than life looks, and certainly the jewellery matched this.The exhibition explored the intermingling worlds and continuous conversations surrounding high art and pop culture.
One of the co-hosts of the evening, Lady Gaga is famous for her constant interpretation of camp throughout her red carpet debuts. So, at this Met Gala, she certainly did not disappoint.
At the start, Lady Gaga was enveloped in a huge hot pink Brandon Maxwell gown, then she swiftly changed into 4 different outfits, entering the building in black diamante fishnets and underwear!
Although her outfit was momentous, and perfectly capturing the essence of camp, her jewellery also embraced the theme too. Her fingers were adorned with glittering Tiffany and Co Diamond, pink Sapphire, purple Sapphire and pink Spinel rings.
Lady Gala Met Gala 2019, Source - VO
Then, around her neck she wore a yellow Gold butterfly necklace, which Tiffany themselves wrote: “luxury does not necessarily mean formality, this necklace captures the graceful movement of delicate wings in a modern and irreverent way.”
Lily Collins was giving us major reincarnated Marie Antoinette vibes at this red carpet. From the plush pink satin exaggerated headband to the flowers in her bouffant coiffure (we don’t want to think about how much hairspray is in that!) and her pale pink blouson Giambattista Valli gown - she was a modern day princess.
Lily Collins Met Gala 2019, Source - Forbes
But it was the incredible Cartier Diamond and Emerald necklace which really caught our attention. Suspending gracefully down the decolletage, this necklace was crafted from Platinum, Emeralds, Onyx, Rock Crystal, Black Lacquer and Diamonds. And, according to Collins, the necklace itself came with its own security guard!
One of the world’s biggest pop culture icons, Jennifer Lopez absolutely slayed the Met Gala 2019 red carpet. Dripping in crystals from head to toe, Lopez was an iridescent dream! Her stunning Versace silvery lilac gown was complemented by a matching headdress, and of course, THAT necklace.
Jennifer Lopez Met Gala 2019, Source - Town and Country Magazine
The necklace we are referring to is, of course, the Harry Winston Diamond necklace with a gargantuan 65.32ct purple Sapphire.
Another co-host of the 2019 Met Gala, Harry Styles’s polished high-fashion look was a far cry from his floppy-haired One Direction days. Now making his own mark in the music world, Styles shows that he really does have plenty of style, living up to his last name.
Harry Styles Met Gala 2019, Source - Getty Images // Vogue
Men’s jewellery at the Met Gala can get overlooked, yet Styles contribution was just effortless. In comparison to some of the other jewellery looks, his efforts may seem minimal, but the singular drop baroque Pearl earring accompanied by the sheer black blouse was just right.
Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong'o made heads turn at the Met Gala. Wearing Versace, her dress had pouffed rainbow ruffled shoulders and bejewelled openwork star fabric. What’s more, her hair arftully was homage to black art with hairstylist Vernon Francois writing “our goal was to demonstrate the power, malleability, and luxuriousness of natural hair texture.” inspired by Lauren Kelley’s 2007 Self Portrait “Pickin”.
Lupita Nyong'o Met Gala 2019, Source - The Jewellery Editor
Nyong'o’s impressive look was accessorised with candy-coloured vintage Bulgari gems - how delicious!
Billy Porter is known for being the King and Queen of Camp combined. At this Met Gala, Porter was carried onto the red carpet on a litter in a theatrical nod to Ancient Egypt.
Billy Porter Met Gala 2019, Source - Dazed
Porter’s striking bejewelled catsuit was accompanied by a 24 carat Gold headpiece. For Porter, this look was important as it reframes camp. “Camp is often used as pejorative… [The Met Gala] brings honour to a word and genre that is discounted very often, or thought of as cheesy. When it’s done properly it’s one of the highest forms of fashion and art”.
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination 2018
The Met Gala’s most visited and lucrative exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination was an incredible affair. Exploring the relationship between the enduring and often convoluted worlds of Fashion and Catholicism, the collection exhibits some of the Vatican’s private collection and designer interpretations of religious dress and motifs throughout the years.
The exhibition itself was gothic, glamorous and breathtaking, so the Met Gala attendees had plenty to live up to. But don’t worry, they did not disappoint!
The co-host of this years Met Gala, Rihanna is known for her drop-dead gorgeous looks that she effortlessly reveals year after year. The theme lent itself to exaggerated and hyperbolic interpretations, but Rihanna’s took it even further.
Rihanna Met Gala 2018, Source - The Jewellery Editor
Designed by John Galliano for Maison Margiela, it is no secret who the inspiration was behind the gown. A baroque bejewelled three piece dress, complete with the signature encrusted papal hat, Rihanna looked as if she was about to step into the Vatican itself.
To accompany this ecclesiastical ensemble, Rihanna wore a jaw-dropping vintage Cartier necklace created in 1934. The necklace itself is rich in Catholic symbolism, with a crucified Jesus and pearl encrusted Dove.
Another celebrity that continues to wholly interpret the Met Gala theme is Blake Lively. For this Met Gala, it is believed that the entire look itself took more than 600 hours to make! A deep juicy red velvet gown with gemstone crystal bodice and ornate gold thread brocade detailing, this dress looked fit for a Renaissance Queen!
Blake Lively Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
Lively paired the dress by coiling her golden locks into an messy mid bun with a gold halo headpiece crowning it. Lively kept her decolletage bare, but she wore gorgeous Gold triangular drop Emerald earrings and stacked her wrists with oversized Gold curb chain bracelets. It is believed that the jewellery itself cost £2 million.
Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke stunned on this Met Gala red carpet, and her jewellery look is giving us major Austro-Hungarian sorceress vibes! Wearing head to toe Dolce and Gabbana, Clarke wore a black lace and gold brocade dress.
Emilia Clarke Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
Her platinum blonde tresses were secured with sweet purple flowers, and a gorgeous Gold and red crystal floral wreath crown. Her Dolce and Gabbana earrings too were gorgeous. Beautiful chandelier earrings, these had baroque Pearl droplets, juicy red rhinestones and Enamelled classical figurines.
Kim Kardashian West
One of the most well-known influencers around the world, Kim Kardashian West (and the rest of the respective Kardashian Jenner clan) have become must-have invitees to the Met Gala in recent years. Unlike our other choices, Mrs Kardashian West chose to accessorise her atelier Versace gown with dainty subtle layered cross necklaces.
Kim Kardashian West Met Gala 2018, Source - Vogue Australia
The petite Diamond crucifixes are suspended upon fine Gold chains, a subtle but glamorous homage to the theme.
A modern and angelic look, Sienna Miller chose to reference the theme in both an understated and glamorous way wearing a gold sequin skirt and white long sleeve top. Yet, it was her jewellery that directly stood out as a reference to the theme.
Sienna Miller Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
Celestial motifs are commonplace in heavenly religious jewellery, and Miller chose to embrace this wholeheartedly with a beautiful celestial rose cut Diamond crown. Around her neck was a chunky Silver and Gold necklace adding a powerful warrior queen touch to this look.
We loved Lynda Carter’s look at the Met Gala, intepreting the theme in a traditional way. Early Christianity and Judaism had many cross overs, and Carter chose to showcase this by wearing a Gold crown with Hebrew phrase “l’olam al tishkachi” (never forget) and a bejewelled Star of David hair piece securing her chignon.
Lynda Carter Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
The Gold jewellery was the perfect complement to her deep teal Zac Posen gown. Carter also wore gorgeous Gold gemstone chandelier earrings and two layered Gold disc pendant necklaces.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker is renowned for her idiosyncratic style, especially as Carrie Bradshaw in SATC. A nod to her fashionable alter ego, Parker wore a literal nativity scene as a headpiece to this Met Gala!
Sarah Jessica Parker Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
Like Emilia Clarke, Parker was dressed by Dolce and Gabbana in a Gold brocade and red flaming heart dress. To accompany the nativity scene (we did mention she was wearing a nativity scene right??) a pretty white flower posy was tucked into her hair, a symbol of purity. Two singular drop Diamond earrings were the piece de resistance, completing this avant-garde look.
Wearing a structured Gabriel Hearst white gown, Uma Thurman was angelic on the Met Gala red carpet. But, what caught our attention were the Giampiero Bodino jewels. Vibrant and vivacious multi-gemstone crosses are suspended upon a Diamond white Gold curb chain, complete with matching earrings.
Uma Thurman Met Gala 2018, Source - Pinterest
So, How Do We Interpret the 2020 Met Gala Theme?
As the Met Gala is sadly postponed this year, we thought we would have a little fun of our own and interpret the 2020 theme “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. You can view a preview of the exhibition here.
The theme was inspired by Virginia Woolf's “Orlando”, and will explore fashion histories fragmented discontinuous and heterogeneous past. The exhibition will question what’s timeless, what’s new and what can we recreate today, exploring fashion in an ephemeral way.
Virginia Woolf’s books will narrate the exhibition. A writer known for her stream of consciousness technique, her written word has no set beginning, middle and end, unlike the chronologies of which we frame history, and of course, fashion history. The exhibition will be set out in a timeline of 120 fashions fabricated in an enormous clock and organised in 60 pairs, each representing a minute in fashion. Each pair was chosen for its shape, motif, material, pattern, technique or decoration. And, all of the primary garments will be black, and the secondary garments will be either black or white so you can easily focus on the finer details.
According to Andrew Bolton, the curator, fashion not only “reflects and represents the spirit of the times, but it also changes and develops with the times, serving as an especially sensitive and accurate time piece.”
Antique jewellery, much like antique fashion, is wholeheartedly connected to this theme. Shapes and motifs from jewellery are often repeated in modern creations. For example, Etruscan and Hellenistic details continue to entrance modern jewellery makers, and the revival of the baroque pearl with minimalist Gold fluid shapes is a far cry from its rococo creations. Even pretty rose cut Diamonds that once fascinated the Victorians, still are elegant choices for engagement rings and earrings today.
Just because something was made in the past doesn’t mean it’s not futuristic.
Buying a piece of antique jewellery, and subsequently wearing it in the living room on the night of the Met Gala is a great way to honour the theme. You could even reference past themes too. Our Austro-Hungarian juicy Garnet necklace is perfect for Heavenly bodies and the Catholic Imagination, and our bright Paste necklaces are perfect for an ode to Camp: Notes on Fashion!
The exhibition will open on October the 29th 2020 and will run until February 7th 2021.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog this week! Let us know what your favourite Met Gala look is in our comments below (could be from this list or not!) We always love to hear from you.
Love, Lillicoco xo