Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time

Alia Bhatt, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tyla, Penelope Cruz, celebs interpret what 'Sleeping Beauties' mean for the fashion's biggest night

Rucha Sharma
Published: May 7, 2024 03:24:50 PM IST
Updated: May 7, 2024 04:05:28 PM IST

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Alia Bhatt, Natasha Poonawalla, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, and Mona Patel at Met Gala 2024. Images: Getty Images and AFP

Dust has settled on the green carpet rolled out for the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This year's gala and exhibit theme is Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion. It is an effort to revive garments that are too fragile to be worn again. The dress code for the gala was The Garden of Time, based on JG Ballard's short story. Fashion enthusiasts around the globe were waiting to see the varied interpretations of the theme, and designers chose three distinct paths:

  1. The literal meaning of the garden
  2. The literal meaning of the exhibition theme
  3. Party mode

Vogue's Anna Wintour co-chaired the event alongside singer Bad Bunny, singer and actor Jennifer Lopez, actor Chris Hemsworth, and actor and fashion's latest darling Zendaya. Indian audience saw familiar faces in Alia Bhatt and Natasha Poonawalla. Sabyasachi Mukherjee became the first Indian designer to walk the red carpet solo.

Below is a look at some of the striking outfits from the evening that stayed somewhat connected to the ideas of Sleeping Beauty and The Garden of Time.

Desi names

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of timeAlia Bhatt in Sabyasachi and Natasha Poonawalla in Maison Margiela. Image: Getty Images
Sabyasachi designed a couture sari for Alia Bhatt. It has an exaggerated train, hand-embroidered with silk floss, beads, sequins, semi-precious stones, and glass beads. The hand-crafted blouse is studded with emeralds, Basra pearls, tourmalines, and multi-coloured sapphires.

Natasha Poonawalla tried to throw off the Instagram stalkers by posting images of her wearing Viktor and Rolf's 2018 collection, a literal interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, featuring a dress made of duvet and pillows. But when the fashion icon appeared on the green carpet, she was wrapped in John Galliano's creations for Maison Margiela, Christian Louboutin shoes and her wedding jewels. "Our interpretation of this year's dress code was a journey which evolved and was shaped as we got to know each other. We loved the idea of the fragility of time and life co-existing with strength and permanence and incorporating my own sleeping beauties, my set of wedding jewels," she wrote on Instagram.

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Mona Patel in Iris Van Harpen, Mindy Kaling in Gaurav Gupta, and Sabyasachi Mukherjee in one of his creations. Images: Getty Images and AFP
Image architect and celebrity stylist Law Roach has become selective about his client roster. At the gala this year, he was responsible for dressing the co-chair and his newest client, the founder of radXai and CareFirst Imaging, Mona Patel. The Forbes Next 1000 honouree debuted in a custom Iris Van Harpen couture gown at the gala. The sculpted outfit has kinetic butterflies for the sleeves that are battery operated and flutter in slow motion, giving an enchanting aura to the ensemble.

Also read: Met Gala 2023: Of cats and couture

Gaurav Gupta's creation not appearing at the Met Gala would have ruined quite a lot of bingo cards. The rise of the Indian designer, from Paris Couture Week to Beyonce's Renaissance Tour and now Met Gala, has been utterly spectacular. Actor-producer Mindy Kaling chose his 'Melting Flower' creation to walk the green carpet at the fashion's biggest night. To let the silver accent of the sculpted gown with big arches shine, Kaling kept her glam understated and only accentuated her eyes with smokey makeup.

Designer extraordinaire Sabyasachi Mukherjee, possibly the first Indian designer to walk the carpet at the Met Gala, chose to wear his own creation. He picked an embroidered cotton duster coat from the Sabyasachi Resort 2024 collection layered with tourmalines, pearls, emeralds, and diamonds from Sabyasachi High Jewellery. If you need to take lessons in the art of stacking, who is better than the master himself?

Reawakening fashion

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Penelope Cruz in Chanel, Kendall Jenner in Givenchy, and Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga. Images: AFP
As good fashion students, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and supermodel Kendall Jenner requested designers to open their archives and reawaken the beauties resting in their vaults. Cruz, a Chanel brand ambassador, wore a Chanel Haute Couture gown inspired by the fashion house's creations in the 1940s and 50s and the 2020 collection. The black off-shoulder dress made of eight different types of French floral laces was put together in 500 hours of work.

Her fellow Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman, requested Balenciaga creative director Demna to recreate a flamenco-inspired couture gown made by founder Cristobal Balenciaga for the 1951 spring collection. The white sating bustier with opera gloves looked ethereal when paired with hand-frayed organza embroidery. According to Vogue, 800 hours of work were put into applying 3000 feathers to 150 meters of silk organza. "The gown creates a natural full circle moment—it's a celebration of Richard's work that will live on, but also, an acknowledgement of Balenciaga's artistic vision that continues to seamlessly blend the illusion of past, present, and future," Kidman told host La La Anthony on the Met carpet.

Then there was Kendall Jenner. The supermodel and reality TV star dug into Givenchy's vaults to find the Haute Couture look from the 1999 collection, presented by Alexander McQueen at the time. The cutout gown features 100,000 beads and sequins. Jenner is the first human to wear this gown (the original was displayed on a mannequin before entering Givenchy archives), and after the event, it goes back into the vault. "It just fit perfectly," Jenner revealed at the gala, mentioning that she couldn't alter this sleek piece.

What did the hosts wear?

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of timeZendaya in two different looks. Images: AFP
World was still not done discussing Zendaya's outfits for the promotional tour of her movie Dune: Part II (otherwordly couture and archival pieces everywhere) when she began serving looks for the promotion tour of her next movie Challengers (starting the 'Tennis Core' trend). As May 6 approached, the fashion world and its appreciators looked forward to the next magical outfit their recent goddess would present. Returning to the Met Gala after five years, she first wore Maison Margiela Artisanal by John Galliano, inspired by a 1999 Dior dress. The moss green and blue creation of tulle and laces became even more seductive with the wine-coloured eye makeup and berry lips.

Zendaya's second look was a mix of two iconic collections. Her outfit was an archival 2007 collection by Philip Tracey for Alexander McQueen, and the headgear was from John Galliano's debut collection for Givenchy in 1996. Zendaya and her stylist, Law Roach, were expected to serve, and they obliged.

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Jennifer Lopez in Schiaparelli, Bad Bunny in Maison Margiela, Anna Wintour in Loewe, and Chris Hemsworth in Tom Ford. Images: AFP
It looked like the responsibility of living up to their posts was shouldered by Zendaya, as the other co-chairs were only looking to have a good time and not leave their mark on fashion. Rapper-singer Bad Bunny also picked up a custom piece from the Maison Margiela Artisanal Collection by John Galliano. The collection is still the talk of the town, especially because of the makeup magic provided by Pat McGrath. But none of that goodwill elevated Benito's look. The headgear and the Flor de Maga, the national flower of Puerto Rico, in the artist's hands, were the only conversational pieces.

Vogue's Anna Wintour chose a cute Loewe creation, while Chris Hemsworth stayed loyal to Tom Ford's sharp suit, but in pastels this time.

Also read: Cannes, Met Gala, Louis Vuitton show: fashion highlights of 2023

In a custom Schiaparelli haute couture sheath dress, Jennifer Lopez failed to dazzle. That outfit has more than 2.5 million silver foil bugles and beads, and it took over 800 hours of hand embroidery to create. It was a slight upgrade on her regular Zuhair Murad outfits for regular red carpets.

Loewe girls

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Greta Lee, Taylor Russell, Ayo Edebiri, and Ariana Grande, all wearing Loewe couture. Images: AFP
Loewe girls (and boys. More on Dan Levy's outfit later in this article) looked demure and delicate but had a solid core. Stiff corset in innovative materials was the running theme the fashion house followed. Greta Lee debuted at the Met Gala after an incredible awards season thanks to her film Past Lives. JW Anderson created the architectural shape with transparent lace and tiny flowers, adding to the softness of the attire.

Accompanying her on the carpet was another Met debutant, Taylor Russell. The Canadian actor wore a high-neck 3D-modelled corset that gave the impression of wood panelling. It was paired with a circle skirt made of a silk crêpe marocain, which featured a thigh-high slit and draped venetier waist. Loewe, one of the event's sponsors, also brought Ayo Edebiri of The Bear fame. The actor wore a halter-neck dress made of hand-painted, hand-embroidered 3D-modelled applique flowers. Something that would fit perfectly at a garden party.

Then arrived Ariana Grande. The only talking point about the singer-songwriter's dress is the Mother-of-Pearl corset that perfectly contrasts the sweeping, pleated white skirt. The only talking point about her glam is the hand-made 3D wings attached to either side of her eyes.

Thom Browne's bombshells

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Reece Feldman, Gigi Hadid, Rebecca Ferguson, and Cynthia Erivo, all wearing Thom Browne creations. Images: AFP
The writer did not expect Thom Browne to serve delicate, old Hollywood glamour on the red carpet. Reece Feldman was the first person to appear wearing the fashion house's creation at Met 2024. His grey suit, skirt, platform shoes (all embroidered with flowers) and leather dog handbag were eye-catching yet very on-brand for Thom Browne.

But then Rebecca Ferguson, Gigi Hadid, and Cynthia Erivo showed up, wearing breathtaking outfits, one after the other. Ferguson's black cape was hiding the stunning powder blue underlining with blackbirds embroidered on it and a black and silver column gown that's not precisely on the theme but made the internet rever their 'Mother' serving looks. Her shoes were the most tricky part of the outfit, but watching her climb the stairs, you could never make out the effort put into the walk.

Supermodel Gigi Hadid looked divine in the white outfit that took more than 13,500 hours to create. The corset dress features 2.8 million beads that make up the silk moire coat and 3D yellow roses. Her old Hollywood glam—red lips, short bob, and danglers made her look like a work of art.

The tux and padded-shoulder appearance of Cynthia Erivo's top and the rock hard abs on display were a in utter contrast with the delicate ensemble nesting 2000 silk moire petals, grasshoppers, and bejewelled ladybugs. This might be Thom Browne's enchanted garden come to life.

Men in the house

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Colman Domingo in Willy Chavaria, Dan Levy in Loewe, Eddie Redmayne in Steve O Smith, and Wisdom Kaye in Robert Wun. Images: AFP
Colman Domingo, Dan Levy (the aforementioned Loewe boy), Eddie Redmayne, and Wisdom Kaye brought some panache, whimsy and glamour to the otherwise straight-men-in-suits theme that the night's guests had going. Domingo's oversized Willy Chavaria outfit was just as cosy as elegant. The white-and-black suit was accompanied by a bouquet of white flowers wrapped in black satin cloth. On the green carpet, Domingo said that his outfit was a homage to the late Chadwick Boseman and Andre Leon Tally, who wore capes to their Met Gala visits.

Dan Levy has been a Loewe loyalist, so it's no wonder he wore one of their creations. The double-breasted jacket is grim on the top, but joy starts to bloom towards the hem, cuffs, and pants because of the trompe l'oeil embroidery of flowers, a concept borrowed from Loewe's women's fall collection.

Actor Eddie Redmayne wore another double moody outfit. He also matched his wife Hannah Bagshawe's outfit. They both were wearing creations made by young British designer Steve O Smith. The writer has no idea how the black swatches paired with tulle blazer associated with the night's theme, but the change it brought to men's fashion tonight was the most refreshing and welcomed one.

Nigerian-American model and fashion influencer Wisdom Kaye was another breath of fresh and smoking hot air on the green carpet. Designer Robert Wun created his bold red trench coat with burnt accents. The inspiration behind the look was a story of decay through time. According to Wun, the look was achieved by using various techniques of burning, hand printing, and painting to 'encapsulate the natural flaws and the darkening of the red colour in rose petals as it ages and withers'.

Must see

Met Gala 2024: Of sleeping beauties in the garden of time(L-R) Tyla in Balmain, Demi Moore in Harris Reed, Olivier Rousteing in his own collection, and Kim Kardashian in Maison Margiela. Images: AFP
The fun part about Tyla's outfit was that she was being carried up by helpers one step at a time. Her outfit, made from sand by French fashion house Balmain, is a piece of art. The outfit was hugging every inch of the singer's body. And because it was made with three colours of sand and micro crystal studs, it shimmered with her every move. But like a true disciple of fashion, she let go of comfort and the ability to move. At 3 am IST, her struggle to reach the other end of the green carpet brought a chuckle to this grumpy writer's face.

Olivier Rousteing is wearing Olivier Rousteing's face. Enough said.

Demi Moore's outfit by Harris Reed was on point, but her Cartier jewels are worth a look. The actor became the first person to wear Cartier's High Jewelry collection, Nature Sauvage, which will formally launch at the end of May.

Kim Kardashian is another John Galliano girl on the red carpet. But the most shocking part of that otherwise alright outfit was the silver corset. Is it humanly possible to have such a tiny waist?