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Hunter Abrams for Vogue

For so many events, the red carpet is the hearty appetizer. It whets your appetite but serves largely as a kicking off point for some awards show where newsworthy things happen. For the Met Gala, however, the red carpet is the main dish for all intents and purposes. Yes, there’s a dinner and program once the celebrities get inside, but no one is writing about that. Everyone wants to talk about what’s “on theme,” and if you ask me, what would have made Andre Leon Talley (God rest his soul) sigh an appreciative “That’s how you do it.”

This year, the exhibit is “Sleeping Beauties: Awakening Fashion,” while the red carpet theme is “The Garden of Time.” The theme is based on a short story in which a man must cut a crystalized flower a day to keep away impending doom, but in practice means a hell of a lot of florals — as well as a handful of archival looks (aka “Sleeping Beauties”). 

We would be remiss to not call out the way co-chair Zendaya and her image architect Law Roach did what needed to be done with two looks on the carpet: One was a Maison Margiela remake of a Christian Dior couture look from 1999 and the other was an actual Givenchy couture look from 1996. But for the purposes of our list tonight, let’s talk about the LGBTQs!! Only!


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1. Colman Domingo 

Going to kick this off with one of my personal favorites. With his first press tour as a proper leading man, Colman’s fashion has been applying pressure at each and every opportunity. And while I didn’t expect him to let up now, I also didn’t expect him to call in the hot New York City-based menswear designer Willy Chavarria. 

The look kept with Chavarria staples: voluminous trousers taking on a slight feminine sexuality with its satin flutters, as well as the exaggeratedly peak lapel. The cape, according to Domingo, was a nod to both Andre Leon Talley and Chadwick Boseman who were both fond of the accessory. The ability to pull it all off and look on theme without veering into costume territory requires true skill. (Thanks, bouquet of lilies.) 


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2. Jordan Roth

On that note, I honestly don’t know if I think Jordan Roth looks costumey or not. And honestly I don’t care. The Broadway producer has developed a reputation of going all in on fashion all the time. It is going to be drama, it’s going to be divisive, and if there’s one place you can and should make those choices, it’s at the Met Gala.

The theme called for a garden and Roth gave that exactly in a custom couture look from Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli. If we are being frank, it gives RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16 Flower Power runway. But why not? If anything, it should secure the fashion stalwart a guest seat on an upcoming season. 

3. Dan Levy

Mr. Levy opted for what I am going to graciously assume is an intellectual take. Year after year there are online groans about men wearing “just another black suit” to the Met Gala. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the theme?! These are the questions people have. Levy’s Loewe suit — which starts from the top as a run-of-the-mill suit before ombréing into a floral print — feels like a wink to that critique. The ombré is not a print but an extremely intricate work of caviar beading we saw at fashion week earlier this year.

It certainly isn’t as gaggy or gasp-inducing like, say, his decision to wear literal art by David Wojnarovicz a few years ago. But hey, it’s not just a black suit either. 

4. Queen Latifah & Eboni Nichols

Both by Thom Browne, Latifah had a sequined dress with Birds of Paradise embellishments, while Eboni wore a plaid off-the-shoulder coat dress with patent leather platform stilt shoes (Cynthia Erivo also wore a pair). They’re the epitome of chic. While I love Queen Latifah until the end of time, she was slightly upstaged by her partner Eboni Nichols and that’s not a bad thing. 


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5. Hari Nef 

Hari Nef was also dazzled in a custom white dress with iridescent paillettes from H&M, featuring an oversized bow on the back with a massive train. There was something that felt so Barbie about the look. Maybe it was the little crystals that twinkled from the perch in her hair. Maybe it was just Hari being Hari. But whatever it was, it all just worked.