The Men Turned It Out at the 2018 Met Gala

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The Met Gala has a knack for choosing cringe-inducing themes. Take the 2013 “Punk: Chaos to Couture” event, which seemed completely unaware of any cognitive dissonance between the DIY, downtown aesthetic and the sheer cost of the custom couture walking the (uptown) steps of the Met. Or 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass,” which practically begged its (mostly white) attendees to recklessly exoticize a different culture.

The last couple years’ themes have been easier to stomach (technology, Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo), but when Costume Institute’s powers that be announced the 2018 theme-“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”-the fashion industry collectively issued a weary sigh. The Met Gala is back on its bullshit.

Generally, when this sort of thing happens, the guys have an easy time. They simply opt out of the theme entirely and wear a tux. And last night, some men did exactly that. Like George Clooney, who seems thrilled about his sartorial situation:
Photo credit: Getty Images
As with Amal and George, the women generally stole the show this year. Rihanna, Zendaya, Zoe Kravitz-they crushed it, as expected. What was less expected: Rather than skirting the issue, some guys went inon the theme. I’m talking about draping yourself in opulently embroidered silks and velvets. I’m talking about pinning a couple of gleaming, diamond-studded broaches to your six-inch-wide lapels. I’m talking about wearing a freaking golden crown around your long, tousled locks.
I’m talking, naturally, about Jared Leto, who’s already got a leg up seeing as he’s been rocking the “Stereotypical White Jesus” look for a while now:
Photo credit: Getty Images
But of course Leto’s gonna Leto. The guy showing up in a fuck-you crazy Gucci rig is expected at this point. So there had to be more. There had to be a man who looked at the Pope and said, “You know what? That’s fine. But what if there were more embroidery? And what if we actually tailored it to fit, and skipped the hat because, honestly, have you seen this hair?” There had to be Chadwick Boseman:
Photo credit: Getty Images
There also had to be at least one guy who looked at the theme, looked at literally any Versace collection, then had an epiphany: “Hold on! That’s what Donatella’s been doing this whole time!” Turns out, there were three. All due credit to Migos for identifying the one fashion swerve that would allow them to look totally true to themselves (bougie x 10,000) and completely right for the evening’s festivities.
Photo credit: Getty Images
On the flip side of Migos’ “maybe you could actually wear this again” vibe was Jordan Roth, who looked like what might happen if a cardinal ran five broadway theaters and wanted to dress accordingly fashion-y. Which makes sense, seeing as Roth actually does that for a living. And he busted out the Givenchy haute couture. (Though he is not, to my knowledge, a cardinal).
Photo credit: Getty Images
If anyone had gone this literal with the punk theme, there would be eye-rolling. If anyone had done it in 2015 for “China: Through the Looking Glass,” there would (hopefully) be public outcry and a round or two of apologies for being an appropriative idiot. But, despite some hand-wringing before everything went down last night, it seems that this year’s theme isn’t sparking all that much controversy.
Esquire reached out to the Archdiocese of New York to talk about potential issues in the run-up to the Met Gala, but got no reply. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was in attendance at the event itself. He seemed pretty happy about it:
Photo credit: Getty Images
So why did guys feel free to lean into the theme last night? Why did a prominent Catholic figure actually attend and, seemingly, enjoy himself? Maybe it’s because, unlike “punk” or “China,” the traditional opulence of the Catholic aesthetic lends itself to an event like the Met Gala. (Gold! Red! Jewels! Embroidery!) Maybe it’s because rich and famous Americans have an easier time playing with religious imagery in a relatively respectful way than they do incorporating sartorial cues from another culture or class. Or maybe the Catholic church has other things to worry about.
Whatever the reason, the guys went for it last night. And, for better or for worse, the pictures will last forever.
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