The Met gala might celebrate the Anna Wintour Costume Center, but this isn’t your average costume party. Guests are encouraged to take their cues from the evening’s theme, while still wearing some version of an evening gown (or suit). This year’s exhibition is China: Through the Looking Glass, which meant a parade of red dresses on the red carpet, lots of white, florals, and the occasional traditional cheongsam. A few went above and beyond. There was SJP’s over-the-top Philip Treacy headpiece, and the Guo Pei robe fit for an emperor and worn by Rihanna. Anne Hathaway’s golden look might not have screamed China, but the actress didn’t just look up “Chinese Dress” on the Internet and call it a day. She and the team at Ralph Lauren, who dressed her for the evening, truly immersed themselves into not only the theme of the evening, but the entire philosophy behind the museum’s spring exhibition.
Earlier this year, Yahoo Style interviewed Andrew Bolton, the curator behind this exhibit, who explained that he was “really interested in the impact of China in the West, and more so the cross-cultural dialogue between them.”
Hathaway must have heard Bolton loud and clear; the actress told our editor-in-chief Joe Zee, “I thought there was a lot you could do [with the theme] so I decided to find a contemporary Chinese artist that I loved and try to interpret [it].” In the end, it was a statue by Huang Yulong that inspired her caped gown.
Yulong, it turns out, is one of China’s most talented contemporary artists. Based in Beijing, he creates sculptures that blur the lines between Chinese and Western culture, specifically hip hop culture, through the use of traditional Chinese ceramic porcelain. His sculptures feature such disparate visuals like a Buddha wearing a hoodie, or a royal crest made from brass knuckles and chains that also resemble a happy face. His work explores the very connection that Bolton, and the rest of the team at the Costume Center aimed to expose in the show.
A hooded golden statue by Huang Yulong, the Chinese artist who inspired Anne Hathaway’s Ralph Lauren gown.
Hoods are a recurring motif in Yulong’s work, and so the silhouette became the crux of the look Hathaway set out to create with Lauren. And the liquid gold color perfectly matched the shiny metallic that is both a symbol of good luck in China, and a symbol of prosperity in America. It was a beautiful tribute and certainly one of the most original gowns of the night. Beauty and brains on that Anne Hathaway—she really is the total package!
Don’t miss the rest of Joe Zee’s red carpet interviews. Watch them all here!
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