ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: The ostentatious Met Ball? Well, that’s the point of it!
The annual Met Ball extravaganza, themed this year by Gilded Glamour, drew criticism from those who thought it was grossly inappropriate to stage a cavalierly ostentatious celebration of wealth as Ukraine is battered by the Putin’s army, the cost of living rockets and we face a global fuel crisis. Others, however, pored over the footage from the ball and found the shenanigans a welcome — and harmless — diversion in these dark times.
The theme referenced the golden age at the end of the 19th century when America’s ancient social order – families who could trace their lineage to the Pilgrims on the Mayflower’s voyage from England to the New World in 1620 – had a crank nose. by the new rich, who came to town and practically bought New York City.
The newcomers had quickly made their fortunes from expanding railroads and other industrial advances. And, as anyone who’s watched upstart hostess Bertha Russell’s social rise in Julian Fellowes’ recent The Gilded Age TV series knows, too much is never enough.
The annual Met Ball extravaganza, themed this year by Gilded Glamour, drew criticism from those who thought it was grossly inappropriate to stage a cavalierly ostentatious celebration of wealth as Ukraine is battered by the Putin’s army.
Bigger has always been better across the pond. So it was a particularly fitting theme for this year’s prom as it kicks off a blockbuster exhibition on American fashion.
While we Brits, in our own hidden way, still have a sneaky fear of people thinking we’re show-offs, the US remains a country where the whole point is to show off. No one succeeds in the United States without showing all they have. No one is minimizing the size, let alone the number, of their homes, or what they earn, or their private jets. And as the shenanigans surrounding Nicole Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham’s multimillion-dollar wedding have shown, the more-is-more attitude is alive and well.
The Met Gala is a fundraiser for the Costume Institute of New York. This plays on the fact that spending a huge amount on a table is desirable because it shows you can afford it. It is a constituent element of philanthropy. Dressing is the decorative side of the business.
Whether or not guests show up in crazy clothes has no bearing on the issues of the whole world. And really, the Met Ball case is just another costume drama. No more harmful or useful than the new movie Downton or Bridgerton – and much more fun to sit on the sidelines and shoot at.
Cara Delevingne attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit Gala
My big dilemma: do the ankles go on the legs?
Moving from one end of the fashion spectrum to the other, can we talk about clothespins? It may seem trivial, but I’m not the only one who wants to put laundry on the clothesline instead of in the dryer.
Clotheslines aren’t the most glamorous subject, but I love mine. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a row of white sheets blowing in the wind. The ankles though? This is where I get stuck. It just seems right to avoid plastic. But how do you prevent the wood from molding and staining the white?
Indeed, the whole operation is a bundle of uncertainties. What is the most effective way to hang pants – at the waist or at the legs? Should hangers be used for shirts? And the socks? One peg or two? These things matter.
Are we too wide awake to love the Victoria sponge?
What a pleasure to be a judge for the Queen’s Platinum Pudding contest! I would have strong opinions. Above all, puddings should be deliciously indulgent and high in calories. The clue is in the word, which feels heavy and grounded, unlike the dessert, which has a lighter, less substantial feel.
Puddings should be wonderfully unhealthy and indulgent – sponges, trifles, suets and pies do the trick. Mousses, sorbets – certainly not.
What a pleasure to be a judge for the Queen’s Platinum Pudding contest! I would have strong opinions (stock image)
My vote would go to barrister Sam Smith’s splendid Jubilee Bundt cake, an ornate crown-shaped Victoria sponge (a nod to Her Majesty’s great-great-grandmother) filled with Dubonnet jam (a nod look at the queen mother’s drink).
I’m willing to bet it’s far too old school to win in these particularly guilt-ridden times when it’s become taboo to celebrate anything about Britain’s past.
The must-buy already has-been
I held myself back from buying a necklace that I had been looking at for weeks.
Fortunately, help has arrived in the form of seeing it recommended as a must-buy this season. There’s no better way to get rid of an item than to see it presented as an item du jour – branding it as a budding has-been that will soon be worn by far too many others.
Green really isn’t the color of fashion
The fashion industry clearly hasn’t gotten the carbon footprint message. Last week Chanel presented its Cruise collection in Monte Carlo, the week before Pucci commandeered Capri in the Bay of Naples and next month Dior will take the fashion world to Seville.
Years ago, I was often asked if the tradition of staging huge and expensive fashion shows was likely to continue, and I always said it was unlikely. It was expensive, unhealthy for the environment and illogical.
Clearly I was wrong. Even a global pandemic hasn’t changed the fashion for her polka dots.
So there you have it… didn’t Sir Keir Starmer’s wife, Victoria, pictured above, look great when she went to vote last week? Button-up skinny jeans, a fiery red blouse, oversized sunglasses – casual but not without style
A Starmer who looks like a winner
It’s now considered deeply offensive to comment on a woman’s appearance, but I think most of us don’t mind terribly if it’s a compliment.
So there you have it… didn’t Sir Keir Starmer’s wife, Victoria, pictured above, look great when she went to vote last week? Button-up skinny jeans, a fiery red blouse, oversized sunglasses – casual but not without style.
Well done, I say. Boris settled for a dashing pink leash on Dilyn the dog.
There’s nothing like a dreamy nightgown
I was sent a beautiful white cotton nightgown last week thanks to a collaboration between my former Vogue colleague Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey and If Only If nightwear.
It reminded me of how underrated babydolls are. We all fell in love in pajamas. Nightgowns have fallen out of favor and are worth reclaiming. They are much more comfortable and just perfect for holiday breakfasts.