Met Monday 2024 Meditation & Musings

Annually, the elite red carpet event I anticipate and fantasize about the most takes place in the South of France right about now. And for good reason. The Cannes Film Festival unites the leaders and trailblazers of my two loves, film and fashion, for a culture-defining high point that most can only dream of. Without any faux posturing to the little people, it’s all about yachts and mega-millionaires, from continental class and Eurotrash varietals alike. 

This year there have been some long-awaited premieres. Most notable was Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis. The 8-minute long standing ovation by cinema’s most discerning insiders was as expected as the vintage couture gowns on the Oscar-winning favorites. The looming threat of the #MeToo movement, finally gaining traction in the French movie business, landed with a whimper, marking the 77th Cannes Film Festival disappointingly predictable and scandal-free.

It’s the reason I’m so grateful for the lead-up to the 2024 Met Gala. There was scandal and gossip galore – more than most years – to sate my appetite for drama. A few weeks prior to the May 6 pageant of all pageants, several news outlets leaked that Anna Wintour and Met fashion curator Andrew Bolton planned to dedicate the Costume Institute’s spring 2024 exhibition to John Galliano. It was her second attempt in a multi-pronged effort to rehabilitate the disgraced designer after antisemitic remarks in a Parisian cafe – the first being her support of the redemptive fashion doc “High and Low: Galliano” which I reviewed early this year.

Despite a stunning, historic show at Paris Fashion Week for Maison Margiela – the only house willing to employ the English enfant terrible – the Met trustees put the kibosh on the suggestion for fear of controversy and chose Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion instead. One can only imagine the couture-cloaked catfighting at committee meetings. That was just the first whiff of scandal threatening to tarnish the storied pedigree of the Met Gala, which industry critics declare on the wane.

Another behind-the-scenes scandal, brewing since 2023, threatening the celebration of haute couture came to a head on the eve of Met Gala Monday. A late-night news update indicated that negotiations between the Conde Nast Union and management over better wages had yet to be resolved. I went to bed Sunday with a feeling of impending doom. A strike seemed imminent. 

A picket line of Wintour’s minions, assistants, and underlings snaking down 5th Ave instead of undertaking the painstaking, behind-the-scenes minutiae needed to keep the gala on track, would have cemented May 6, 2024 as the most chaotic red carpet nights in high fashion felt impossible, yet fated given the night’s theme. 

Drawing its inspiration from a 1962 J. G. Ballard short story “The Garden of Time,” the theme of the 2024 pageant – the time flower – evoked meditations on the passage of time, the transience of beauty, and impending doom. Brilliant with diamantine light emanating from its crystal heart, Ballard’s time flower is imbued with alchemical power – it can turn back time, the wear and tear on the once stately villa, as well as the proximity of the barbarians trying to storm its gate in pure Eat the Rich fashion until they’ve all wilted.

Unlike the aristocrats in the story, Conde Nast reached a tentative agreement with the hoi polloi, and disaster was averted early Monday morning, leaving the well-heeled to focus wholly on the pursuit of perfection, sublime beauty, and their place in the fame hierarchy without worry.

Given Anna Wintour’s selection of the “The Garden of Time” theme, similar to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, as exalted in the near religious veneration of the cherry blossom – the gorgeous pale pink flowers that bloom en masse annually in the spring and then quickly die 10 days later – the Met Gala was all about fleeting beauty. In other words, fashion, like Mother Nature, giveth and taketh away. The metaphor writes itself: popularity, taut skin, and a minuscule waist won’t last forever. The objective of fashion, like the magical time flower, is to attempt the impossible. 

Though rumors abound that Conde Nast CEO Anna Wintour was disappointed with many looks, a handful of standouts captured the ethos with exquisite tailoring, signature fabrics, and the enhanced bodies that telescoped the duality of perfection and decay, if only for a few hours.

Top Looks


The most swooned-over muse and designer of the night interpreted the fleeting nature of beauty both literally and performatively by harnessing the power of granular mineral particles. South African musical sensation Tyla arrived sprinkled with diamond dust, a body-hugging dress made of sand, carrying an hourglass sand clock as her evening bag. Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, no stranger to the vulnerability of beauty after suffering severe burns to his tanned and toned body from a fireplace accident, has risen from ashes to wrangle with mother nature the best way he’s equipped to – with a wicked imagination and tailoring shears.

Less than an hour after Tyla was carried up the Met Gala steps like Pope Pius XII, Roustieng delivered one of the most wabi-sabi fashion performance art moments ever. With shears poised on a dress that could only be worn once, he destroyed it and created another transient garment – a mini-dress to allow the dancer maximum movement, networking, and flirtation.

Kim K

Rarely upstaged, the second-most talked about gown of the evening was paraded by none other than Kim K. In a Galliano Maison Margiela creation from the latest season, sans porcelain doll patina, the platinum hourglass mother of all influencers wowed in a metallic lace gown and draconian corset. The alliance of pariahs – Kim fresh from savage mockery at a roasting not devoted to her, wearing a garment designed by persona non-grata John Galliano – also felt fated. 

In full homage to the exacting, waist-whittling garments of yore, with difficulty inhaling, talking and walking, Kiki transformed herself from a Calabasas closet-organizing, nepo baby and reality show celebrity to, according to MJ Corey, expert on all things Kardashian, a “Victorian cyborg.” Though no less immobilized than Tyla in her pursuit of beauty, Kim, with a 16-inch waist, breathlessly ascended the stairs on her own, blessing the night with another moment of fashion performance art.


On a red-carpet hot streak, stylist Law Roach made his presence known with a theme-capturing nod to Poison Ivy as a French fin-de-siecle flaneuse, ie. prostitute and another Galliano for Margiela creation. Gone were the endless Tennis Whites-inspired pret-a-porter Zendaya rocked on the ‘Challengers’ press tour. In smeared, dark eye shadow, and a silhouette evocative of twisted, asphyxiating, and lethal flora, the once child star announced her coming of age as a true fashion icon in a gown reminiscent of Galliano’s earlier version from the Dior Spring 1999 Haute Couture collection.

The Notables


A fresh-faced Pamela Anderson was radiant and resplendent in her (almost) no-makeup, life-affirming renaissance, marking a major triumph against Mother Nature’s destructive power by embracing and besting it.


With Zac Posen as her companion for the night, Christina Ricci leaned into her Wednesday Adams pop cultural relevance as a posh goth Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

Mona Patel

In a bid to steal the mantle of the most radiant woman ever from J Lo, Mona Patel exuded flesh-toned luminescence from every pore and every angle of her Iris Van Herpen couture gown and marked another win for Law Roach.

Cardi B

As the closing look, Cardi B embraced the dark power of Mother Nature, channeling Lilith as a Santeria Priestess and reminded us she’s better at posing than discussing geography.

The Meh’s

J Lo

J Lo radiant, as usual, despite social implosion, rumors of yet another inevitable failed marriage, and a diminished skincare brand, rocked a look conspicuously not in homage to ‘The Block,’ except for her Andrea Wazens bejeweled, open-toed, pointy platforms. In a massive misreading of Ballard’s short story, she praised the diversity of the Met Gala committee for being inclusive of an oft-marginalized voice in NYC cultural circles:  Private Equity

La La

La La Anthony in the uber coveted role as the Vogue red carpet correspondent donned a vampy Alexander McQueen lace gown but blunted the sexy goth look with a Blair Waldorf grosgrain ribbon.


Huma Abdein, with Weinergate behind her and engaged to the billionaire Soros scion, reminded us she’s a politico in a modest, butterfly -bedazzled gown, in the same shade of kelly green that was roundly mocked and shaded after Katie Britt’s State of the Union rebuttal. 


Minda Kaling, dispelling rumors of Ozempic use, wore a dress constructed of a multitude of modern flower petals that neither she nor her designers could pull off.


Though God Incarnate herself Anna Wintour honored the theme with a staid floral-embroidered overcoat over a pristine white gown, rumors abounded that she wasn’t at all pleased with the overall creative vibe of the night. Apparently, the editor of all fashion editors felt that many looks were too literal in referencing the time flower, if at all. Lesser designers and their muses executed the concept as simple floral patterns, unlike the true masters of fashion Alexander McQueen and John Galliano who understand Mother’s Nature’s power is as beautiful as it is chthonic – making good on the promise of beauty on the condition of death.

An admission of failure in her curation, a sign of modesty from the Queen herself? In a roundabout way, Anna, as alway, gets her way and knows that Galliano, the saint of the night, by reminding us of his decades-long creative dominion, like the Time Flower, IS FASHUUN. Until next year… May the best dress win.

Gesha-Marie Bland


Not bland at all. Gesha-Marie Bland is an essayist, Vanity Fair-published film and television writer, and unrepentant beauty junkie who jumpstarted her career at NYU’s Master’s Program in Cinema Studies. In homage to her beauty icons Jeanne Moreau, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones, she is forever in search of the perfect cat-eye liner, a killer pair of heels, and unforgettable statement accessories. Currently NYC-based, this dual American-French citizen still wears all-black and has a soft spot for clean beauty, pharmaceutical-grade actives, and most ingredients sourced from vineyards in the south of France. She loves New Wave cinema, Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, Spain, and matcha double-shots. After selling "The Ripper," her Alexander McQueen-Issie Blow biopic to the Cannes-winning production company Maven Pictures, she remains convinced fashion and couture are the next frontiers for edgy cinematic stories.