How Loewe and John Galliano Got The Met Gala Right

by Joshua Graham, Hetty Mahlich on 7 May 2024

Designers who looked beyond surface level interpretations of The Garden of Time theme came up trumps.

Designers who looked beyond surface level interpretations of The Garden of Time theme came up trumps.

The Met Gala is the industry’s most public-facing event. Deemed the Oscars of fashion, brands and celebrity guests dress up to a theme set by Anna Wintour in line with The Costume Institute’s annual blockbuster exhibition, as everyone becomes a fashion critic for the night.

Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, curated by Andrew Bolton with creative consultation from Nick Knight, investigates the changing status of fashion objects when placed into a museum setting. Put to sleep, as it were, for conservation reasons, these garments lie dormant, ready to be reawakened. The exhibition uses technology to activate and spotlight the sensorial capacities of clothes, from a Charles Frederick Worth gown, an Elizabethan bodice and Madame Vionnet dress through to Loewe’s viral live grass coat and Undercover’s glowing S/S 24 flowers dress, the show includes CGI, 3D, X-Ray and animation, realised by Nick Knight, SHOWstudio and A New Plane.

This year’s Met Gala theme, ‘The Garden of Time’, named after J. G Ballard’s short story, proposed several potential dress up routes, primarily to nature, fashion and their shared impermanent status, but also to the fashion archive and Ballard’s dystopian references to class and fall of the glamorous bourgeoisie.

Kim Kardashian photographed by Nick Knight


There’s no one who tells a story quite like John Galliano. From his work at Givenchy and Christian Dior through to his time at Maison Margiela, where he has held the position of artistic director since 2014, Galliano has dreamt up collections which have fed more than one generation of fashion devotees. Casting tales of imagined characters rooted in the historical past, from his 1984 graduate collection Les Incroyables inspired by French revolutionaries meets London club kid, through to the viral Maison Margiela Artisanal S/S 24 show which crawled into the depths of Brassaï's after-dark characters, the designer knows how to put on a show.

For this year's Met Gala, Galliano dressed 5 guests, each of whom transformed into imagined characters existing somewhere between reality and fantasy. Gwendoline Christie, who walked the S/S 24 artisanal show in January, donned a characteristically 18th century pouf and red velvet dress. Natasha Poonawalla wore a take on Look 21, whilst as co-chair Bad Bunny donned the show's animal hoof Tabi boots and suit with the maison's signature inside-out top stitch.

Perhaps the night’s most anticipated guest after her Marilyn Monroe stint last year, Kim Kardashian one-upped the red carpet paps by posting her custom Maison Margiela Artisanal look direct to Instagram, with photographs taken by Nick Knight. The look comprised of a silver metal skirt, a reference to Galliano's Christian Dior A/W 97 Haute Couture show, again proposing the idea of a garment as a piece of high jewellery. This time, the Margiela team developed new house techniques to bring vintage and antique fabrics and motifs to life, making the skirt from hand-wired metalwork, recreating the light reflecting properties of golden age couture bijoux via the 'filigrading' (a type of dégradé, whereby fabric is deteriorated) and cutting 'exfoliage' techniques. The skirt's silver lace, flowers, leaves and sprigs may nod to the Garden theme, but the deterioration of ultimate glamour motions to time and a bygone era of the golden age and bourgeoisie, nailing the theme of ephemerality which lies at the heart of this year's exhibition.

After debuting her return to The Met Gala in a custom Maison Margiela gown, co-chair Zendaya, styled by Law Roach, pulled out a Givenchy by Galliano S/S 96 haute couture fishtail gown, which appeared to be an ode to the themes of nature within the exhibition. Previously never worn, the actress brought life to the dress for the first time since it showed on the runway in Paris, reawakening a real-life Sleeping Beauty.



As one of the sponsors of this year’s Met Gala, it’s no wonder that all eyes were on Loewe creative director and honorary chair Jonathan Anderson, and his talented cohort. Already proving himself to be one of today’s most influential designers, — last month he madeTime’s 100 Most Influential People list — if there was one person capable of being creative with this year’s theme it would be Anderson, and he didn’t disappoint.

Hot off the heels of costuming Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers, it didn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Anderson would dress the film’s director and male leads. Putting a playful spin on black tie, Josh O’Connor wore a wool single-breasted jacket with elongated tails over a pearl beaded shirt. His onscreen BFF took a more quintessentially classic route with a satin trimmed doubled-breasted jacket, topped off with a jewelled radish broach. Still, the real menswear triumph from team Loewe came from funnyman Dan Levy. A longtime friend of Loewe and Jonathan Anderson (Levy wore a custom JW Anderson look to the 2021 Met Gala, and recently starred in Loewe’s Decades of Confusion fashion film alongside Aubrey Plaza. On the red carpet, Levy wore a black suit that gradients into a flowerbed of vibrant beads. The negative space effect symbolic of Ballard’s tale ending in the dissolution of its protagonist's garden.

Dan Levy

While last night's event showcased Galliano's undeniable prowess in storytelling, Anderson's spirit for innovation emerged equally noteworthy. Anna Wintour, Arianna Grande, and Ayo Edibiri graced the red carpet in standard garden-themed attire, but it was certified it-girls Greta Lee and Taylor Russell who truly stole the spotlight by highlighting Loewe’s surreal savoir-faire.

Both making their Met Gala debuts, the duo didn't disappoint in looks that pushed the limits of fashion design. As a global brand ambassador for Loewe, Lee has already proven she looks good in even Anderson's more surreal silhouettes, so it shouldn't shock that she opted for an architectural number referencing the designer's S/S 23 collection. Playing on ideas of protection and vulnerability, the white lace dress is defined by an elongated neckline doubling as a shield. As for Russell, the actress' trompe l'oeil corset, moulded to perfection and printed with a wood pattern through a technique called 'hydro sublimation' was a head-scratching knockout that had many questioning if the bodice was carved from real wood. Their daringness to push the boundaries of fashion are such to make them favourites for future Met Galas.

Taylor Russell



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