The Met Gala isn’t an awards show but it should be.
Accolades could be given out for the array of over-the-top gowns and jewels that ascend the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art each first Monday in May to raise money for the museum’s Costume Institute (and I’m sure winners would be happy to accept an invitation to next year’s gala as their prize, rather than a statuette.)
Infinitely more fashion-centric and daring than the Oscars, Golden Globes or Grammy’s red carpets, the Met Gala itself could be in the running for most stylish event of the year, though I’m waiting to submit final judgment on that until this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Until real awards are given out, I’ve come up with my own categories for the jewelry that managed to compete with the evening’s dresses, which is no easy feat when this year’s gala theme is designer eccentric Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons.
Without further ado …
BEST REAL-LIFE WAY TO EMBRACE AVANT-GARDE: Daisy Ridley in Nirav Modi
In honor of the new Costume Institute exhibit, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between, guests at the Met Gala were instructed to adhere to an “avant-garde” dress code.
Daisy Ridley translated cutting-edge to real-life with her mismatched pair of Nirav Modi earrings. She wore the brand’s Celestial Earring in her right ear and Luminance Long Earring in her right ear.
Both styles feature white diamonds set in 18-karat white gold, but the design differences and disparity in length make this look a mismatched earring trend must-try.
BEST HEADPIECE: Elle Fanning in Fred Leighton
The Met Gala is exactly the kind of event where one can get away with wearing a crown, so I don’t know why more attendees don’t embrace them.
Leave it to the always impeccably outfitted Elle Fanning to take the plunge and don a head piece.
This aquamarine and diamond Fred Leighton antique perfectly embodies Fanning’s angelic style.
BEST MAKE-THE-JEWELRY-SHOW-UP-IN-A-PICTURE LOOK: Cassie in Rinaldy A. Yunardi
No one could accuse singer Cassie of being a wallflower in this major custom “Starburst” ear piece from accessories designer Rinaldy A. Yunardi .
Lest any photographer not get her best side, she opted to wear a matching pair.
BEST EMERALDS: Serena Williams in XIV Karats
Though it’s typically the other way around, I’d like to think that Serena Williams matched her emerald-color dress to these jaw-dropping emerald earrings from XIV karats, which I’d bet were custom-designed for the occasion.
But they weren’t the only jewelry magic the pregnant star was serving up…
BEST WATCH: Serena Williams in Audemars Piguet
Williams wore what, on first glance, appeared to be a diamond-encrusted spike bracelet. But it was actually the Audemars Piguet Diamond Outrage watch, valued at $1.25 million.
One of the design’s spikes opens up to reveal the watch face.
BEST RED-CARPET SURPRISE: Wendi Deng Murdoch in Cindy Chao
Continuing with the surprise theme, Wendi Deng Murdoch interpreted avant-garde through her jewelry, rather than her dress.
She wore Cindy Chao’s Emerald Foliage earrings. They feature oval-shape cabochon emeralds and yellow diamonds set in 18-karat white gold and yellow gold.
BEST IRENE NEUWIRTH MOMENT: Sarah Paulson in Irene Neuwirth
I expect at least one good Irene Neuwirth moment at any major red carpet event and I got it via these major sapphire earrings actress Sarah Paulson wore.
BEST BROOCH: Keri Russell in David Webb
Keri Russell sported this cabochon ruby, diamond, 18-karat gold and platinum David Webb brooch.
True to the night’s theme, her selection was out of the box–brooches were few and far between on the Met steps and I would have loved to see more.
For extra credit, check out Russell’s David Webb ring below.
BEST JEWELRY STYLING: Tie–Lauren Santo Domingo and Claire Daines in Fred Leighton
Moda Operandi founder and all-around fashion socialite powerhouse Lauren Santo Domingo is famous for her style and this is why.
She combined bold fine jewelry in the form of her diamond earrings and necklace with an equally bold costume piece, a large silver choker.
Stylists take note–this is how jewelry styling is done.
Claire Daines’ stylist needs no lesson. This Fred Leighton brooch that Danes wore in her hair was my second favorite brooch of the night. It’s an antique steel style from around 1850, paired with antique yellow gold and seed pearl earrings.
With a little creativity, antiques can look completely modern.
BEST JEWELS OVERSHADOWED BY COMMES DES GARCONS: Rihanna in Chopard
No matter how major the outfit, Rihanna would never skimp on the jewels.
The powerhouse singer is a major jewelry lover and often supports independent designers by buying their pieces.
At the gala she wore Chopard, a result of her collaboration with the brand, though clearly her Commes des Garcons captured the most visual attention.
BEST JEWELRY LOOK OF THE NIGHT: Model Anna Cleveland in Ana Khouri
Cleveland was a vision in Ana Khouri.
She wore mismatched earrings and a head piece by the designer.
This is how any jewelry designer would love for their pieces to be worn: several pieces together that create a total design narrative.
It doesn’t get better than that.