Why it’s impossible to be the worst dressed at the Met Ball

Fashion's big party night is the one time when traditional red carpet rules fly out of the window - and rightly so

(Image credit: rex)

Fashion's big party night is the one time when traditional red carpet rules fly out of the window - and rightly so

It's easy to forget the red carpet scene wasn't always the great hoopla it is today. In the last decade we've seen 'the arrival' balloon to such proportions that it counts as an event all on its own.

At Cannes Film Festival celebrities will very often spend 45 minutes slowly walking the 50ft slice of red carpet by the French Riviera for a film premiere, only to slip back into the car without entering the building. Little wonder celebrity stylists have built lucrative business empires helping their famous clients navigate the PR-exercise of walking from car door to entrance.

And with every stitch a celebrity wears now planned out to the nth degree, things have got a little bit... boring. A little bit 'better wear that nice red column dress that looks good in HD' safe.

But if there's one night of the year when all that restraint files out of the window, it's the Met Gala. Hosted once a year in New York City, what was formerly the Costume Institute Gala is the equivalent of that James DeMonaco's film The Purge, where once a year all crime is legal for 24 hours only. It's high fashion hallowe'en - a night when all those 'hit or miss' lists are totally missing the point.

Because why on earth throw a party celebrating all the outrageous upper echelons of high fashion if you can't really go for it? It's a time for gigantic tulle trains and feathery head pieces, for giant glittering Prada fish scales and luxurious Marc Jacobs silver turbans (hello Kate Moss).

It's why Rihanna swept into 2015's China: Through The Looking Glass themed ball in a huge Guo Pei cape that pooled on the floor behind her like a stuffed crust pizza, and why a heavily pregnant Kim Kardashian ditched the boring old nude and black routine and wore head to toe Givenchy 'sofa' florals.

Because playing it safe at the Met is like being given a fast car and driving it around in a 30mph limit. 'Go big or go home' is pretty much mandatory.

Last year's Met Gala theme was tech (Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology) which left plenty of room for dresses threaded with LED lights, shimmery iRobot silver and in the case of Zayn Malik, an actual pair of Versace bionic arms.

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Never shy with a sheer fabric or a peekabo detail, Madonna went big (or perhaps the appropriate word is small) in this Givenchy ensemble, apparently inspired by kinesiology tape.

Surprisingly Sarah Jessica Parker, who can usually always be counted on to go big, was unusually sedate last year in a white frock coat.

But it was Claire Danes - normally queen of the understated column dress - who stole the show Rihanna-style in a Zac Posen Cinderella number in fiber-optic woven organza which glowed in the dark.

Would you ever catch Danes in a glow in the dark dress at the Golden Globes or the SAGs? But that is, of course, exactly the point.

We can't wait to see what this year's theme, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between, brings.

Lucy Pavia