F*** the Met Gala
I had the pleasure of seeing Joan Rivers performing live last night. It’s the second time I’ve gone to see her in concert, and I noticed something that I never noticed before. Her onstage wardrobe is distinctly different than her offstage wardrobe.
Last night she appeared in a simple black shirt and pants combo paired with some very high black heels. Overtop of these basics, however, she wore a shiny fuchsia jacket that was not only visible from the back row, but also from the International Space Station. Her accessories included a matching feather boa that she claimed cost $600 and some very flashy jewelry from her own collection — available in Canada on The Shopping Channel, as she was quick to point out.
I also saw her in the 80s. On that occasion she wore a beaded taffeta concoction that was typical of the time. When she was taking her final bows, a crystal bead flew off her dress and into my lap. I still have it, but that’s a story for another day (or for my therapist who is sure to ask me why I tend to fixate upon funny women). For now just let me say that the bead wasn’t really crystal at all, but plastic.
Now this was before the days of Swarovski crystal-encrusted everything. Nevertheless, the bead was a little downmarket for Joan, who I believe is one of the best-dressed women in show business. Say what you will about her red carpet antics, she walks the talk better than any fashion critic alive. She might not be Cathy Horyn or Hilary Alexander, but who cares? Always age-appropriate but never old, she knows her clothes and her clothes are gorgeous.
So why was she wearing a dress covered in cheap plastic beads? Why was she carrying a fuschia boa? I guess it’s because she’s a “performer,” as Cher would call her, according to the story Joan told during her curtain call. What looks good from the back row isn’t the same as what looks good on the red carpet. What looks good on the video monitor in the auditorium isn’t going to look so hot when the paparazzi swarms you at Katsuya and the shots end up in The Star. You know who knows this? Performers.
It made me think that it would be wonderful idea to theme a Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala after funny ladies like Joan Rivers and Cher. There’s a nearly bottomless archive of film and television costumes available, never mind the glorious creations worn by legendary performers such as Carol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, Dame Edna Everage and RuPaul. The Bob Mackie archive alone could fill a museum.
I’d like to see the Met Gala get a little less stuffy. Next year’s event, co-chaired by Oprah, seems destined to be a little too self-important. Perhaps Joan Rivers could chair the event in 2011 and bring it back to a place where the frivolity of fashion takes center stage again. Seeing this comic legend and fashion icon live last night made me believe that she’s exactly the right woman for the job.
I even thought of a name for the event, as indicated in the title of this post. I’ll agree to let the Met use it, just as long as they invite me. Deal?