By Rachel Garrahan
Monday's Met Gala was all-out glamor, red carpet jewelry and sartorial derring-do as the stars stepped out at New York's most eagerly anticipated annual event.
The ball celebrated the opening of "China: Through the Looking Glass" - the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute, described by curator Andrew Bolton as an exploration of fashion's "fantasy of China".
Many guests chose a literal interpretation of the Eastern theme, with dragons, auspicious red, and fans aplenty. Sarah Jessica Parker divided opinion in a custom chinoiserie-inspired H&M gown and outsized Philip Treacy flaming headdress. Her red carpet jewelry included a beautiful Cindy Chao brooch in black and white diamonds, Fred Leighton diamond drop earrings, and custom-made jade bracelets from Jennifer Fisher.
Jade jewelry, unsurprisingly, was amongst the most popular of the colored gemstones on the night. Jade is the most esteemed of all precious stones in China and was worn by Lady Gaga in Fred Leighton. Actress Allison Williams also chose a Fred Leighton brooch to accessorize her Giambattista Valli couture gown.
Less Eastern-inspired - and more suited to the Grammys, perhaps - were several stars competing in the nearly nude stakes with only a few strategically placed sequins between them. Cameras flashed as Beyoncé stepped out in Givenchy Haute Couture, Kim Kardashian in Roberto Cavalli and Jennifer Lopez in Versace. J-Lo's Sutra high jewelry fan earrings succeeded in drawing attention away from her derrière, while Beyoncé and Kim dazzled in Lorraine Schwartz diamonds.
Jessica Chastain, meanwhile, brought old-school Hollywood glamor to Manhattan, wearing Art Deco-inspired Piaget jewelry ruby earrings, which stood out resplendently against her signature red hair and plunging golden Givenchy gown. Actress and event co-chair Gong Li also wore Piaget. Her long blue sapphire and emerald high jewelry earrings were a dramatic contrast to the deep raspberry red of her Cheongsam-inspired Roberto Cavalli dress.
Emily Blunt was one of the few selecting more muted tones at the Gala. She wore an embroidered Prada gown in the palest blue, with her red carpet jewelry consisting of a pair of one-of-a-kind sapphire orchid earrings for by Asian-American designer Anna Hu.
In one of the night's best looks, combining unadulterated luxury with refined elegance, Fan Bingbing chose yellow diamonds from Chopard to compliment her Christopher Bu golden dress and rainbow-bright cape. Also in Chopard jewelry was Katie Holmes, sporting a new bobbed haircut. The actress accessorized her Zac Posen dress with an exquisite pair of diamond chandelier earrings, a sapphire ring and several diamond bracelets from the Swiss brand's high jewelry collection.
Leave it to Rihanna, though, to make the entrance of the night, with a golden headpiece and Nouvelle Vague Cartier necklace to match her canary yellow gown with a red carpet-covering, fur-trimmed train. This extraordinary piece of showstopping couture was created by Guo Pei, the Chinese designer whose work features in the exhibition itself.