Let’s talk Met gala outfits

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Back in my old fancy days, I went to the Met gala a handful of times—a little before it was quite the big deal it is today—and I always really dreaded it, as any event headed by Anna Wintour has a chilly, uptight, decidedly un-fun vibe (take my word for it). But it was always good sport to spot the famous faces in the crowd, and I loved taking trips to the bathroom, where all the hottest actresses and models would convene for cigarettes. I thought too many of the outfits last night read like costumes, but there were some winners in the crowd, and I’m going to go ahead and say that AOC’s dress—designed by Aurora James of Brother Vellies—took the cake for me, as it was beautiful and made a statement. Disagree if you wish, and share your faves too: you can see all the outfits here and here.

With apologies to the maestros at Go Fug Yourself—who I could not begin to top in this sort of thing—I will now share my feelings on a few other outfits, like the one on Billie Eilish, who was just lovely.

I don’t even begin to understand this.

I loved this look from Lorde: it’s edgy and young but also rather pretty.

Now this is a ballgown. It is being worn by Normani, who is apparently a singer.

I adore Dan Levy, but didn’t know what to do with this outfit. Though I do like the Love is Love message.

This is such a pretty look for Alicia Keys, but the lace bra is distracting.

Gillian Anderson just continues to kill it.

Such a gorgeous dress on Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber. So elegant, with just a hint of sexiness. OK, there are about a million more outfits to assess, but I’ve got to go take a shower. Agree with me or have at me in the comments, please.

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60 Thoughts on Let’s talk Met gala outfits
    LisaR
    14 Sep 2021
    10:48am

    The outfits this year were such a letdown for me. Despite the many, many hours of craftsmanship, art and planning that I’m sure were involved, I just wasn’t wowed by how anyone looked. Also, it was disappointing given the theme than many chose to wear non-American designers. I don’t mean to be a downer — it is always fun to watch and recap!

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    SuzyKay
    14 Sep 2021
    10:50am

    I only wish AOC’s dress had been better fitted to her body! I saw some front shots (I know, I know, we were supposed to be looking at the back) I thought it looked a little frumpy and ill-fitted on her frame. Tight across the shoulders and loose around her midriff. Normani is a fantastic singer/dancer/gymnast. I’m not even a pop song fan but her song/video “Motivation” was in constant rotation for me when it came out a few years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKXSh14svlQ

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      Allison C
      15 Sep 2021
      1:42pm

      Yes! If anyone hasn’t seen that Normani video it is AMAZING! Love the song, and she’s an *incredible* dancer.

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    Tricia
    14 Sep 2021
    11:26am

    Can I just say how much I appreciate seeing you comment on an event like this. It’s a nice break from *gestures at everything.

    Not that I don’t appreciate the commentary on all the awful, it just feels like such a luxury to be looking at an event like this after everything over the last 18 months or so.

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    Kate
    14 Sep 2021
    11:30am

    AOC’s dress didn’t do it for me, and I love her. I found it rather on the nose and boring and at the same time not very credible at that event. I think I’m in the minority. On the other hand, I’m obsessed with Lupita Nyong’o’s denim gown.

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      melsybelsy
      16 Sep 2021
      9:19am

      Lupita never makes a fashion misstep and is incredibly stunning. Agreed. I thought her hair looked amazing too.

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    Mamavalveeta03
    14 Sep 2021
    11:30am

    I get the need to celebrate, post-pandemic (sort of, but not really?) but the Met Gala seems a bit tone deaf to me and just illustrates the huge divide between the haves and have nots in a time of economic uncertainty. They never miss the opportunity to be self-congratulatory!

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      Karen
      14 Sep 2021
      12:50pm

      Yes, thank you. Something/everything felt off, and i wasn’t able to quite get at what was bothering me. You’ve defined it perfectly, it was tone deaf. And IMO totally inappropriate for the times. And yes i know after all these months we all need to tell loose and life has to return to “normal” at some point, but I don’t think was the right time/event.

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        JS
        14 Sep 2021
        2:56pm

        Yup, and AOC’s tax the rich statement while she’s going to an ultra-exclusive, gazillion $$ per ticket event…so basically, hike the taxes to literally every single person in that room including yourself, right? Obnoxious for her to attend. kind of seems completely opposite to everything she stands for?

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          elizabethagain
          15 Sep 2021
          12:10am

          This is a fundraiser. The tickets are $35,000 to benefit the MET. But, often nonprofit fundraisers figure out ways to get celebrities to attend as a way of enticing rich patrons to pay to show up. AOC didn’t pay for her ticket; it was probably comped by the event organizers because it’s good for Anna Wintour to have a relationship with New York lawmakers. The celebrities didn’t pay for their tickets either.

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          Tanya
          14 Sep 2021
          11:19pm

          New York elected officials are routinely invited to the Met Ball. Point was made, people are talking about it. It being #taxtherich.

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          LJIS
          14 Sep 2021
          6:34pm

          Agreed. Some of the folks who need to be taxed more are at the event so…

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          Eliza B.
          14 Sep 2021
          4:40pm

          I read (somewhere) that she was “infiltrating” the event and I like that idea. She obviously did not pay for her ticket but the fact she used her presence, and the press it would garner, to push her message is something I really admire.

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            Karen
            14 Sep 2021
            7:41pm

            So…if she didn’t buy her ticket, who did? Sorry, that should have been disclosed. And honestly, i feel like that should have been on her dress as well. I admire her as well, and admire her ability to move the conversation forward, but this feels like out of step to me

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              Suju
              15 Sep 2021
              10:19am

              New York officials are invited to the event I assume by the Met since it’s their fundraiser. Her dress was borrowed and made by a Black designer and made a statement in front of the audience that needs to hear it.

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                Mamavalveeta03
                16 Sep 2021
                12:01am

                Yes, but will they?

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              Mary
              15 Sep 2021
              10:17am

              New York elected officials are automatically invited, much like is the case for many local nonprofit fundraisers – they just don’t usually make a splash the way she did.

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    LisaE
    14 Sep 2021
    11:34am

    I enjoy seeing all the photos – from my comfy middle aged lady play clothes perspective, it’s a delight to see everyone trying SO HARD. Do they all get it right? Maybe not, but kudos for trying. AOC was going to take flack for whatever she wore, so I admire her for going there (but understand the icky relation to Melania’s very poorly chosen jacket). I also wonder if Kaia’s dress was super glued to her. She looks SO much like her mother, it’s eerie! Also, J.Lo’s body is just amazing, and also must be a full time job! Does anyone understand what Kim Kardashian was doing? It seemed burkha-like to me.

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      Cameron Barry
      14 Sep 2021
      12:35pm

      Ditto for me on Kim K., who’s always appropriating something, but her garment’s resemblance to a burka seems even more tone deaf than usual.

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    Melissa
    14 Sep 2021
    11:35am

    Normani is a singer and a dancer. I liked Amanda Gorman, Keke Palmer, Mary J Blige, Iman and, Ilana Glazers looks. Tracee Ellis Ross was a let down for the first time.

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      Katie
      14 Sep 2021
      12:22pm

      I agree. Tracee Ellis Ross is my all time favorite fashion icon, but this look didn’t give me any feels.

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    cw
    14 Sep 2021
    12:52pm

    I thought Lorde’s “outfit”/”costume”/”dress” was interesting and lovely and I super appreciate that she wasn’t wearing sky high heels, but she looked sooooooooo uncomfortable I just wanted the camera to leave her alone. And when Zoe Kravitz walked out she had such a weird uncomfortable frozen look on her face and then she turned around and there was her butt-naked bottom. Seriously? Ick. Run Channing, run!

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    Mae
    14 Sep 2021
    12:55pm

    I just cracked up at how Gillian Anderson looks like she’s got a big old ’80’s ponytail coming outta the side of her head!

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    Viajera
    14 Sep 2021
    12:41pm

    It could be I don’t understand the theme – I translate it as “do whatever.” Which to me is what they did. Most people did not look good *or* interesting. I am not against frivolity when it’s done well. … … … I try not to criticize people personally, so let me see, who do I think looked good and interesting? Hmm. Ah, I liked Lil Nas’ outfits. He at least had fun. I liked the sequin bubble lady (near the bottom – no idea who that is) and the Iris Van Herpen. The sequin pinstripe suit and the huge pink feather cloak – very nice!! I want a pair of those Hamish shoes!!! Yes yes yes. I rather liked Lupita and J Lo’s looks. J Lo as Clint Eastwood – why not? Is that guy in red wearing a parachute?? That’s kinda fun. What the hey, it’s good for the economy…

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      Eloise
      14 Sep 2021
      12:44pm

      I think many of the attendees “do whatever” every year, but in some case that may be my not seeing subtleties?

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    Adrienne
    14 Sep 2021
    12:43pm

    I loved Amanda Gorman’s Vera Wang royal blue gown, the beautiful rhinestone bling artfully placed around her eyes, her laurel crown (what else for poet laureate?) and her “book” handbag with a quote from the Statue of Liberty. Her homage to Lady Liberty was so well thought out; we can expect more amazing works and words from this young lady and I’m looking forward to it!

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      Gablesgirl
      14 Sep 2021
      8:19pm

      I actually thought Emily Blount nailed it on the Statue of Liberty look.

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    L.
    14 Sep 2021
    12:32pm

    I don’t think many people understood nor was inspired with what they were going for with the theme. I mean, it’s an odd time to be celebrating “Americana” with what went on with Afghanistan. Of course, I don’t think Wintour could’ve possibly foresaw that happening months ahead. That said, I loved Iman’s look. Naomi Osaka’s outfit seems a few themes behind with Rei Kawabuko. I don’t even understand JLo; who let her go out like that? In fact, a lot of the outfits look like the lowly remainders of all the past met gala events culminating to this night. I will say though, the guests were decidedly a lot different (a good thing?) than the previous!

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      Dina
      14 Sep 2021
      12:36pm

      J.Lo’s look was by Ralph Lauren and an ode to the American West. I didn’t love it but I did appreciate that it was from an iconic American designer and seemed to be one of just a few looks that respected the theme of the event!

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        L.
        14 Sep 2021
        7:23pm

        It’s unfortunate the appreciation is shadowed by the poor execution of the entire ensemble and frankly, nowhere near to be Met Gala-worthy.

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    CeeJay
    14 Sep 2021
    10:14am

    Love AOC but that dress just did not hit the right note for me. The Met Ball is about elite as you can get, and I cannot even imagine how much the dress might cost in a store. I get that AOC herself may not have a lot of money but she is certainly hanging with some really wealthy folks and seems to be having a lot of fun – good for you AOC but it always hard to have your cake and eat it too. And then there is the Melania reference … ironic? The Melania jacket was so awful in its disdainful for the unfathomable cruelty in separating childen from parents at the border. I think all references should be avoided, even if they are expressing a good sentiment. But that’s me, interested to hear others’ opinions.

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      Jackie
      14 Sep 2021
      10:57am

      Thank you. My feelings exactly. Feels very tone deaf.

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      Eloise
      14 Sep 2021
      10:35am

      I agree with you on the Melania reference, however well-intentioned, it hit a sour note with me, too.

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      Fran
      14 Sep 2021
      2:32pm

      I think AOC’s dress was the height of hypocrisy: one can say anything they want – but it’s SO out of place where the tickets are $35K. Does she think this made a difference??? Why go at all? Totally baffling & self-serving, IMO.

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        Lori
        15 Sep 2021
        6:13am

        She didn’t pay for her ticket, of course — politicians and celebrities are comped. She was there to make a point, and it seems she did!

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    y.k.
    14 Sep 2021
    10:29am

    I love AOC & loved the dress. Yes to all your points CeeJay, but i think i took it all more lightly. Also, I’m all for simplicity but I think Kaia ‘s look is crying out for some jewelry – so many beautiful bracelets in the world perfect for this.
    looking forward to deep dive …

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    The Prof
    14 Sep 2021
    10:29am

    Loved AOC wearing that dress — if you’re at the Met gala, you will be photographed more than any other time, so send your message! I also loved JLo, because the theme was Americana. Ralph Lauren put her in one of his western looks. Many dresses were beaut and some outfits were ridiculous, but I always like those who stick to the theme. Ciara in the football dress was another.

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    Eloise
    14 Sep 2021
    10:34am

    Can you say “rabbit hole?!!!?” And, anyone else wondering if anyone actually physically reached over to pull Kaia’s gorgeous dress up?

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      Meg
      14 Sep 2021
      11:36am

      The Fug Girls would call that pull-up gesture a “hoik”😊

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    E E Deere
    15 Sep 2021
    12:12pm

    I almost forgot. Let’s put all the Kardashians in black tarps. They can stand in front of that black velvet curtain over there.

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    E E Deere
    15 Sep 2021
    11:51am

    I didn’t mind AOC’s dress. I thought she was being true to herself, and her agenda, and did it in a saucy way. Why not march right into that party and say what you want?
    Amanda Gorman, Billie Eilish, and Kaia Gerber all looked absolutely lovely our young beautiful and elegant women. And I loved seeing strong and beautiful women athletes, all of them. I can’t choose a favorite among them. Maybe Simone Biles for physical strength and her smile
    If we are going to go for odd/camp/obscure my favorite is Hamish Bowles, with his crazy Lady LIberty hair and a big smile.
    I guess smiles are winning the night for me, we have been shut inside for so long.

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    Gablesgirl
    14 Sep 2021
    8:22pm

    Can someone please help me with Kim K? Not that I like than clan but I have no idea what statement she was making. BLM?

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    Karin
    14 Sep 2021
    8:51pm

    Aside from Debbie Harry and Billie Eilish, these looks left me cold (or gagging!) I don’t get what most of them had to do with the theme. Although I also liked Kim K’s outfit.

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    elizabethagain
    15 Sep 2021
    12:07am

    Tom and Lorenzo posted the really lovely explanation of Dan Levy’s outfit, which provides really helpful context for the choice. I think it’s over the top, but since he was one of the few men who went for it, I love it.

    https://tomandlorenzo.com/2021/09/met-gala-2021-dan-levy-in-loewe/

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      CS
      15 Sep 2021
      8:48am

      Thanks for this link. I didn’t understand what the outfit was referencing, but now I really appreciate Dan and the designer’s choice.

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    Liz
    15 Sep 2021
    2:28am

    AOC’s dress seemed like a safe move for her. It would’ve been more significant if she’d lead an actual protest outside the Gala like she did outside Pelosi’s office on her first day as a House member. Like someone above said, this looks a little too much like she’s trying to have her cake and eat it, too. While she’s a great House member, I think she also clearly relishes her own celebrity. And, I mean, it’s not as though any of the celebrities there could actually be shocked that AOC believes the rich should be taxed.

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    Lori
    15 Sep 2021
    6:50am

    Many guests seemed to ignore the theme this year, even referencing past years’ themes — and soooo much intricate/expensive nudity? Really appreciate the outfits on Ross, Emhoff, Lupita, and Burch, and enjoy Timmy’s sweats. Karlie is somehow managing to wear that STATEMENT red dress, rather than it wearing her. Biles’ ensemble is … confusing; and what is Kim K. even doing?? Kaia looks gorgeous, but am dying to add an inch of leaves/petals to the top edge of her bodice – and to give Claire Danes a similar hoik. JLo may have hewed to theme, but she looks patently trashy, ridiculous, overheated, and uncomfortable — as if in costume as a B-western madame, circa late-19th-century, for too many hours? And Emma Chamberlain looks lovely, but what *is* she doing there?

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    Dish Stanley
    14 Sep 2021
    11:42am

    Billie Eilish stole it for me. Not just bc she looked so perfectly gorgeous and her dress hugged her feminine curves like a sexy mask, but also because it’s been so inspiring to see her evolve and (dare I say it) mature before our eyes. I love the moment she is in right now – strong and opinionated and feminine and grown-up but still young and full of spirit – and the dress captured this moment in her arc. Agree on the many AOC comments above, as well as with you on the drop-dead smokin’ Gillian Anderson. In the arty/costumes corner, I liked Erika Badu’s Thom Browne outfit – it was fun and over-the-top. Tom Ford looked characteristically like ten million bucks.

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    Dish Stanley
    14 Sep 2021
    11:46am

    And thanks for the Clare V bag link! I am headed to Italy and Tangier for a few weeks and I need a great transitional crossbody bag for travel that is versatile for casual day to smart casual dinner. That woven black bag is the bomb, and I also got the extra cream/black strap with it make it even sportier for day. The size is perfect too! I think it’s worth the splurge given all that I will be able to do with it. Thank you!

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    Mimi A.
    14 Sep 2021
    11:56am

    I’ve never paid attention to the Met Gala red carpet because the getups worn aren’t fashion, they’re costume, and mostly ridiculous ones at that. My sense of humor vis a vis fashion in the media is rather lacking because when I was a young fashion editor I had to contend with a boorish (male) photo editor who thought presenting the worst, strangest runway photos was funny. Do we ridicule art? Or theater? I agree with CeeJay and hate AOC’s gown. Love Kaia Gerber’s look. On a bustier woman the gown might have been vulgar, but her youth, low key makeup and classic Grace Kelly hairdo make her look innocent and elegant. Jennifer Lopez has a raging case of exhibitionism. A friend produced the Academy Awards shows in the early aughts and I remember him complaining about the time JLO was a presenter and when she walked out in a gown with a transparent bodice they had to move the cameras up so the world wouldn’t see her completely exposed breasts. Cleavage can be beautiful, but her compulsion to show everything is trashy. My, aren’t I cranky this morning!

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      Lynne
      15 Sep 2021
      2:37pm

      Thank you for your J Lo comments; I’ve been trying to put into words why her recent looks bother me so much. She is obviously a beautiful ;woman, in amazing shape and she just glows. But her fashion choices are desperate to me. She is gorgeous, she doesn’t need to dress the way she does to get attention. Everything is so tight, sheer, low cut etc. She can carry it off, but why? The skirt she wore to the VMA’s just left me shaking my head. I’m all for sexy, and if she wants to wear it, more power to her, but it does seem like she needs SO much attention.

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      C.M.
      14 Sep 2021
      8:21pm

      Interesting that you’re choosing to trash all women of color.

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        Mimi A.
        16 Sep 2021
        11:23am

        Interesting that you’re seeing something that isn’t there, C.M. I didn’t “choose to trash women of color.” I merely commented on choices I didn’t like. Until you mentioned it, it never occurred to me that I’d criticized WOC.

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    Elisa
    14 Sep 2021
    12:05pm

    Debbie Harry’s tattered American flag dress by Zac Posen. 👍

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    Rebecca Braverman
    14 Sep 2021
    12:06pm

    I enjoyed the distraction but, as the kids say, not everyone “understood the assignment.” Part of the joy for this fashion bystander is seeing how attendees hew to (or fully disregard) the theme.

    “American fashion” is broad, but so many of the looks (or lewks) just felt…like something else entirely. I will say that I don’t think this demanded American designers, and I’m OK with a tangential relation to the theme (Dan Levy paid tribute to an American artist—close enough!)

    My big letdown was my fave Kacey Musgraves, who turned it out at the VMAs and bored me last night. Kacey, you dressed up as literal Barbie once, and love to play with Americana/cowgirl stuff, and this is what you give us?

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    Sharona
    14 Sep 2021
    8:11pm

    No love for Iman?

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      Jenny
      14 Sep 2021
      8:37pm

      I loved Iman!

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        Cora
        15 Sep 2021
        7:19am

        All the love for Iman! She looked spectacular, like a goddess of the sun.

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    Margaret
    15 Sep 2021
    10:47pm

    My former boss, EIC of a famous publication but also something of a bumpkin, once cut his meat at a National Magazine Awards dinner and it went flying and landed at Anna Wintour’s feet. She was NOT amused. High point of the event for him, though.

    Is the belt/trim on Lorne’s dress made of squished pennies?

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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