Best Of The Met Gala 2016

And once again, Anna Wintour has thrown me an early birthday party and forgotten to invite me.  It’s really just getting obnoxious at this point.  I guess I’ll have to return her hostess gift- a bottle of two-buck Chuck and a Target candle.  Your loss, Anna.

And in case you, dear reader, need a brief review on what exactly the Met Gala is, here is the quickest definition I can give you- the Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala hosted by Anna Wintour (editor in chief of Vogue, in case that was needed) for my birthday the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.  It celebrates the opening of that year’s Costume Institute exhibit too, which remains open for a couple months, but the main purpose of the Gala is to fund that exhibit.  So, yes, what this whole thing boils down to at the most fundamental level is, more or less, a fundraiser.

But of course, we all know that’s not really what it is in its essence.  The Met Gala is not just a fundraiser.  I don’t think any of us can picture Beyonce showing up to a country club for a dinner of chicken, rice pilaf, and veggie medley, and then merrily writing a check for $100 after a PowerPoint presentation and a bit of pinot noir in a disposable wine glass. No, to call the Met Gala a fundraiser really does not do it justice, even if that’s what it is by definition.  With the highly exclusive invite list overseen by Anna herself, the press coverage second to none, and the accompaniment of some highfalutin theme each year, the Met Gala is sort of what the fashion world recognizes as THEE event.  If you’ve been invited to the Met Gala, that’s one of the most influential authorities in fashion telling you you’ve made it and you’re welcome to now use emojis when texting her.  Or something like that.

Of course, I have become rather cynical toward Vogue over the years as I believe it’s started to warp into a mere celebrity platform with a bit of tabloid flavor.  A bit of that came out in tonight’s red carpet, as well.  Vogue now seems more about staying pop culturally relevant as opposed to remaining the revered fashion authority it has been; more about pimping the names of models with six million or more Instagram followers than celebrating the creativity and innovation of designers and artists around the world.  First came the Kim and Kanye cover of April 2014, then the single special edition devoted entirely to Kendall Jenner, and most recently, a perfectly timed May 2016 Taylor Swift cover that has gone hand in hand with her new “edgy” makeover.  It’s all just in time for the Gala as Swift co-chaired this year, yet I can’t help but feel that the Wintour influence has been unbearably obvious and heavy-handed in her case.  I’m never a fan of a makeover feeling manufactured or manipulated for press or publicity, and I have to say that Taylor Swift’s choice of outfit this year was … well … let’s just say that it looked like a stylist from Charlotte Russe got hold of her as opposed to Nicolas Ghesquiere himself.  I was, admittedly, very disappointed.  I find my feelings toward the Met Gala overall sort of turning in the same direction as my feelings for Vogue- it’s starting to be difficult to take seriously.  However, I don’t want to stop enjoying things I love such as fashion, so I’ll attempt to overlook the Hunger Games Capitol flavor its taken on and just take it for what it is- a fashion show.

So anyhow, the theme of this year’s ball was “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology”.  Your eyes may have rolled into the back of your head after reading that, but I have to say that very few attendees of this year’s event seemed to stick with the theme or even try to dress to the theme because, after all, how exactly can you dress for a “tech” theme?  Dress like an iPhone?  Accessorize with a fax machine to be ironic?  You could wear a light-up dress as one celebrity did, but even that’s already been done by Katy Perry at a previous year’s Gala.  What we did see were a TON of metallics, a massive trend toward dark and vampy lips, a whole lotta model chicks in Balmain (which I’m super over btw), and just a whole lotta WEIRD in general.  It was perhaps the strangest red carpet I’ve seen in a while.

So here are the looks that I enjoyed the most when considering every element including hair, makeup, and accessories.

Zoe Saldana in Dolce & Gabbana

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Ah yes, there’s my girl Zoe bringing it once again in an insane dress that looks like she’s carrying a jungle with her, complete with birds and palm trees and flowers.  But really, I love this.  This is the kind of statement that I’m looking for.  And I cannot wait for an up-close shot of the skirt so I can see it in full detail.  How it goes with the tech theme I do not know, but like I said earlier, the theme got kind of thrown out this window this year from what I can tell.  With minimal makeup and low-maintenance, Zoe’s look was a win for me.

Kate Bosworth in Dolce & Gabbana

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This was the first dress that I really squealed over.  I love just how much detail is in involved in this gown.  How do you even begin to envision something like this?!  That bodice is exquisite!  And I love the jeweled “floral” headpiece.  It’s a modern rendering of an ancient Etruscan goddess, complete with glowing, angelic skin.  And can someone PLEASE find of what lip color that is?!  I’ll be scrolling through Insta all night trying to find out.

Lupita Nyong’o on Calvin Klein Collection

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Might it be the most ambitious hairdo we’ve ever seen on a red carpet?  Perhaps.  But Lupita has taken an avant-garde turn in fashion that sort of allows her to try whatever and pull it off, even if it’s basically haute couture Cindy Lou-Hoo.  And please take a look at this gown.  It is mesmerizing.  Such a lovely, refreshing color with texture that makes her some kind of beautiful cross between a mermaid and the Empire State building!

Jennifer Connelly in Louis Vuitton

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I chose this look because A) it’s representative of the very casual vibe that many folks went for on this year’s Met Gala red carpet but B) this particular casual look seemed to work out better than others.  And C) because it’s Jennifer Connelly and I’m obsessed with her and I all-too-frequently give her a free pass.  This was one of many, many Louis Vuitton outfits seen tonight too, but I much preferred this look as opposed to say, Selena Gomez’s.  Jennifer’s look feels edgy and elegant until you get to the boots (which are freakin’ tight if you ask me), whereas Selena’s just felt much, much too casual from top to bottom.

Beyonce in Givenchy

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Bey’s eyes are only half open.  I’m thinking she’s just a little tired from waterboarding everyone with lemonade these days, and the fact that she’s currently on tour.  Yeah, she has a show in Raleigh, North Carolina in less than 24 hours.  Bey better take a nap or she’s gonna fall asleep on stage!  But her latex Givenchy dress is pretty rad, I must say.  I like a weird texture on a dress, and I miss all the exaggerated shoulders from five years ago.  I also really love Beyonce’s hair when it’s straight with a center part for some reason.  It is just so pretty.  And I never met a smokey eye I didn’t like, or black manicure I didn’t like.

Emma Stone in Prada

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Is this woman starting to look more and more like Margot Robbie by the minute?  They’re morphing into one person and it’s scaring me.  But I digress.  I liked the overall effect of this, especially with Emma’s new, rich hair color.  I’m not sure why I like it so much; it has the feel of a Roman gladiator which, again, is nowhere near the tech vibe that we were supposed to be going for, but oh well.  It flatters Emma beautifully and I cannot wait for makeup closeups.  Rachel Goodwin is forever and always a makeup genius.

Brie Larson in Proenza Schouler

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I love any dress that looks like it may have taken a billion hours to make, and this is no exception.  I would choose to wear something like this if I were attending the Met Gala, though I’d typically prefer something floor length because when do we normal humans ever get to wear anything floor length besides pants?!  I like that this dress is very feminine and sweet in its silhouette, but the severe hair and makeup keep the look from going in a direction too cloying.  Just the right amount of girly-girl married with futurism.

And there you have it.  I almost wish I had done a “roast post” on all of the other absolutely ridiculous looks we saw this evening, but I feel that’s not my brand.  I’ll mention just a couple stray observations:

  • The Kardashians always look like the Kardashians, and always wear Balmain, all the time.  I feel that I’m completely numb to their effects now.  I always seem to know exactly what they’re going to look like these days.  Even Kanye wearing blue contacts feels blasé.  And will someone please convince him to wear something other than denim?!
  • Madonna’s face looks so painfully stretched that my teeth hurt just looking at her.  I’m making a dental appointment.
  •   “Naked” dresses feel so last year, and yet we still saw way too many of them.
  • Katy Perry is Katy Perry.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker has never looked worse!  That broke my heart.  I have no idea what she was thinking.  I get that she’s SJP, mais quelle horreur!
  • Too much white, too many metallics.
  • Where have all the eyebrows gone?
  • I feel like we have seen Amber Heard in the exact same look before, from head to toe.
  • Naomi Watts looked lovely, but I feel like I’ve also seen her in that same exact look before.
  • Olivia Wilde is really into metallic chokers.
  • Blake Lively always looks like Blake Lively.
  • Idris Elba showed up looking like the living, breathing definition of James Bond, but oh yes, he’s too “street” to take over the role apparently. Smh.

Share with me your thoughts, criticisms, and wailings of lament.  And in the words of Miranda Priestley, “That’s all”.  xo, MR

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Drugstore Cowgirl Part 3

I recently realized that I’ve lost my NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella.  I have no idea where it is.  It doesn’t help that I’ve moved across the country within the past month by car.  That lip crayon could be anywhere.  For all I know some lucky corn farmer in Nebraska discovered the greatest shade of red lying in his field just off the highway a couple weeks ago, and is now wearing it proudly as he drives his John Deere.  Bless him.

The real bummer is that normally, I would take a jaunt down to my nearest Sephora this weekend and pick up a brand new lip crayon to replace my lost one.  However, I am currently searching for jobs and waiting for many application responses.  And while our bank account isn’t in dangerous territory by most standards, something about purchasing a … *gulps with guilt* … thirty dollar lipstick these days feels slightly out of responsible boundaries right now.

And now that I think about it, maybe the real, REAL bummer is the fact that I thought I needed a NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella when I also have a NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, MAC’s matte lipstick in Ruby Woo, and MAC’s lipstick in Russian Red.  Just silly.  Maybe one shade of red can be good enough for now.  After all, where did fifty shades of grey get us?  It got us nowhere.  In relationships, in literature, in filmmaking, as women- nowhere.  And I don’t want to be ignorant of history and repeat humankind’s same mortal mistakes.

Anyways, now that you’re done being angry with me, we can move on to the main subject- drugstore finds!  And I’m talking drugstore finds that I have purchased and then used multiple times, much more than once.  With a renewed mindfulness toward money, I’m seeing that finding value in a great drugstore find is something to be relished.  Finding something that really works well for under ten dollars is just the best.  Sure, you’re lacking the “name”, or the pretty compact, or the lovely fragrance emitting from your mascara (I’m looking at you, DiorShow), but seriously- who cares?

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Speaking of shades of red, Revlon’s Ultra HD Lipstick in Gladiolus is an amazing drugstore choice.  I purchased it when I got the run-down of Emma Stone’s makeup at this year’s SAG awards, which I was obsessed with.  Her makeup artist, Rachel Goodwin, has done a brilliant job at incorporating new Revlon products into Emma’s looks.  What I really like about this formula is that it’s very comfortable.  This is not a matte shade at all, which is what I typically go for, but after wearing so many matte shades you tend to forget that lipstick actually can be creamy and comfortable (and as much as I love Ruby Woo, it makes my lips dry as a desert).  Such is the case with the Ultra HD; it’s very easy to wear.  I find that this shade is not brick or orange-y, and not too blue-based either.  It’s really beautiful on Emma with fair skin, but I also found it to be flattering on my skin tone which is more of an olive at times.  If you’re looking for a cheap red to try, I recommend this to you.

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I sometimes feel bad advocating for drugstore hair products because I know that salons rely heavily on their retail sales and I’m very much about supporting local salons.  However, hairspray is one product that I have never purchased from a salon because I don’t use it very often, and I honestly haven’t seen much of a difference in quality between salon hairspray or drugstore brands.  Moreover, some drugstore hairspray fragrances are so nostalgic to me.  Aussie, anyone?  And I will always associate Tresseme’s hairspray scent with my mom, who uses it every morning.

There was one occasion though when I needed a heavy duty hairspray that would hold an updo and help with teasing (which I hate to do).  I was going to a Halloween party as Holly Golightly, and I needed to recreate her French twist with all the volume at the crown.  L’Oreal’s Boost It High Lift Creation Spray is like the monster glue of hairspray, in my opinion.  You know when a hairspray isn’t so much a mist as it is a web?  That’s this stuff.  It has a backcombing, mattifying effect that was perfect for my updo on Halloween.  You can spray it and then tease a section of hair into Dolly Parton oblivion, or just mist it all over your hair and then watch it not move for the next 24 hours.  And the scent is very addicting but very strong, so, it’s basically smack as hairspray.  Proceed with caution.

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I used CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar for the first time one month ago when I was staying at my mom-in-law’s house after we’d moved out of our apartment.  The scent is very clinical and soapy to me, but the soft texture it left behind on my skin was unmistakable.  I couldn’t wait for showers when using this bar, and I’ve continued to purchase it out here in Illinois.  I’ve always used body washes dispensed from bottles, and I have a tendency to probably use too much as a time and a lot more than is needed.  You have that advantage with a soap bar in that you’re not squeezing too much out, but the disadvantage is that the bar gets wet over time and can dissolve when you’re not using it, causing you to lose soap that way.  Regardless, I’ve been keeping CeraVe in rotation in our shower and will probably continue to do so when things get really windy in the winter.

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As I continue to grow out my hair in my endless quest for whatever it is I think I’m looking for, I’m starting to refocus my efforts on maintaining healthy and full ends.  This task used to be my number one priority when it came hair, but my recent chop has granted me some freedom in not having to think of split or broken ends so much.  Though my hair hasn’t reached my collar bone yet, I’m trying to become conscious again about heat protectants, being careful with aggressive hair ties, and using products that help to at least give the illusion of fuller ends.  I don’t think Garnier Fructis’ Full and Plush Ends Plumper Amplifying Leave-In Serum does a ton in the way of split end prevention, but it does at least temporarily seal ends to give them a healthier look.  This is also a good thing for volume as my hair starts to grow out and loses its natural volume that came from such a short cut.  I sampled Bumble and bumble’s new Full Potential line the other day and rubbed some of the Garner into my ends before hitting my hair with a blow-dryer for about three minutes, and wowie- my hair got huge, and not just from the scalp but all over.

Maybe one of these days I’ll suddenly find my lost Cruella in a box or jean pocket, but for now, I’m sticking with what I already have or learning to love the cheap stuff.  I want to grow out my hair anyhow (so no frequent cuts), and sometimes I think all you need for good skin is water and sleep anyhow.  I know I can afford that.  xo, MR

Best of the Awards Season 2015

So, awards season.  It’s here.  Wait, I mean, it’s been here and I’m just very late.  Very, very late.  How about I not waste any time and just get down to the point, which in this case would be my favorite looks of the 2015 Awards Season.  This mostly revolves around hair and makeup, but there were two irresistible dresses that I’ll get to.

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Keira Knightley, once again, proves to be my number one makeup inspiration (alongside Kristen Stewart).  I am always impressed and delighted by however subtle or dramatic, feminine or cutting edge, new or same-ole’ her makeup is.  I am never disappointed.  The look above from this season’s Golden Globes is almost exactly what I go for when I do bridal makeup, and then work forward if the bride is looking for something more specific.  It’s just a classic, beautiful look.  I spoke to KK’s makeup artist Kate Lee on Instagram (!!!), and while she credited Chanel’s Les 4 Ombres Multi-Effect Quadra in Tisse Gabrielle for Keira’s eye makeup, she let me know that you’ll want to mix in their Lumieres’ Facettes Quadra in Quadrille as well to create a more violet tone.  Luckily, I own the Tisse Gabrielle, so I’ve been playing around with mixing in some of my purplish MAC shades like Sketch for a similar look.  I’ve always said that if I were ever to have the opportunity to have a celebrity makeup artist play with my face, Kate would be my very first choice.  Every little thing she does is magic!

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Not much eye makeup.  A matte-ish, more-tangerine-than-red lip.  Shineless waves, and an asymmetrical cut.  When dissected, so much about Rosamund Pike’s look at this year’s SAG Awards was unconventional and off-ish for the red carpet, and that’s why I loved it.  No giant false eyelashes (maybe none at all?), no obvious slick of lip gloss reflecting so much light it could blind you, and a disheveled hair texture that felt different as opposed to all the perfect, 1940s Hollywood waves we typically see at these events.  Seriously, who wants Pantene commercial hair any more?!  Not me!  Pair it all with that Dior Couture gown and you’ve got a look that I would literally wear myself, from the haircut down to the shoes.

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One of the fun things about social media is you see a certain celebrity you love on the red carpet, and then they tag all of the people responsible for their look that night and you follow the tags down this rabbit hole of amazingness that enables you to discover exactly who is cutting whose hair, who is always doing whose makeup, and who is styling whose dresses.  George Northwood cuts Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s hair, Nick Barose is always Lupita’s makeup artist, and Tracy Cunningham is the hair colorist of all Hollywood everyone ever.

There are certain dream teams, however, that seem to come together for one special celebrity for every important appearance of theirs.  In this case, it’s the team of hairstylist Mara Roszak, makeup artist Rachel Goodwin, and stylist Petra Flannery that have managed to create moments of pure yes for the beautiful Emma Stone on a regular basis.  This year’s SAG Awards were no exception.  I’m apparently have a moment of affinity for Dior Couture (which is not usually the case), so it’s good to finally feel that I can relate to the fashion house which I’ve had a hard time with in the past.  I tend to leave all the Dior for Marion Cotillard, and I’ve trusted it with no one else.  However, Emma’s turn in black, sheer tuxedo-inspired Dior Couture gave me a case of the Honey Boo Boos,  and I’m giving major virtual high-fives to Emma’s dream team here.

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And let me just mention that I have never wanted to be a redhead so badly in my life.  The funny thing about this kind of “red” hair is that it’s not actually an authentic red; it’s more of a brown-bronze that’s richer, more sophisticated, and more flattering than a fiery red (which Byrdie.com has so eagerly dubbed “ronze”).  But beyond the hair color (pulled artfully back into a sleek, modern ponytail), it’s also the glossy lids, the perfect shade of red on the lips, the amazing lashes, the #flawless brows, and the unique ear cuff that make for those special details that turn a great dress on a pretty person into A) an entire look that I’d wear from head to toe and B) something that will be talked about in the fashion world for months and months to come.  Congrats guys, it’s perfect!

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And finally, we come to the one singular dress from the Golden Globes that really stole my heart and haters can SHOVE IT.  A couple things here:  A) If you wear Mary Katrantzou on the red carpet I automatically love you forever.  B) This dress reminds me of Princess Aurora’s classic silhouette, which might be one of the reasons why I love it so much.  C) That shade of mauve-ish purply pink is gorgeous.  D) Again, I’m all about the weird little details with that box clutch, the dark nails, the matching pink lips, and the shoes that don’t really match at all or make any sense.  Some have said that Kerry’s looking like “a very bold Easter basket” here, but I am almost always impressed and excited by Kerry’s uncanny red carpet choices as opposed to the same body-con piles of blah that we see all the time.  Take a risk, people!  It may not always pay off, but I will at least have a lot more fun looking at you on Instagram.

Questions?  Comments?  Bricks to throw?  Bring it!  But I’m tired now.  That’s all.  xo, MR