met gala 2016: lily-rose depp, light-up dresses, and the future of fashion

At this year's Met Gala, the technology theme was approached in every way Instagrammable. But the brightest visions of the future weren't always the ones covered in LEDs.

by Hannah Ongley
03 May 2016, 3:30am

Fashion and technology have a fascinating yet tense relationship. The Met Museum Costume Institute's new exhibition Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology explores the interplay between hand-made and machine-made through more than 150 creations spanning over century of fashion innovation. Nearly just as many looks were seen on the red carpet tonight at the Met Ball — the biggest event on the fashion calendar — to fête the opening of the new exhibit. (There were over 600 attendees last year, though obviously not all are anticipated as fervently as Beyoncé.) Guests are not encouraged but not required to dress on theme, and this year saw a particularly stark contrast between those who went balls to the wall (hello, Claire Danes in a Christmas Cinderella dress by Zac Posen) and those who opted for more subtle takes on machine-assisted sartorial jaw-drop moments. Elle Fanning kept it classic and devastatingly chic in liquid Thakoon and a sleek ponytail, and Emily Ratajkowski made another empowering argument for looking sexy in monochromatic Prabal Gurung. 

There was certainly no lack of technology on the red carpet. For the first time the event was broadcast live by E! News, and despite party host Anna Wintour's strict social media ban last year, many guests chose to debut their looks via Instagram selfies before even booking an Uber to take them to the red carpet. (Why risk dodgy angles when you can set up your own?) The technological facet of the evening was omnipresent: the party, after all, is about blurring the line between couture and celebrity, and social media is now inextricably connected to this crossover. How perfect that Beyoncé and Solange eschewed the E! route entirely by debuting their looks on their personal Instagram accounts. Beyoncé wore peachy latex and Solange gave a hat-tip to her sister in lemonade yellow. 


Other guests dressed as the new frontier of fashion simply by dressing as themselves. You can never not count on Willow and Jaden Smith to shut it down when flying solo, and together they're so ahead of the game it hurts. Tonight they were perfectly on theme even despite the fact that reading the Met Museum's exhibition notes was probably (definitely) not part of their pre-game activities. Jaden proved less can be more in fresh Louis Vuitton with white piping — no skirt necessary — while Willow chose cropped trousers as part of her head-to-toe Chanel look. Fellow teen brand ambassador (and social media It Girl) Lily-Rose Depp made her Met Gala debut in a Chanel Haute Couture gown that couldn't have been more Instagrammable if it was covered in LED lights. Voice of a generation Amandla Stenberg looked resplendent in a raspberry Calvin Klein suit and a metal headband in her perfect afro. Lupita's natural hair interpreted the futurism vibe in a slightly less subtle way but an equally awesome one. 

Perhaps the most optimistic approach to the theme was by Emma Watson, who wore a custom black-and-white Calvin Klein gown made from Newlife fabric — aka recycled plastic bottles. That's a vision of the future we can definitely get behind. 



Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Larry Busacca / Getty Staff

Willow Smith
fashion technology
Jaden Smith
Met Gala
fashion tech
Lily-Rose Depp
met gala 2016
met gala red carpet
manus x machina
manus x machina: fashion in the age of technology