The wrong costume is now very, very good

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: ASAP Rocky and Rihanna attend 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion event at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean zanni

Let’s get back to that shrunken tuxedo on Rocky. Red carpet fun for men is hard – how do you polish a costume, after all? Anything new seems to disrupt the essential modernist perfection of the garment. Russell Westbrook succeeded, however, in a dusty blue Ralph Lauren tuxedo and matching sapphires, as well as coordinating hair. But a few other men did something fantastic with their tailored proportions: Gone was the skinny suit that was the red carpet standard, and in its place was … your worst rental tuxedo. One of those looks is courtesy of Balenciaga, who dressed Elliott Page in a costume from Demna Gvasalia’s first fashion show last July, and another came from Justin Bieber, who wore his brand Maison Drew. Page had an eyelet in the lapel of his slightly oversized jacket, a nod to Oscar Wilde as a queer icon who also sparked sweet musings on the great American ball, and Bieber’s pants were too big while his jacket was too small.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Elliot Page attends 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean zanni
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Justin Bieber attends 2021 Costume Institute Benefit – In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Sean Zanni / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Sean zanni

These costumes were perfect for several reasons. First of all, every American guy has been there in one way or another – the costume is actually America’s fashion nightmare because it embodies all the pain and pleasure of masculinity, in the sense that ‘It is so difficult (but so rewarding!) to find one that is reasonably priced and fits well. Rocky’s better-fitting but still oddly fitted costume was also nice: his sleeve was short to show off a chunky ruffled cuff just, and the quilt was a nod to his comfy boyish demeanor. It also paired perfectly with Rihanna’s couture Balenciaga cape, and the image of them together suggested that America’s sexiest couple had managed to get out of bed to attend this gala. What makes this experimental couture transcend the mere gadget – the kind of fashion victim thing enemies love to hate – is that it’s actually intricate bespoke clothing designed to artfully echo the vernacular fashion. Apologies to Savile Row, but it’s much harder to make a costume not fit just the right way than a perfect fit.

Between Kardashian, Bieber and Isabelle Huppert, Balenciaga ruled the night – no brand has a smarter understanding of the art of performance than contemporary celebrity. And everyone wearing Thom Browne seemed to be having fun as well, which is one of the things we often forget about fashion. Pete Davidson smiling in his dress, Evan Mock wearing a gimp mask and Lil Uzi punk in his skirt: style is comfort, but fashion is fun.


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