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The Met Ball's frock stars

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It's known as the Oscars of the fashion industry but even by such elevated standards Monday night's Costume Institute gala dinner and ball at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was a flamboyant affair. Given that the event marked the opening of the blockbuster exhibition "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" this was perhaps only to be expected. Both designers count rule breaking as among their signatures, after all, and this was no place for a wallflower.

That is perhaps why Marc Jacobs arrived resplendent in long, black lace Comme des Garçons shirtwaister, his white boxer shorts on display for all to see. Few men wear a dress as well as MJ. It also explains the thinking behind Anna Wintour's lobster dress – not the Schiaparelli original, which she worked on with Salvador Dali, but a Prada re-invention made for her by the great contemporary fashion name especially for the occasion. Miuccia Prada herself, meanwhile, bucked every trend in the book, including her own, by wearing trousers. How modern is that?

Talking of Anna Wintour – who co-chairs the event each year– the US Vogue editor apparently decreed that her team wear pink to the party, famously Schiaparelli's preferred shade. Leaving nothing to chance she went so far as to demand they provide her with pictures of themselves in their chosen outfit. That's not stressful at all.

Thankfully, it all worked out well in the end with the great and good united in pushing the boat out to showcase fashion at its most unashamedly celebratory and playful. Hollywood's bright young things in particular stole the show, proving there may be more to the red carpet than a strapless, corsetted, fishtail gown.

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