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With a theme like “China: Through the Looking Glass,” the probability of seeing a few styling missteps at the annual Costume Institute’s Met Gala—coming up on May 4—is fairly high. And while celebrities including Blake Lively, Sienna Miller, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian have probably already settled on their gowns for the evening, we checked in with veteran costume designer Debra McGuire, who’s currently clothing Fresh Off the Boat, an ABC sitcom about a family of Taiwanese immigrants in the 90s, for a few pointers.
“I think the only offensive thing would be to have anything representative of Mao or his regime,” says the costume designer best known for her work on Friends. “His image is used too often by the younger generation who don’t really understand what a brutal and oppressive leader he was.” That said, her advice is for attendees to “be inspired. Don’t copy. Pull vintage.” Still, it will be interesting to see how many stars we see in chopsticks, mandarin collars and winged eyeliner.
Her favorite inspiration: John Galliano’s 2007 couture collection for Christian Dior, which she says she hopes to see some of on the red carpet Monday. “This is a dream theme for any stylist,” says McGuire. “Just look at every major collection for the past 50 years and you will see an Asian influence connecting the dots!”
Her hope, she says, is that the styling is done with “good intention.” And that it references China’s rich tradition of brilliant color, embroidery, silk and craftsmanship. “I think any conscious human being can navigate this theme—there is so much beauty,” says McGuire. As for the celebrities she has the highest hopes for, those would be SJP and Julianne Moore. Says the costume designer, “Sarah Jessica Parker always rocks the moment.”
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