WASHINGTON • If social media is any judge, pop star Rihanna won.
Her victory was on the red carpet for Monday evening's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit.
In celebration of the exhibit, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion And The Catholic Imagination, she arrived wearing a Maison Margiela silver embroidered and spangled ensemble with a matching hat.
Her ensemble was a technical and creative wonder. Did she look stunning? Not exactly. She looked outlandish, which has become the raison d'etre of the Met Gala red carpet. One must break the Internet, trend on social media and leave tongues wagging.
This year, the gala brought forth rapper Cardi B, who arrived in pearls, trailing satin and wearing a Madonna-esque headpiece.
Nicki Minaj was dressed as a haute couture devil in red Oscar de la Renta, while Katy Perry was in Versace with a 1.8m wing span.
The point is how fabulously mad a guest can go and still exude cool rather than self-consciousness. And so, yes, Rihanna won.
That is not the same thing as looking great. There was a notable contingent of actors and musicians who honoured the theme of the evening - Catholicism and fashion - but also managed to strike a memorable image. Their ensembles were not run-of-the-mill, but they did not look bonkers.
Among them, musician Janelle Monae, in her black-and-white Marc Jacobs skirt and jacket with a crystal balaclava and a gold-lined hat; singer Jennifer Lopez, dressed in Balmain and exuding the usual Lopez smoldering sex appeal; and singer Zendaya, dressed by Atelier Versace to conjure up Joan of Arc as a superhero.
But over-the-top is where the bar was set long ago by the likes of pop superstar Beyonce. In 2015, she showed up naked except for some well-placed crystals by Givenchy.
The regular folk who attend the gala - millionaires, billionaires, corporate titans, political powerhouses and sports stars - cannot compete. They may have the money to buy these clothes, but they do not have the chutzpah to wear them.