WWD photographer Steve Eichner sees it all and shares his unique perspective from the Costume Institute’s annual gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, from the red carpet to the after party at The Standard.
2:44 p.m.: Getting dressed in my best interpretation of “white tie and decorations”: $1,900 Donna Karan tux with tails I got at Super Saturday 15 years ago for $10; a white piqué shirt from Café Bleu my friend gave me as a gift; a white $20 bow tie from Men’s Wearhouse, and a pair of patent leather shoes that have seen about 15 Met galas before this.
4:51 p.m.: On the red carpet, hundreds of photographers vying for a good position. I’m in no rush. I’m one of the lucky few with inside access.
4:59 p.m.: I feel as if there is gum stuck to my shoe. I look down to examine and discover that the sole of my shoe is slightly separated from the upper. I’ll have to tread lightly.
5:03 p.m.: There is a great catering spread in the press room, as usual. I always treat it like the great spaghetti dinner the night before the New York Marathon. This is a marathon of sorts. My Super Bowl and Oscars all wrapped up in one.
6:04 p.m.: Going up the elevator to take my position at the receiving line. Ka clump, ka clump, ka clump. The sound of my broken shoe as I gallop across the marble floors of the galleries. Uh-oh. It’s getting worse.
6:06 p.m.: Nice background this year in the gallery with ancient nude statues all around, the type with the you-know-whats cut off. Photographer Billy Farrell is trying to pose Anna Wintour, “We can’t have you with those things.” “Good call,” she laughs, which allows everyone else a good chuckle.
6:28 p.m.: Aerin Lauder opens Bradley Cooper’s jacket to inspect his white tie. Suki Waterhouse, Bradley’s girlfriend, arrives. I’m busy fiddling with my iPhone making voice notes and miss the shot of them kissing hello. I do get a few of them together though.
6:37 p.m.: Random word of a streaker and pigeons on the red carpet.
6:47 p.m.: As she approaches the receiving line, Sarah Jessica Parker is stopped short by Andy Cohen’s foot on her train.
7:08 p.m.: “This is our first,” the Public School guys say. I say, “You always remember your first.”
7:32 p.m.: Rita Ora looking superhot. My choice for page one.
7:33 p.m.: “I’m a newcomer,” Mario Testino kids as he snaps his way in.
7:58 p.m.: “With two hot men,” I say as I pop Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady with the nude statue’s torso behind them.
8:01 p.m.: My vote for best dressed man, Johnny Depp. And best swagger.
8:03 p.m.: My footwear malfunction is getting worse.
8:05 p.m.: Donna and Calvin arm in arm. I gotta get him.“Wow tails,” Donna says as she beelines over to me. “Yeah, it’s actually one of yours,” I say. “Got it at Super Saturday.”
8:07 p.m.: “Lets get one with your girlfriend,” I say to Leonard Lauder and Carolyn Murphy.
8:10 p.m.: “I want you alone,” I say to Amanda Peet. “I want you alone too,” she shoots back.
8:17 p.m.: Sweet Met ball moment. SJP crouches down, takes a break from receiving to drink some water. Her huge gown puddles around her. Perfect.
8:19 p.m.: Photog to Emma Stone, “Let’s see a little leg.” “OK. But not all of it,” she sasses back.
8:24 p.m.: After one last try to get a photo of Bradley and SJP, I’m told by a publicist, “He’s not up for it. He’s 40 pounds overweight.” A pause. “It’s for a role.”
8:29 p.m.: Sometime I feel like this is a soulless job. Now it actually is. I decide to rip the entire sole off. Ah! Much better. I can walk now.
8:31 p.m.: Into the cocktail I go to mix it up with the celebs!
8:33 p.m.: Someone asks Taylor Swift what she’s wearing. “Shame and embarrassment,” she says with a wink.
8:35 p.m.: Kimye — that’s Kim Kardashian and Kanye West to the uninitiated — form their own receiving line at a doorway inside the exhibit. Kanye takes a sip of whiskey and hands the glass back to Zoë Kravitz.
8:36 p.m.: Uh oh. The sole of my other shoe starts to fall off.
8:37 p.m.: Sarah Silverman is screaming, “Kanye! Kanye! Kanye!” He ignores her and keeps walking.
8:38 p.m.: Olivia Munn = Olivia YUM.
8:39 p.m.: I rip off the sole of my other shoe and a metal piece from the inside clanks on the floor. My p.r. escort put it in a bag with the first one. “Do I need to keep these?” “Will you try and repair?” No!
8:43 p.m.: Bill Cunningham sees me: “White tie Steve! Looking good young fella.”
8:50 p.m.: Cocktails are done and so is my access. Another Met ball in the can. Well sorta. Now it’s off to the after party.
10:34 p.m.: The Standard’s Joey Jalleo kisses me and wisks me up to my magical mistress, Boom Boom.
10:52 p.m.: Setting up my gear I realize that I lost my off-camera flash cord somewhere at the Met. It’s a more interesting way to shoot I think. Damn. Now my pics will have a bit less flair. Oh well, I’ll make the best of it.
10:55 p.m.: I’m handed the tip sheet. Insane crowd.
11:04 p.m.: “Michelle [Obama] kept it real,” says Rachel Roy looking gorgeous in her regal gold headband about this morning’s ribbon cutting at the Anna Wintour Costume Center. “She even talked about the difficult fashion business, which I really appreciated.”
11:15 p.m.: “It’s not open bar. How tacky,” snips someone. I agree I ain’t paying $20 for a beer.
11:26 p.m.: Trippy pic of Lupita.
11:28 p.m.: Beyoncé and Jay Z arrive to a lightning storm of flashes.
11:34 p.m.: “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis plays as Daphne Guinness poses like a weirdo.
11:49 p.m.: So cute. Jessica Alba smiling and chewing gum.
12:14 a.m.: “Oh, I’m so jealous,” Rashida Jones says to Sarah Silverman because Sarah changed.
12:18 a.m.: Of all people to shy away from photos, really Kristen Wiig?
12:29 a.m.: Gotta find Anne Hathaway.
12:37 a.m.: I’m hanging with Gilles Mendel. Just as Beyoncé and Jay Z are leaving I try to take a shot and she puts her hand in my lens. OK! Then Bradley Cooper enters and hides behind his GF to avoid my camera. What is going on here?
12:39 a.m.: Stink eye from Bradley Cooper as I approach to capture him getting his groove on.
12:42 a.m.: I am informed Kristen Stewart is here. I spot her by the bar. Nice, new hair color. Pinkish I think. Move in closer to get a few candids and she spots me and flips me the bird. Snap! snap! I just shrug, smile and she smiles, too, and puts her hand up. High five.
12:49 a.m.: “I’m not taking your picture,” I scream into Leo DiCaprio’s ear. Taken aback he smiles, pats me on the back and says, “Cool.”
12:50 a.m.: “Get a pic of DiCaprio and Naomi Campbell,” I’m told. Hmmm, well, sorry Leo. Flash! Flash!
12:53 a.m.: I blast Sean Penn and Charlize Theron as they breeze in. Gilles is witnessing the entire thing. “It’s like a video game,” I say.
12:54 a.m.: Nailed it! Candid shot of Anne Hathaway and Diane Kruger on the sofa in their red dresses.
1:26 a.m.: I get Eddie Borgo to look through the round window of one of the doors.
1:28 a.m.: “Thanks a million,” or at least $20, I tell the friend who brings me a free beer.
1:34 a.m.: “We’re done!” my editor says as he exits the party. Well, I was. He was off to an after, after party.
1:43 a.m.: One more loop around the party. Great dancing shots. Really interesting photograph of some girls in the red light in the stairwell. Then up to the rooftop: Freedom Tower and what’s cool is the Empire State Building is reflected in the glass. That’s it. Last image of the Met gala. Swig my beer. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.