Lauren Sanchez Plays Grande Dame in Oscar de la Renta

Met Gala dressing has become such a competitive game of meme-baiting viral one-upmanship that sometimes the most shocking thing a guest can do is opt for restraint. Witness Lauren Sánchez, fiancée of Jeff Bezos, helicopter pilot, children’s author and famously bodilicious dresser, whose decision to forgo her signature haute showgirl shtick for a more elegant Oscar de la Renta ball gown was a statement in itself.

To all those haters who sniffed at the cleavage-baring Rosario crimson chiffon dress with a sheer corset that she wore to the White House state dinner, or the blood-red Lever dress with a peekaboo skirt that she wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party, or even the cropped white tank top and clinging sheaths she wore in her eyebrow-raising December Vogue profile, check this!

“Elevated” was the word used by Fernando Garcia, a creative director of Oscar de la Renta, who designed the dress with Laura Kim. Also “polished.”

The strapless black velvet gown with a bell-shaped skirt covered in a rose mosaic of 2,000 hand-painted white plexiglass shards turned Ms. Sánchez into the human equivalent of an antique Tiffany lamp. The primary focus was on the waist rather than the bosom; the vibe, more Astor or Vanderbilt than Mae West; the choice of designer, strategic.

“You come to us, you expect a certain aesthetic,” Mr. Garcia said.

With its florals and its Art Nouveau ethos, the frock nodded to the evening’s dress code, “The Garden of Time.” It was a pretty sure bet to get the approval of Anna Wintour, who was very close to Mr. de la Renta before his death in 2014 and who herself wore Oscar de la Renta to the Met Gala in 2021. It was a bit of boosterism for Mr. Bezos and his business, since Oscar de la Renta is one of the rare high-fashion brands that sells its ready-to-wear on Amazon.

And, perhaps, it was a covert sign of positioning to come. After all, the other people who have favored de la Renta for major public events include almost every first lady since Jackie Kennedy.

The point being, Ms. Sánchez can do society grande dame with the best of them — at least when she wants to. She just often decides otherwise.

“She’s proud of being hot, and I could feel it when she walks into the room,” Mr. Garcia said. “But she doesn’t come across like somebody who isn’t buying her seat on a table.” Her body, her choice.

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