Fashionable minds went into overdrive last October when the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that Monday night’s Costume Institute gala would honor legendary Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo, known for out-there pieces including sweaters full of holes, dresses without sleeves, coats with lumpy appendages — in other words clothing that’s more suited to a museum than your closet.

Kawakubo is only the second living designer to be highlighted in the annual exhibit (the first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983). A somewhat reclusive spirit who’s never before attended the gala, Kawakubo was a disappointing no-show on the white carpet.

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Guests were encouraged to think avant-garde. Katy Perry got the memo, arriving early in a showstopping ensemble by John Galliano for Maison Margiela — an over-the-top outfit of red wool coat and gown, trailing a long veil attached to a chrome head piece. Claire Danes pushed the envelope some, wearing a pirate-like blouse over black pants by Monse. And then there was Jaden Smith, who arrived carrying locks of his own hair, which his father Will apparently cut off last month for a movie role.

But most simply paid no attention to the theme, with many a Twitter post grousing that it was all too boring. Until, that is, Rihanna showed up, dressed to kill for the night in a multicolored architectural gown by — who else? — Rei Kawakubo.