The Art of Avoiding—or Embracing—an Ex at the Met Gala

Every year, people who used to date converge at the A-list-packed benefit—here's how Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Jennifer Lopez and more dealt with the potential awkwardness

By Natalie Finn May 08, 2018 8:19 PMTags
Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield, Amber Heard, Elon Musk, 2018 Met Gala ExesShutterstock; Getty Images

The Met Gala is a study in poise.

Celebrities teetering on spindle-thin heels have to cross what must feel like an interminably long red carpet as flashes are flickering away and reporters are simultaneously shouting for a second of their time, often while trying to stay out of the way of a 12-foot train (either theirs or someone else's) and not be poked in the eye by an intense piece of headgear. And that's before they've even reached the stairs, the balance beam of posing apparatuses. 

But alas, the entrance gauntlet isn't the only moment that will call for composure, grace under pressure, a steely smile and cat-like reflexes.

2018 Met Gala Red Carpet Fashion

As is so often the case when a guest list is this massive (while still, somehow, being exclusive), more often than not you're going to run into people you know, and perhaps even a person or two that you've dated.

And since this isn't your BFF's housewarming party and she'll totally understand if you don't want to go because her husband's best friend is your ex-boyfriend and he's going to be there (though screw them for not disinviting him), you're just going to have to suck it up and be prepared to be annoyed. Or're a little excited or intrigued to see your ex, no matter how serious or not you two ever were, in the flesh.

Happily, this isn't to be confused with an accidental run-in at CVS. This is the Met Gala, so chances are you're going to look absolutely fabulous. Which as we all know is really more important than anything else in the moment, including whether or not you've brought a date or are in a relationship yourself.

Or you're Madonna, who for the last two years has seen Alex Rodriguez at these things with Jennifer Lopez and in all likelihood couldn't care less. Last year, in fact, two ghosts of A-Rod's past were in the house, Madonna and Kate Hudson, the latter of whom is currently expecting her third child and skipped the shindig last night.

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J.Lo doesn't appear to have interacted with her old boyfriend Sean "Diddy" Combs, also a Met Gala regular who dated Lopez close to 20 years ago. They've obviously crossed paths many times over the years in the music world and greater Hollywood continuum and their feelings have long since evolved into mutual respect. 

That certainly helps when it comes to any potential awkwardness when the current significant other is in the presence of the long-ago S.O. Not to mention, Diddy is a die-hard Yankees fan, and he has deemed Rodriguez "a great guy." However, Diddy also admitted on The Breakfast Club in 2016 that his longtime girlfriend Cassie, with him as usual last night, "had some questions" after his reunion with J.Lo at the 2015 American Music Awards made some headlines.

"People gonna grow, and, you know, any of my exes, they smile, and they're happy to see me, you know what I'm saying? And that's all that was about," Diddy said back then. "And, you know, I answered the question."

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Proving that all is water under the bridge, meanwhile, were Kate Bosworth (married to filmmaker Michael Polish for almost five years now) and Alexander Skarsgård, who once upon a time were a super-hot It Couple and last night were inclined to pose for an icy-cool photo together. 

The reunion angst may be a little more palpable for the youngsters in the group, as well as those who had far more recent relationships that may or may not have included date night at the Met Gala. 

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield broke up in 2015 after almost four years of dating, which would be a major re-set on the stopwatch of life for anybody. And there they both were at the Met Gala, which they attended together in 2014, last night—both solo.

2018 Met Gala: Red Carpet Couples

Though they were spotted amiably chatting at the Governors Awards in November, there's no word of the Oscar winner, stunning in Louis Vuitton, and her Tony-nominated ex, who won raves for his smart cranberry-colored velvet tuxedo jacket, hanging out at the ball or one of the myriad after-parties.

"I'm nothing but supportive and her biggest fan," Garfield told E! News last fall, when asked if he'd yet seen Stone's much buzzed about turn as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes (he hadn't). 

People are more loath to ask Stone about Garfield because she almost always shuts that line of conversation down, but she admitted to Vogue in 2016, "He's still someone I love very much."

2018 Met Gala: Red Carpet vs. After-Party Looks

At least Anna Wintour and those she's tasked with the oh-so-important job of making the seating chart know better than to put hard feelings at the same table.

Also, a VIP Met Gala attendee can easily find out ahead of time who, exactly, is expected and mentally prepare accordingly—but then along comes the occasional wild card to rattle the red carpet.

Amber Heard was in attendance Monday, on fire in red Carolina Herrera, usually a conversation-starter herself. But it was her ex-boyfriend Elon Musk who dominated the chatter by showing up with music artist Grimes. Just hours beforehand, Page Six had reported that they were "quietly dating" and planned to attend the Met Gala together.

There's no such thing as "quietly dating" anymore after you've done date night at the Met Gala, so perhaps Musk intended to make a statement without saying a word. He and Heard didn't visibly connect at any point during the night, perhaps the natural progression of things after, as Musk said in November, "she broke up with me more than I broke up with her, I think."

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Then there were the potential reunions that fall outside the box of mere exes, though they could prove just as dicey if either unwelcome or handled weirdly.

Bella Hadid cordially greeted her former stepfather of four years, David Foster when they spied each other on those darned stairs outside the ball—though neither she nor sister Gigi Hadid seemed to have anything to do with Foster's girlfriend, Katharine McPhee. Foster and Yolanda Hadid separated in 2015 and the 16-time Grammy winner was making his red carpet debut with McPhee.

Also steering clear of each other: the accidentally color-coordinated first and second Mrs. Ryan Reynolds.

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Scarlett Johansson, who famously made no red carpet appearances with Reynolds while they were married, made it Met Gala-official with boyfriend Colin Jost last night, while Blake Lively and her decadent train (which needed its own party bus to get to the gala) made a night of it on her own.

And Lively, who's attended a couple of times with Reynolds in the past, needed no date to dominate social media—according to analytics compiled by Talkwalker, Lively was the most mentioned celebrity of the whole night with 180,900 mentions.

Overall, it was a decidedly undramatic Met Gala this year, with the people who chose to attend having no issue either with anyone there or the party itself. Even Lena Dunham, who's been hyper-critical of the pomp and circumstance in the past. 

Beyoncé was noticeably absent, off on a post-Coachella getaway with Jay-Z, thereby excising one of the most consistently intriguing story lines of every Met Gala for the past several years. 

Even the night's "Heavenly Bodies" theme with all the religious imagery that implies failed to get anyone's blood boiling. Perhaps inspired by all the crosses and vestments, celebs vowed to be on their best behavior—minus those naughty stars who live to break the no-selfie rule.

But ultimately, the Met Gala is a night for everyone to wear their big-girl (and -boy) pants, to show that one can't be fazed by the prospect—or the reality—of running into an ex. Wearing millions of dollars' worth of diamonds and haute couture certainly helps. Fashion isn't compared to armor for nothing.