NEW YORK - Old-style glamour - especially in black and white - ruled the night as stars of Hollywood and the fashion world converged on the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday evening for the annual Costume Institute gala, the biggest event on the New York fashion calendar.

This year, the glamour quotient was raised a notch: Whereas last year's theme was punk, this time women focused on flowing gowns, and men were asked to dress in white tie.

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The white-tie request was in keeping with this year's Costume Institute exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday: "Charles James: Beyond Fashion." James, who died in 1978, was a mid-20th century designer who specialized in spectacular, sculptured gowns made with intricate draping techniques.

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker zeroed right in on the theme of James-like glamour, wearing a sumptuous Oscar de la Renta ball gown with a black bodice and flowing white skirt, with a gridlike pattern on the back. In a dramatic flourish, the back hem of the skirt was emblazoned with the designer's name.

Parker's outfit seemed to be a surefire hit. Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o seemed to divide fans: Her short shift covered by a beaded and feathered overlay in bright green had a matching headband. It looked vaguely flapper-inspired, perhaps a tribute to James' early years.

Giving off a different vibe was comedian Sarah Silverman in a deep maroon-red Zac Posen gown, evoking a famous Cecil Beaton photo of James' outfits, and also the folds of his "Umbrella" gown.

Actress Idina Menzel evoked her recent success voicing the movie Frozen with an icy all-white concoction with a feathery train by Donna Karan Atelier. And Blake Lively earned praise for her star-of-classic-movies look in a blush Gucci gown with, yes, a dramatic train.

There were, though, pronounced bursts of bright color: Actress Emmy Rossum wore a Carolina Herrera gown in yellow and purple. Allison Williams of HBO's Girls wore an orange de la Renta gown. Actress Emma Stone had a midriff-baring purple top and long red skirt by designer Thakoon.