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Rihanna, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift Missed the Met Gala

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In the week leading up to the Met Gala, tabloids volleyed predictions about Taylor Swift’s possible attendance: She would be there with her football player boyfriend, Travis Kelce! Actually, she wouldn’t! She might go but leave Mr. Kelce at home!

On Monday night, fans finally got their answer. The party of the year would have to go on without Ms. Swift.

Other notable absences from the red carpet: Beyoncé, who had not been expected to attend, and Rihanna, who seemed poised to be the closing act of fashion’s annual parade of one-upmanship.

Last year, every other guest had walked the carpet — as had one uninvited cockroach — before Rihanna arrived at 10:15 p.m., wrapped in Valentino camellias that she said made her feel “expensive.”

Rihanna, 36, who swung from pop stardom into a prosperous second act as a lingerie and makeup mogul, told Extra TV earlier in the week that she had planned on attending the gala. People magazine reported on Monday that the singer had come down with the flu.

The singer had become one of the most hotly anticipated presences on the Met’s steps. Her turn as a miniskirted pope in 2018 touched off an internet frenzy, and the 55-pound, daffodil yellow gown she wore in 2015 helped earn its designer a slot on the haute couture schedule in Paris.

The gala’s influence as a joint advertising opportunity for brands, sponsors and celebrities depends in part on the level of star power that is willing to show up. The gala still attracted boldface names this year, including Zendaya and Jennifer Lopez, but many fans online said that the lack of Rihanna had been a blow. (Some even circulated images of the singer hitting the carpet that appeared to have been created by artificial intelligence.)

Rihanna has been a frequent presence at the gala in recent years, but Taylor Swift and Beyoncé have not attended since 2016.

Ms. Swift began attending the gala in 2008 and was a co-chair in 2016. In the past year she has not exactly been hurting for the Met’s spotlight: Her Eras Tour stimulated both economic and seismic activity on its yearlong (and counting) romp around the world, and her recent album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” overcame mixed reviews to become her 14th release to hit reach No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.

Beyoncé attended the gala seven times from 2008 to 2016, toying with silhouette in strapless Armani and mermaid-style Emilio Pucci gowns. She has lately been leading a high-fashion rodeo in wide-brimmed hats and western boots while promoting her album “Cowboy Carter.”

Even without showing up to the Met on the first Monday in May, Beyoncé wields immense power in the fashion sphere, Vanessa Friedman, the chief fashion critic of The New York Times, recently wrote: “She is practically a Met Gala unto herself.”

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