There was a changing of the guards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the preview of the Costume Institute's "Man and Horse" exhibition this week. "It's a different kind of a crowd . . . more money, more jewels and less flashy names," explained a museum staffer. As a result, the number of press and photographers was curbed and security was strict at the front door.

The dinner crowd was not short of glitzy names, the regulars who turn out to support the museum and Diana Vreeland, the Costume Institute's special consultant for 13 popular and influential annual shows.

Standouts in the crowd were the men in red-scarlet-pink hunting jackets, perfectly tailored in the precise color and detail to the button, as prescribed by their hunt clubs. They made the traditional tuxedos -- even the ones worn with colorful ties and jewels, as many were -- look a bit dull.

The women in the crowd were not dull. While many wore black, there were also lots of dresses in black with color, all bright color, or gold lame.

Yves Saint Laurent, whose clothes were the focus of last year's exhibition, was clearly the designer of the evening, his dresses worn by Diana Vreeland, Estee Lauder, Pamela Brown and many others. A number of the dinner guests wore gowns or gold lame separates by Oscar de la Renta.

But the post-dinner crowd -- the 2,000 that paid $125 apiece (in contrast to the dinner tab of $750) -- looked entirely different.

One dress that showed up frequently was a navy crepe style that looked like a Brooks Brothers bathrobe, but piped in gold; even the designer of that dress, Donna Karan of Anne Klein, was wearing it. The younger crowd is hot for short strapless dresses and still wears lots of black.

Only two men wore skirts, a fad with the trendies. Stephen Gan, a student at the Parsons School of Design, paired a tuxedo jacket and big black shawl with a red-and-black sarong.

"I like the twist," said Gan as he watched the fashion parade. "I like the idea of being very traditional on top, and then very unexpected on the bottom." He wears sarongs on occasion to class. "They are very comfortable, you know."