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Diane Kruger’s Prabal Gurung look in 2018 is one of celebrity stylist Micaela Erlange’s favourite looks she has put together. Photo: WireImage

The Oscars of fashion: a stylist on the Met Gala, the outfits – from Prada to Versace – and what it’s like to work with stars on the red carpet

  • For months leading up to the Met Gala, stylists work hard to put together looks that will stand out on the red carpet. Micaela Erlanger is one of them
  • Erlanger opens up about attending the gala, working with designer brands such as Prada and styling stars like Lupita Nyong’o and Diane Kruger

On the first Monday in May, celebrities flock to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to attend the annual Met Gala. This year, however, the event, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will take place on September 13.

For months leading up to the event, stylists work hard behind the scenes to put together looks that will stand out on the fashion-filled red carpet. One of those stylists is Micaela Erlanger, who has been styling Met Gala looks for A-list clients since 2013.

Erlanger has opened up about attending the prestigious gala, working with designer brands and styling stars like Lupita Nyong’o.

Erlanger first worked the Met Gala in 2013 when styling actress Michelle Dockery and went on to style Nyong’o the following year. She’s continued to style the latter actress for numerous Met Galas, as well as other stars, including Diane Kruger, Jennifer Hudson and Hayden Panettiere.
Lupita Nyong’o attends the Met Gala in Prada in 2014. Photo: FilmMagic

“The Met Gala is kind of like the Oscars of fashion,” she said. “It’s an opportunity where stylists can truly collaborate with designers to bring the Met Gala theme to life, and it’s very much a celebration of fashion as an art.”

Still, she notes that “anything goes” the night of the event, and “rules are out the window”. “It’s just sensory overload,” she said.

What it’s like to attend the Met Gala if you’re not a celebrity

According to Erlanger, initial conversations about what celebrity clients will wear often happen right after the Oscars, which is typically held in February. Later, fashion teams get more specific with a concept, direction and sketch, which Erlanger says can work “one of two ways”.

“Either a brand comes to us with ideas and sketches, or I will propose a mood board and direction to a brand with our ideas and inspiration. Then, they interpret it,” she said.

From there, Erlanger says she’s “super involved” in the styling process – up to the moment celebrities hit the red carpet.

Michelle Dockery at the Met Gala in Burberry in 2013. Photo: Getty Images

“The Met Gala is a very exclusive event and, notoriously, stylists are not allowed to attend,” she said. “So it’s a privilege and an honour when you are in fact invited to help your client on the carpet. I have had that honour a number of times.”

“It’s kind of crazy, because there are photographers on both sides of the steps and you’re getting photographed at all angles and you need to make sure the train of the dress looks perfect,” she continued. “You’re typically sandwiched between one movie star in front of you and another movie star behind you, and it’s a zoo – a very glamorous one.”

The Met Gala can become even more hectic for stylists when working with more than one celebrity on the same night. Luckily, Erlanger has come up with a solution over the years.

Micaela Erlanger at the Yves Salomon store on Madison Avenue in New York. Photo: Getty Images

“I require that they all stay in the same hotel because it’s just chaos,” she said. “It’s a lot of juggling and coordinating schedules because you want to help your clients out the door, but they’re typically leaving all around the same time.”

After putting so much work into each outfit, Erlanger says it’s “really hard to choose” any favourites. Still, she said she loves Diane Kruger’s Prabal Gurung look in 2018, and a few of Nyong’o’s looks.

“There’s a soft spot in my heart for my first time with Lupita on the Met carpet in Prada, but it’s also hard to follow up that Versace from 2019,” she said.
Nyong’o attends the Met Gala in Versace in 2019. Photo: WireImage

Of course, that could all change this year when the Met Gala returns for the first time since 2019.

“I’ll be working with Lupita again this year,” Erlanger said. “It’s the return to the red carpet. I’m so pumped.”