This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Before celebrities hogged all the covers, it was supermodels who sold magazines. Regardless, 2018 is still a damn good time to be a model. On the first Monday in May, their worlds collide at the Met Gala, where dozens (and dozens) of the world’s most famous faces come together in the name of fashion. Some adhere to the theme, some don’t.
But, beyond the glitz, the Met Gala is a chance for models to play muse to designers and showcase their custom creations on fashion’s biggest stage. When you’re Liu Wen, you get to do that not once, not twice, but nine times — and three times with Michael Kors. This year, we caught up with Wen for her third time as guest of the man himself. Judging by Wen’s look, we’d say the third time really is the charm.
For the past decade or so, Wen has served as one of the most famous faces worldwide for Chinese models and culture. Just as indisputably, Michael Kors has become one of the most honored and recognized figures in modern American fashion. It’s because of their work in the industry that makes this pair a match made in fashion Heaven (sorry, we’re trying to adhere to the theme) – and Wen’s look for the night is just as major. Kors revealed exclusively to Refinery29 everything that went into the strapless red gown she wore on tonight’s Met Gala carpet: 550 man hours to embroider it (using metal ribbon) and over 2,000 crystals mixed with touches of golden cut beads.
See what else Wen had to say about her friendship with Kors, highlights of past Met Galas, and what goes through a model’s head when she walks the most watched red carpet in the world.
What has changed from your first Met Gala to now? And how does going with Michael make the experience all the better?
“Time really passes so fast. In the blink of an eye, this is already my ninth year attending! Compared to my nervousness from the earlier years, I now see Met Gala as a huge reunion with many friends. It’s also a grand party that so many of us anticipate and are always surprised by! This is my third time attending with Michael, and he always prepares a really intricate, stunning look for me; this year is no exception.”
Talk to us about your friendship with Michael.
“I remember meeting Michael for the first time at one of his runway shows. Even as a newer model, I already knew that he was a very influential designer. After that time, we’ve become more and more familiar with each other through working together frequently. I discovered that Michael’s impact stems from how passionate he is about the art of design. He is attentive towards every little detail, and the perfection of detail is what establishes the success of a design. I’ve learned a lot from that kind of philosophy which he possesses.”
What goes through your head on the carpet?
“Right before I step onto the red carpet, I usually think about what the exhibition itself might look like. But once you actually enter that space, all you see are camera flashes and all you hear are the requests from photographers; that’s still always the craziest thing to witness, but these moments are pretty familiar to me now, so I treat them like I’m meeting old friends. The atmosphere ends up [being] pretty relaxed as a result.”
In terms of representing your Chinese heritage on the biggest red carpet in fashion — how do you manage that and what does it mean to you?
“To be able to do this is actually an honor that my Chinese background has given me. I just hope I can strongly convey the culture that has always been such a deep-rooted part of myself. I want to keep expressing the confidence, beauty, and enthusiasm that Chinese girls have always possessed!”
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