The 2022 Met Gala’s theme surrounded the Gilded Age (1870 to 1900). Actress and fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker chose to wear a gown that paid homage to Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley — author, activist, philanthropist, and the first Black dressmaker to work in the White House.
Parker’s dress was designed by Christopher John Rogers, who went to Instagram to explain the gown’s look.
“[Parker] wears a contoured, patch-worked bodice and pleated ball skirt in shades of Black, Charcoal, Elephant and Ivory silk faille and silk moiré with [Swarovski] crystal buttons, silk moiré bows, and custom [Philip treacy] headpiece.”
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In an interview with Vogue, Rogers spoke about how the idea he was going for was to “highlight the dichotomy between the extravagant, over-the-top proportions of the time period, and the disparity that was happening in America at the time.”
When Parker and Rogers began preparing for the dress, they agreed on a particular style Keckley made for President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.
Keckley was widely known for her dressmaking skills in the 1800s (along with helping the enslaved who fleed to Washington, DC), which she used to purchase her and her son’s freedom. In 1860, Keckley started her own dressmaking business upon moving to Washington, DC. A year after that, she was introduced to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, eventually becoming Mary’s dressmaker and companion. One particular dress that many believe Keckley made Mary was made up of green and white wool plaid for the cape, black wool buttons, and a black wool braid.
Instead of the cape, Parker and Roger settled on it being a top.
“What excited me the most about dressing her is how much of a fashion love and historian she is,” Rogers said about Parker. “She’s intentional and about everything that she wears.”
In another interview with Vogue, Parker talks about important it is to “understand the assignment” when it comes to dressing for that Met Gala.
“Whenever I go to the Met, I don’t understand how everyone else didn’t both spend seven to 10 months working on it,” she said in the interview. “The assignment is the theme, and you should interpret it. It should be labor-intensive and challenging.”
The dress looks labor-intensive and challenging.