wendy yu met gala 2018

Wendy Yu Invited Us to Her Met Gala Fitting at Oscar de la Renta

BRB—still swooning.

By: Leah Faye Cooper
Photography: Alec Kugler

If a fashion obsessive were to close their eyes and dream up a fantasy Met Gala experience, it would probably look a lot like Wendy Yu’s. The founder and CEO of Yu Holdings—a platformed designed to strengthen ties between China, where Yu is from, and the rest of the world through investments, technology, philanthropy, and the arts—Yu splits her time between Hong Kong, Shanghai, and London. Her interest in fashion led her to dedicate a sector of her business to the industry, aptly titled Yu Fashion, and her most recent power play was gifting The Metropolitan Museum of Art an endowment for the position of Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute; that role belongs to longtime Met curator Andrew Bolton. 

When you wield this much influence, you don’t just walk into a boutique and buy your Met Gala dress off the rack. You don’t even dial a stylist who can get you one straight off the runway. Instead, you have a chat with Anna Wintour, decide that you *must* wear Oscar de la Renta, then watch Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim sketch you a gown that their team will spend weeks making by hand. Of course, you’ll need to document this, so you invite Coveteur to your fitting. (Great decision!) 

Ahead, Yu walks us through the making of her custom Oscar de la Renta gown, and what goes through her head when she hits the red carpet.

On the decision to wear Oscar de la Renta:

“I had an initial meeting at the Vogue offices in New York in late March to discuss what I would wear. The Vogue team kindly pulled together an inspiration board for this year’s Met Gala theme, including looks from various different designers. I was particularly struck by some of Oscar de la Renta’s looks and have always loved the brand. Anna Wintour’s office then arranged for me to visit Fernando [Garcia] and Laura [Kim] that afternoon. We sat down together, and they sketched a few ideas and options, and it was decided very soon.”

What it was like to collaborate with the Oscar de la Renta team:

“It was very efficient. Fernando and Laura are incredibly talented and easy to work with. They understood my taste and style perfectly. We first went through all of their previous collections, and picked up on and discussed details such as silhouettes and fabrics. I wanted a gown that was one of a kind, elegant and dreamy, but also complementary to my body shape. Fernando worked on a few sketches, then we went for what we loved the most.”

Her favorite part of the dress:

“I love the fabrics and its silhouette. It’s modern, classic, elegant, and dreamy all at the same time. The Oscar de la Renta team also put my initials on the gown, which makes it very special, and they gave me the original sketches, which I collect from the different designers I work with.”

Why she decided to wear black and white:

“To me black and white is timeless and somehow nostalgic; I have always adored the styles of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, who were renowned for monochrome.”

The inspiration behind the dress:

“The inspiration came from Wendy’s references of Grace Kelly. The skirt of the dress was reinterpreted from our most recent fall runway collection.” —Laura Kim

The dress’s construction:

“The one-of-a-kind dress is constructed from black velvet with an angelic full skirt made from 5,000 hand-cut ivory organza scallops.” —Fernando Garcia

How she’s accessorizing:

“I’m wearing Anna Hu Haute Joaillerie. Anna is a very talented friend of mine who has been commissioned and worn by the likes of Madonna to the Met Gala previously. Inspired by this year’s Met Gala theme, Anna designed [some pieces for me] and hand-selected the best quality rubellite, a gemstone that has the deepest connection to both Eastern and Western royalty, emperors and empresses, who are also religious leaders in their countries. In Chinese history, Empress Dowager Cixi is known to be extremely fond of rubellite, which represents power and authority. While in Russian history, the famous Empress of Russia—the longest-ruling female leader, Catherine the Great—also owned jewels in rubellite as a token of peace offered by other countries.”

Who she goes to for fashion advice:

“Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton. They are the experts and have great taste!”

Where she gets ready for the Met Gala:

“I get ready at the Four Seasons. I love the Feng Shui there! (I’m very much into energy and the vibe of people and places.) I have a lovely makeup artist named Coco, who I always work with in New York.”

What she’s looking forward to:

“I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Andrew [Bolton’s] work at play. He is a genius, and I’m honored to support his work and to be hosting him in China later this year. This year is also particularly special as I’m on the Met Gala’s committee and have celebrated the inauguration of The Wendy Yu Curatorship at the Costume Institute.”

What goes through her mind on the red carpet:

“I meditate every day, which keeps me calm and grounded for the most part. I feel the act of walking is the same everywhere and every day, it’s just that for the red carpet you need a bigger dress! I try to enjoy it rather than feel stressed. At the end of the day, I strive to love everything I do and do everything with love.”

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