Gwendoline Christie Knows Her Met Gala History
A few months ago, in conversation with the punk performance artist Christeene in this very magazine, Gwendoline Christie explained how fashion has provided her with safe haven. “I believe it’s about offering up something else, an alternative to what a more limited human experience might be,” said the towering and eternally stylish Game of Thrones star. “I felt celebrated just for being a freak.” Last night, Christie got the chance to let her freak flag fly at her very first Met Gala, which she attended with longtime friend and Fendi artistic director Kim Jones, who she first met when the designer was a student at St. Martins. Before making her way to the lofty steps of the Costume Institute, Christie took five with Interview to talk about Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy, her ongoing relationship with Fendi, and her favorite looks from Mer Galas past.
JAKE NEVINS: Hey there, how are you?
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE: Hello! I’m very well. How are you?
NEVINS: I’m doing well. Happy Met Gala day!
CHRISTIE: Thank you very much. You know this is my first.
NEVINS: How does that feel?
CHRISTIE: It’s exciting but nerve-wracking. I am very excited. The main reason is that I’m going with Fendi and Kim Jones, and Kim and I have known each other since I was 19 years old. He was at St. Martins and he was on the MA design, and I was assisting a student there. I actually was his fitting model once. And we’ve known one another over the years and I’ve seen him go on this extraordinary and very well-deserved trajectory where he is now. And obviously, I’ve been reading about the Met Gala in magazines since I was young, it seemed like this sort of distant, extraordinary way-off world that was sort of intoxicating. So after all those years of peering in from the outside and admiring this extraordinary event, it means a lot to me to be going, but also to be going to celebrate Karl Lagerfeld, who was one of the greatest designers that we’ve ever had. He was a true renaissance man, an intellectual who was fascinated by art, culture, street cultures, underground subcultures, literature, music. He had such a wide spectrum of taste, but was also such a master craftsman. So I’m thrilled to be going and celebrating that.
NEVINS: Yes. And what a full-circle moment for you and Kim. You both did alright for yourselves.
CHRISTIE: You know what? It’s looking okay. Today, it’s looking pretty good. It’s actually really meaningful to me, and I know that might sound ridiculous, but through our creative lives we go on these long missions to try to accomplish something, to become better at what we do and refine our craft to make our way in the world, so it feels like a bit of a celebration. It is also a fabulous, fabulous ball. It’s almost this phantom allegorical moment, a moment in another realm just for one night, with a worthwhile cause of funding for the museum.
NEVINS: Since you’ve been watching from the outside, I imagine you might have some favorite looks from Met Galas past.
CHRISTIE: Well I might be a bit biased, but I absolutely loved when Sarah Jessica Parker went to the punk-themed Met Gala and wore that extraordinary feathered Stephen Jones headpiece with that exquisite Giles Deacon dress, who is my partner, but that fabric had been so beautifully designed and hand painted and it was just divine on her. I think she was wearing tartan Louboutin boots as well and I think she just looked really happy and fabulous, but also embracing of the theme in her own personal way. She was still very much SJP. I also adore Billy Porter at any time, but Billy Porter rising in full celebratory mode, you know? Billy Porter is our gift from God, and it felt like he was being recognized and celebrated with a heavy wink and a sense of humor and a great flourish and drama. And I also loved when Chloe Sevigny went to the Met. I think she went as Joan of Arc at the stake, and I think she was wearing armor and some ropes around her and a walkman, and the look was just major. That’s the one I wish I’d come up with.
NEVINS: What can you tell me about your look tonight?
CHRISTIE: Well, I feel lucky enough to be going with Fendi and, of course, Karl Lagerfeld did beautiful work there, so I feel extremely honored to be going. What I love about Fendi is that it is a heritage brand, it is a family business. They are extraordinarily warm and generous. Sylvia Fendi and Delfina Delettrez Fendi and the wonderful Kim Jones have been so generous and kind to me. What I loved about the dress the minute I saw it in the couture show was its classicism and fluidity, but it’s also very complex as a piece. It has a lot of complex work across the back, and it’s exquisitely constructed and it just immediately brought to mind classic Roman statues, and the more surreal scenes in Fellini, and it felt like a part of a dream sequence with that delicacy and sensuality and drama. That has been a wonderful journey to go on because it’s been a sensual one, all of the senses have been engaged. It’s been my great friend and a very warm and embracing atelier, who have worked so hard to make this moment come about. Fendi have been hugely generous. They’ve allowed me to see different parts of the world, taken me to galleries and restaurants, and they make you feel like you are part of something. So I feel like tonight, I’m not just going and wearing a dress. I feel like I’m going and celebrating so many different moments and relationships, old and new, and they’ve given me new experiences in my life, and I’m hugely aware of that.
NEVINS: Well, you deserve it all, because you’re a real student of fashion and have a deep appreciation for the craft. A few more questions before I let you get ready. Is there anyone you’re particularly excited to see tonight?
CHRISTIE: I’m really excited to see Christina Ricci. Christina and I became friends on Wednesday and she is an actress I have always loved. She has an energy that’s unlike anybody else. The films that she did, like The Opposite of Sex, Buffalo 66, obviously the Adams Family and Casper, she’s entirely unique. And she’s a deeply hilarious and loving person. She just texted me! She’s just a radiant person and she’s someone I’ve always admired, so to be with her tonight is very very exciting. I don’t know who else is going. I heard a rumor about Lil Nas. That excites me, but who knows? And if it’s not true, maybe take it out of this interview. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m also super excited to see this exhibition of Karl’s work because he was truly exceptional. He worked very hard and was about discipline and craftsmanship, but also about embracing life in many different forms. And I think if we can take the spirit of his incredible legacy of work with us into our artistic practice, that will be a great thing.
NEVINS: Well-said. My last question: are you nervous about the steps?
CHRISTIE: Darling, I’m nervous about leaving the house. The steps will be the steps. If I fall, I’ll make it magnificent and dramatic and go out in an ambulance.
NEVINS: I know you will. But you’ll be in good hands with Kim.
CHRISTIE: [Laughs] Thank you. And thank you for this lovely and fun interview.
NEVINS: Have the best time.
CHRISTIE: I really will. I feel so lucky.