Behind Natasha Poonawalla’s Met Gala 2022 look

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Celebrity stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania on Natasha Poonawalla’s gold statement at fashion’s biggest night out in New York

Celebrity stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania on Natasha Poonawalla’s gold statement at fashion’s biggest night out in New York

TextEditorBleached eyebrows, baseball caps and Kim Kardashian in Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “Happy Birthday, Mr President” dress at the Met Gala 2022 dominated our social media feeds on Tuesday morning. Then came a picture of Natasha Poonawalla in a gold Schiaparelli bustier and the Indian media took over.

While earlier editions of the annual fundraising benefit have seen actors Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone in glamorous attendance, Poonawalla was India’s sole representative this time around. Executive director of the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, Poonawalla’s style has been documented for years now. But unlike her earlier Met outing in 2019, when she paired a crystal-embellished Dundas with a maang tikka, she had dialled up the East-West aesthetic with two globally-acclaimed couturiers — Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Schiaparelli. Also, she gave the Met Ball its first sari.

Natasha Poonawalla arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
| Photo Credit: AFP

Full metal bustier

“Someone like Natasha is so fashion-informed and fashion-forward. She thinks of fashion as an art form,” begins Anaita Shroff Adajania, former fashion director at Vogue India and Poonawalla’s stylist for the event.

Back in January, at Schiaparelli’s spring 2022 couture show at the Petit Palais in Paris, creative director Daniel Roseberry had sent his models down the runway in orbital dresses and planetary bags. Poonawalla was in the audience and the metal bustiers (it is supposedly cast on the client’s body in-house) caught her eye. That hand-forged ‘corset’ became the starting point of her conversation with Adajania for the Met Gala.

Anaita Shroff Adajania

Anaita Shroff Adajania
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“We thought of many ideas: should it be a sari or a big dress? She wanted to bring it back to India and you know I am obsessed with the sari. So we basically worked on options and colour palettes. I knew she had to look like a gold vision, from head to toe, otherworldly, a fantastical yet contemporary golden goddess,” says Adajania, speaking from New York, a day after the event.

With the theme being In America: An Anthology of Fashion, the Gilded Age the celebrity stylist wanted to “focus on the waist as a curtsy to the corsetry of the time”.

Backing the drape

Team Natasha, Anaita and Sabya put their spin on the ‘gilded glamour’ dress code

Team Natasha, Anaita and Sabya put their spin on the ‘gilded glamour’ dress code
| Photo Credit: Greg Swales

Then came Sabyasachi, with whom Adajania has worked extensively. “I want to make it clear that what Natasha has worn is a sari and it is draped like a sari. It is not a gown. Because all of us, Sabya, Natasha and me, we are very partial to the sari,” insists the Mumbai-based mother of two who has styled Kim Kardashian and Gisele Bündchen in saris in the past. She says she chose a lehenga sari for “the drama at the bottom and a fluted, floating quality”. A separate, sheer trail was attached under the bustier.

On his official Instagram page, Sabyasachi has described the gold tulle sari as “embroidered with silk floss thread and embellished with bevel beads, semi-precious stones, crystals, sequins and appliquéd printed velvet”.

Sabyasachi’s jewellery game

“As a stylist I believe in excessiveness. Especially for the Met Gala, which celebrates costume. So we really went all out with the jewellery. Sabya custom-made these amazingly exaggerated big earrings, the headband, and we literally loaded her arms with precious jewellery and tiny turquoise beads, almost giving it a slightly sophisticated bohemian edge,” says Adajania

But it is the gold bustier that caught our imagination. The laced-up sides made it easy to get into, insists Adajania. It helps that the twirls and the ring are attachments. “It is handmade and an ode to the artistry of sculpture and metalwork of the past,” she adds. “There is a little indent too, the ‘belly button’, my favourite part.”

The Met Gala is a fundraising benefit for Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in NYC. The Costume Institute is hosting a two-part exhibition, and the second part, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, is from May 5 to September 5, 2022.


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