Looking at Erykah Badu’s outfit for the Met Gala—a black suit with a dramatic overcoat, not one but two hats, and pointy, shiny stiletto boots—it’s hard to immediately see the sportswear inspiration. But look a bit more closely, and you’ll notice the football jersey mesh used in the top hat, the thumb holes in the tuxedo shirt, the hiking laces on the boots. Thom Browne pulled on his experiences as an athlete, as well as America’s love affair with sports, to create a look that was just perfectly Badu. “This particular look was inspired by Thom’s vision to put a spin on the traditional black tie, mixed with his love for sports and sport looks,” Badu says the day after the gala. “So, the materials are mixed media. The black tie aspect of it is kind of ‘futuristic after five.’ He put a lot of thought into it.”
It wouldn’t be an Erykah Badu look without a dramatic statement hat, and Browne dreamed up two. Of course, there had to be a sky-high top hat; it’s Badu’s signature. The second was a shorter top hat, covered in the mesh used for football jerseys. Browne affixed a moveable lace fencing mask to the latter. Worn up, it made the whole piece look more like a helmet. Worn down, and Badu was ready to take out an épée and yell “en garde.” The boots were also inspired by skis, with golden toes and hiking-style laces, and her suit shirt had thumb holes, like a running shirt. “The mixed genre made for a really classic look,” Badu says.
Getting ready at the Carlyle hotel, Badu got her dramatic, hot pink eye makeup done by Melanie Hunter makeup artist, and her pin-straight hair styled by Melanie Harris. Her hands were heavily adorned in golden and black jewelry pieces. One was simply a cast of her right right finger, with a gold ring. Two others went over her short, oxblood red manicure by Victoria Bah like golden acrylics, or Wolverine’s claws. “I’m not as much into fashion as I’m into personal style,” Badu says. “My jewelry and clothes are amulets and talismans. They’re my favorite things. I was honored to be mixing in my own personal thing with Thom’s vision.” As for the gala’s theme, Badu takes a similarly individualistic approach to the idea of what American fashion is. “We can be anything we want to be, or we don’t have to be anything at all,” she says. “That’s the irony of who we are.”
After posing for some photos with both hats (and Browne’s Weiner dog bag), Badu was ready to hit the red carpet with Lil Uzi Vert, and sit down inside the gala alongside Sharon Stone, Pete Davidson, Uzi, and Jimmy Fallon. See how she got ready for the night below.
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