The theme of this year’s MET Gala was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, and designer Gabriela Hearst embraced the Manus aspect of the industry when creating the look worn by stunning actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. The gorgeous Cora gown from Hearst’s Fall ’16 collection features the singular message ‘love,’ written in beads down the sleeves in Morse code. Hearst invited The Window to a sneak peak on Sunday night, following her final fitting with Gugu, who came straight from an airplane to the showroom.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Gabriela Hearst on the red carpet at the 2016 MET Gala. “I like it when white dresses are very matte. This one is constructed from a beautiful Cady and fit Gugu perfectly.” – Gabriela Hearst

Despite the last-minute alterations to the dress, the Gabriela Hearst showroom was very relaxed, exuding a sense of excitement for the next day. The designer was honored to attend the MET Gala with the actress, whom she describes as “amazingly talented, smart, and gorgeous.” Gugu previously starred in Belle and has several movies coming out over the next year. The two decided to collaborate on a look for the MET Gala over two months ago, and got to know each other through Skype calls and remote fittings.

“We had Gugu’s measurement done and sent her a Muslin of the dress,” explains Gabriela of the process. “She had someone pin it before sending it back to us. The final fitting was Sunday night in person, and we really didn’t have to do anything except hem the length. Honestly, even fresh off a flight with no hair or makeup, Gugu just looked flawless.”

An up-close look at the Morse code messaging of ‘love,’ created using translucent beads embroidered onto silk georgette.

The dress is a subtle nod to the evening’s Manus x Machina theme, thanks to the hand-embroidered beads on georgette. Gabriela got the idea to do Morse code after noticing that she kept repeating a theme of lines and circles in her designs. “I started thinking about the combination of the two, and I thought of Morse code. I love the idea that it’s a form of communication. I knew I wanted to create a message in Morse code using beading, so I thought about what I wanted to say. My friend said, “Gabi, for you there’s one word: love!” It was perfect.

Gabriela and her seamstress, minutes after Gugu tried on the dress for the last fitting (her first one done in person) on Sunday evening.
“I like it when embroidery looks more abstract. We did this by using transparent beads with the threads going through the inside, so they get their color from the thread. It gives a glassy look.” – Gabriela Hearst

Gugu’s stylist, Cristina Ehrlich, has pulled Gabriela Hearst for many clients, and the pairing of the two as dates came naturally. “I think my clothes are a bit more masculine, and Gugu is very feminine, so there is a nice balance,” explains Gabriela.

Gugu paired the dress with custom Gabriela Hearst heels made in collaboration with Valentina Carrano, Fred Leighton earrings, and a gorgeous sapphire ring lent by Gabriela herself. Gabriela wore a custom Timothy Everest suit. “He’s a very cool English tailor who does all the Bond movies,” explains Gabriela of her choice. “To me, he’s the perfect crossroads between traditional tailoring and the future, which really fits the theme as well. I wore a blouse from my own collection, which added a feminine touch to the more masculine look.” The designer wore her own jewelry, as well as a pair of custom shoes designed in collaboration with Valentina Carrano. The two arrived at the event in a 1955 Mercedes, which Gabriela described as more handmade than machine-made. “I am more the Manus than the Machina. I’m about dressing the modern woman with old techniques. But the night for me is really about having fun and seeing Gugu looking so beautiful. ”



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