‘I have a team of about 10 who help me’

Wendy Yu, Investor and Philanthropist, attends Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 (Getty)

Tonight, the world’s most famous faces will walk the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala.

Hosted at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the most important night in fashion has returned to it’s pre-pandemic schedule by taking place on the first Monday of May (2 May).

From fashion designers to artists and models to musicians, the Gala hosts global A-listers who come together to celebrate a themed night of art, fashion and notoriety while raising money for the museum’s Costume Institute.

Wendy Yu – an heiress, philanthropist and founder and chief executive of Hong Kong-based investment business, Yu Holdings – has not only attended as a guest, but is on the committee for the event and has co-hosted alongside the likes of Blake Lively and Lupita Nyong’o.

In 2018, museum curator Andrew Bolton was endowed and named Wendy Yu curator in charge of The Costume Institute at the museum. “I enjoy seeing Andrew Bolton’s and Anna Wintour’s work being celebrated by the most important designers, industry leaders and celebrities,” Yu says of the night.

As a contributor to Vogueand a patron of London’s Victoria and Albert museum and an influencer with more than 370,000 Instagram followers, Yu knows all too well the influence of the Met Gala in global art, fashion and business.

We caught up with the entrepreneur in 2019 to find out everything she knows about what it’s like to attend the Met Gala.

I have a dress-rehearsal to practice walking in my dress

“I usually prepare for the gala three hours before the event, having done a full dress rehearsal the night before so that I can capture some great photos without feeling pressurised.

“During fittings, I’ll practice walking up and sitting in my outfit because it’s so important to get a feeling for the dress stairs so that you can wear it, and not the other way around. I tend to wear comfortable shoes to help me feel confident walking.

“I have a team of about 10 who help me get ready, from hairstylists to make-up artists. We have all worked together on many occasions before, so it’s like having my extended family around, which means it never feels stressful.”

“My favorite Met Gala dress was made by Oscar de la Renta.

“So far, I have worn American designers to the Met Gala. For my first Met Gala, I wore Zac Posen. The dress was picked out by the American Vogue team at a fitting in their offices.

“Last year, I wore custom Oscar de La Renta, which is one of my favorite brands of all time and the gown fit so beautifully and it’s timeless.

“I was very much involved at the beginning stages of the design process, but then I trusted the brand’s creative directors Laura and Fernando to work their magic with my final tweaks at the end. They really understand how to flatter a woman’s body and help you look your best.”

Walking the red carpet gets easier the more you do it

“This will be my third year so I’m quite familiar now. I like to arrive early so that it is less congested and I’m able to have the time and space to have my picture taken properly.

“That said, the atmosphere is surreal. There’s so much individuality and personality around you. It’s a feast for the eyes. Anna Wintour does such an amazing job at creating a “never before, never again” sense of atmosphere.

People are more relaxed at the gala than you think

“There is a real sense of effortless fun and flamboyance, which is not always the case at big events.

“The attendees first walk through the exhibition, and then we catch up with old friends and make new ones, and watch and guess what others are wearing. There is a long walk through the museum to dinner. The seating plan is not shared with guests in advance. Sometimes there is a performance before the dinner as well as an unexpected performance afterwards.

“As for the famous Met bathroom, it tends to be a rather relaxed and informal atmosphere. Everyone is helping each other and cracking jokes.”

Planning a Met Gala outfit takes months

“I often find out about the theme quite early on through my connection with The Met so I begin to think about which designers I might like to work with and feel would be better fitting months in advance. That said, the reality is that my decision and ultimately outfit always ends up being quite a last minute affair.

“This year I worked with a wonderful stylist and dear friend, Min Rui, who is a long-term stylist for Chinese celebrities such as Fan Bing Bing and Roy Wan, and has a great taste and vision as well as understanding me perfectly. He has narrowed the choice down for me to a few fashion houses who submitted their designs, which we then reviewed and picked our favorite. It is always a difficult decision, but ultimately I would say it comes down to a mood and an instinct.

“We are working with a fashion house that I have had the pleasure of working with before for couture. They are familiar with my body and my style, so the process has been incredibly fluid.

“I’m really excited about my outfit this year, as the theme is more playful and the color palette is more vibrant, which reflects my personal style.”

The gala ends pretty early

“I have to say I’m a bit boring when it comes to the partying aspect. It ends around 10pm and by that point I feel exhausted by all the excitement and am ready to go home.

“I sometimes drop by the after-party, but I’m not much of a public drinker or dancer so I tend to call it a night pretty soon after.”

Follow The Independent’s coverage on the Met Gala here.

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