In the space of just a few years, Amal Clooney has established herself as a force to be reckoned with on the red carpet.
From Versace pastels at Cannes to those Giambattista Valli mini dresses, the human-rights barrister perfectly blends bold and eye-catching with elegance and class through her wardrobe choices.
This is most probably how she found herself as co-host of the biggest night in fashion in New York on Monday, along with undisputed Met Gala alumni Rihanna and Donatella Versace.
The theme of this year’s gala was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Not only did Clooney deliver on the theme, she also managed to put her own unique spin on her outfit, which was the work of London-based designer Richard Quinn. The lawyer was one of the few women at the celebrity-filled event to wear trousers on the red carpet.
“The overall look was a hybrid and [the idea] was to give it a model edge as well as tie in with the theme,” Quinn told Harpers Bazaar the day after the gala. “Her decision to wear trousers was her way of depicting female empowerment and modern religion by referencing the stringent oppression that women faced.”
Clooney is, of course, a prominent activist for gender equality. She has regularly incorporated this into her work as a lawyer, including representing Yazidi women who were captured as slaves for sex by Isis. In 2016, a speech she gave urging “everyday acts of feminism” went viral.
Quinn – who earlier this year was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design by the Queen herself at London Fashion Week – told us he first had a request asking to send some dress ideas over to Clooney just a few weeks ago.
“I spoke to Amal on the phone – she was so sweet and intelligent, I instantly knew we would love to make her a bespoke outfit,” he explained. “Amal is so down-to-earth, so after sending a few ideas back and forth she came to the studio in Peckham and tried a few things on. It was a great dialogue and ideas went back and forth in the fittings until we came to what you have seen.”
Clooney appeared on the arm of her actor husband George and immediately turned heads in the bustier-style creation, which featured a long floral-print train (designed to mimic the effect of a church stained-glass window), worn with chic cigarette trousers. For an outfit with so much detail, it might come as a surprise to find that the look was completed within a couple of weeks after the initial fittings.
The team, who worked on the dress from Quinn’s studio in south east London, wanted to pay homage to the theme without it being “too overbearing or literal”. It was Clooney’s idea to include roses and lilies on the print because of their religious iconography.
“We wanted the print to subtly reference religion, so we used heavy brush marks to mimic the look of a stained-glass window on a beautifully detailed print which was applied to the foil using an Epson digital printer,” he said. “Amal really liked the foil. She has such great style and we really wanted to push it to something unexpected from past red-carpet looks without losing her strong sense of style and presence.”
Quinn described the process as “organic and fun” and revealed how his entire team loved having Clooney visit the studio.
“When someone is so relatable, the design process becomes very organic and fun. Amal is a delight and such a sweet and down-to-earth person.”
Like Clooney’s, many of the designs witnessed on the red carpet at the Met Gala had impressively long trains – which became something of a trend for the evening. Perhaps to be expected given the often grandiose interpretations of the theme. Quinn says the extravagant silhouette is also appropriate given the venue, which “lends itself so well to a dramatic entrance – the steps are a beautiful way to elevate and show off the train”.
Combining the sweeping skirt with the trousers had practical benefits, too. “We really wanted to have the grandeur which is so apt for the venue without restricting her. She needed to wear the gown without feeling held back,” he added.
As with designing for any prestigious red-carpet event, last-minute tweaks and changes are often a part of the process. Quinn and Clooney’s collaboration was no exception.
“We did a last-minute tweak to the print to make it even more theme -appropriate with the stained-glass effect,” he said. “But throughout, it was a very calm and easy process.”
Clooney sounds like the perfect Met Gala client to us.
This post originally appeared on harpersbazaar