Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s Gown Represents Two Debuts in One

There is some evidence that Da’Vine Joy Randolph manifested this.

“I’ve always wanted to go, and it has always meant so much to me,” said Ms. Randolph, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for “The Holdovers” in March.

In 2022, she was so inspired by the Met Gala’s theme, “In America,” that she had a gown custom made, despite not having any way to attend. Her lack of invitation didn’t matter; Ms. Randolph had an idea that she wanted to express. She organized a photo shoot for the gown on a Louisiana plantation.

On Monday night, she finally walked the steps, wearing another custom-made gown. This one was inspired by 1700s evening wear, except rendered totally in denim.

The sprawling ball skirt reminded her of “tentacles,” she said. It would be removed inside the museum, revealing a slightly less dramatic bell-sleeve mermaid dress underneath.

But here was the surprise twist: The nautical gown was made by Gap. Although this may not be terribly surprising once you recall that Gap hired Zac Posen in February as its new creative director. Ms. Randolph’s dress is his first public-facing project for the company.

As a designer, Mr. Posen is known for his precisely draped evening gowns. He is also a Met Gala regular, having attended for the first time in 1997, when he was still in high school and interning at the museum’s Costume Institute. (He bought a discounted staff ticket.)

“I knew for sure the fit was going to be insane,” Ms. Randolph said of working with Mr. Posen. “I knew that this dress was going to look like it was poured on my body, which is very exciting for me as a curvy girl who likes to show her body.”

Gap, of course, is famous for its denim, which Mr. Posen called a “canvas for creativity.”

During a fitting at Gap’s office in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, Mr. Posen also pointed to the orange lining of the dress, which was inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where Gap was founded in 1969 and where Mr. Posen moved about four months ago.

San Francisco gets a “bad rap,” despite being a “spectacular, special place,” said Mr. Posen, a native New Yorker. “It’s not a city that’s been over-polished and messed up by over-renovation.” The view from his new office is, he said, “the most beautiful screen saver I’ve ever seen.”

Ms. Randolph’s gown is something of a flex for Gap — a statement of confidence in Mr. Posen, as well as a bid toward more relevance in popular culture and the fashion industry. The company would like eventually to display the dress at its corporate office.

“When you create a gown, it’s like creating a brand,” said Mr. Posen, who accompanied Ms. Randolph to the museum in a tailored ivory tuxedo from Gap’s sister brand Banana Republic.

His team gave the suit new nacre shell buttons. Otherwise, it was off the rack.

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