Cover Naomi Osaka on the red carpet

Get an inside look at the tennis superstar’s dazzling Met Gala look that was inspired by her Haitian and Japanese heritage

Naomi Osaka literally stopped traffic with her Met Gala 2021 look—thanks to Louis Vuitton. Designed by Nicolas Ghesquière—the French fashion house’s artistic director of women’s—the gown was a custom corseted dress in a colourful, graphic jacquard, and came with a ruffled silk-mix cape. And paying homage to the tennis star’s Haitian and Japanese background, Ghesquière worked closely with Naomi Osaka and her sister Mari to create a gown that embraced and showcased styles and art from both cultures.

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In the mission to shake up the Met Gala gown game, Ghesquière was intent on bringing the Osaka’s sense of cultural identity and creativity to the plate with an impressive koi fish-inspired jacquard gown with an accompanying floor-length ruffled cape that made a bold statement about the tennis champion’s multicultural heritage.

“Naomi and Mari represent strong voices and values. I am honoured to have collaborated with them on this dress that marries our respective cultural and aesthetic heritage. We had a common desire throughout this process to celebrate the ideal of the America we all aspire to,” Ghesquiere said about the process of creating Osaka’s red carpet look.

Osaka’s sister Mari designed the unique print initially as a digital watercolour art piece that incorporated aesthetically-driven images of koi fish, which pays homage to their Japanese roots and appreciation for Japanese art and symbols.

Ghesquiere was thus inspired by this culturally significant print throughout the entire design process and integrated it into the design of the bustier and skirt.

The silk taffeta fabric of the structured bustier effortlessly turns into a split tulip skirt, and the folds allude to the design of a Japanese kimono. What’s more, the dress was completed with a large silk bow under the bust—inspired by another element of the kimono: the obi belt.

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The beautifully structured dress is then juxtaposed by a showstopping floor-length ruffled cape—fun fact: the 22 ruffles required 18 metres of leather satin to put together and it is finished with a 50-metre silk hem.

In total: the look required a total of 143 hours of pattern designing, cutting and placing, and took another whopping 150 hours to complete.

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As an extension of Osaka’s heritage and passion for making political and personal statements, the four-time Grand Slam winner wanted to bring a theme of diversity and cultural pride to the court of American fashion. In the process, making people like her feel proud of their multicultural backgrounds and bring different creative exchanges and perspectives to the table.

“It’s a dream come true for me that our first design collaboration is something I will wear on the Met Gala red carpet. The fact that Nicolas, Mari, and I could come together bringing this to life is something I am very honoured to be a part of,” Osaka said.

Her sister Mari also alludes the dress to the American spirit of diversity and melting pot of ideas and creativity: “The design we ended up creating speaks to our biracial heritage and in that, I believe it really celebrates who we all are and how we all play a role in the American Dream. It’s a celebration of cultures, like America itself, a melting pot of so many special and unique elements.”

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