The first Monday in May is fashion’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, bringing together famous stars in a glamorous annual gala. (Hosted by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, ticket sales from the event benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute). This year’s theme — Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology — called for futuristic fashion, with top names like Madonna and Lupita Nyong’o rubbing shoulders in their edgiest apparel. As for the ball’s best dressed, that title goes to actress Claire Danes, who looked breathtaking in a one-of-a kind, glow-in-the-dark garment. Here, Zac Posen walks EW through major details about his masterpiece.
Posen set out to create a gown that highlighted “the place where technology and fantasy meet.” Made of custom fiber optic woven organza with 30 mini battery packs sewn into a thin organza lining, the result was a haute couture design that reflects his experimental approach to fashion. “We custom developed the fabrication, because I wanted to create something that had a transparency to it, but an illumination to it.” And though the major glam factor came from the light bright factor, even the smallest details — like its raw-edged hem — were considered ahead of the gown’s red carpet debut. “I think fashion has become something called fashiontainment,” reflects Posen. “And it’s our job as dreamers and creators to push that.”
That said, the pale blue, princess-style dress required 600 hours of work from Posen and his six-person team, and paid off when social media declared the dress a Cinderella moment. “It’s always great when something resonates and creates a visceral reaction,” says Posen, who has incorporated tech-inspired designs in previous collections and worked with Google’s Made with Code program.
And while Danes may have sparkled like Cinderella, she also shared the princess’ midnight curfew. (Really!) The star returned the dress to Posen’s atelier by 11:30 p.m., changing into a different frock for an after-party hosted by Naomi Campbell and Madonna. Not that Danes, husband Hugh Dancy, or Posen stayed out extraordinarily late. Shares Posen, “I dropped Hugh and Claire off and then I was in bed asleep by 2:30.”