Aina was expected to attend the event in 2020, but it was eventually canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Forvr Mood founder was invited again this year and made her Met Gala debut as a guest of YouTube in a 1990s-inspired pink gown by Brooklyn-based women’s wear designer Fe Noel.
Speaking with WWD via phone, Aina said she has been a customer of Noel’s for years.
“I’m deeply inspired not only by her, but everything that she creates,” Aina said. “Because of the theme that I wanted to channel for the look, it was important to me that I worked with a Black designer.”
In keeping with the 2021 Met Gala theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” Aina’s vision for her dress was “’90s Black Barbie meets Pamela Anderson,” she said.
“I almost wanted to look like if a Black Barbie joined the motorcycle gang and was inspired by Pamela Anderson,” she said. She reached out to Noel two months ago about her vision, and the designer was game.
“With such a simple silhouette, we opted to use bright and punchy colors on the pink and purple spectrum,” Noel wrote to WWD via email. “One of our brand colors for our current collection season is a ‘shocking pink,’ so to play off of Jackie’s beauty and her love for makeup, we knew this was the right color palette.”
The dress is made of silk charmeuse, with a ruffled corset underneath. Aina punctuated the look with a blonde bombshell updo, styled by Kira Dior, and makeup by Kenya Rucker.
“With the Met celebrating American designers, I simply played into what America is, along with my heritage: a melting pot,” Noel said. “Jackie’s dress is the perfect mash-up of glamour meets girl next door.”
Of the event itself, Aina said it was “a lot more relaxed than I anticipated.” She mingled with designers such as Donatella Versace, who requested to meet Aina, according to Derek Blasberg, YouTube’s head of fashion and beauty.
“I got to go with other creators from YouTube, so that was a nice little cushion,” Aina said. “I didn’t feel like I was in an environment where I had to drink to feel comfortable. It was very chill. And things that I normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing, I just went for it. I was mingling with people and networking with people, which is not something that I normally do. Being present and being friendly goes a long way.”
Aina’s presence at the Met Gala, the fashion industry’s most exclusive event, marks a growing acceptance of content creators among fashion’s historically restricted ranks. During COVID-19, especially, brands realized the power of influencers to drive business. Some influencers, Aina included, even launched businesses of their own. (Aina’s Forvr Mood entered Sephora in July.)
Speaking of influencer marketing, Aina said it’s “important that all industries embrace content creators.”
“It’s all fairly new, but what we know is that the industries that embrace change are the ones who usually last the longest,” she said. “The fashion industry is embracing that influencers have power, they move the needle, they shift trends. Their ability to evaluate that is what’s going to continue to push the industry forward.”
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