“Trying on the dress was a cathartic moment for both of us,” Devon told Vogue.
When Jeremy Scott first came across Devon Aoki, gazing from the pages of The Face magazine in the late ’90s, he remembers being “completely and utterly mesmerized by her captivating beauty. ”Scarcely into her teens, the fledgling model was still at school in London at the time, but Scott, who was working on his third eponymous collection, resolved to cast her in his show. It would be Aoki’s runway debut, the start of a catwalk career that saw her become a defining face of turn-of-the-millennium fashion—as well as the start of a close friendship between designer and muse that endures to this day.
The look Scott has created for Devon to wear to the 2023 Met Gala, which celebrates the legacy of the late Karl Lagerfeld (“A man who championed us both,” Scott points out), reflects their shared history. “I think he really went back down memory lane to our time with Karl,” says Devon, who was a muse to Lagerfeld for many years.
The starting point for Aoki’s Met Gala gown—and Jeremy’s complementary tux – was the leather minidress Devon wore in Scott’s autumn/winter 2001 show in Paris. “I was thinking about Karl’s use of black and white throughout his career and decided to base our looks solely in black and white,” Scott tells Vogue. “I then thought about one iconic Chloé dress he did with black jet beaded trompe-l’oeil folds, and mixed this idea with the memory of the last time Karl, Devon, and I were together, right after my Fall 2001 show in Paris. Devon wore a white-winged leather minidress, so I took my iconic wing and came back to it, fusing it with these nods from Karl for both Devon’s gown and my tuxedo jacket.” The fittings proved emotional. As Devon puts it: “Trying on the dress was a cathartic moment for both of us, considering our time together in the industry from babies to now.”
Aoki describes her relationship with Lagerfeld as “undoubtedly one of my life’s greatest gifts”. “As a young teenager, he made me feel seen, loved, and special,” she says now. “He plucked me from this obscure place of not being a standout to being his muse and being celebrated. It was really such an incredible thing for me as a young biracial girl, [who was] shorter than most of the other girls with untraditional looks.”
Lagerfeld’s support also dramatically impacted Scott’s profile in his early days in the industry (he once said Scott was the only person capable of taking over Chanel after his own tenure as artistic director). “I loved Karl dearly and was as bemused as everyone else that he was so vocally supportive of me and my work,” Jeremy says. “His generosity, generosity of spirit, sharing of knowledge, inspiration and wisdom were the things I admire most about him. He was curious! I truly believe that is one of the reasons he had such a long, enduring career, so my motto is to always stay curious.”
As for his close bond with Devon, Scott puts it down to the pair having “grown up together in fashion.” He describes their first meeting at his Paris studio in the ’90s as “love at first sight.” “I had never and still to this day am yet to meet someone so exquisite both inside and out,” he says. “And as we are both Leos we are incredibly loyal friends by nature!”
The friends can now add this special Met Gala outing to their long history of shared fashion moments, from Devon’s appearances in her friend’s landmark White and Pink shows in Paris in the late ’90s (“That era in fashion in Paris, the energy around Jeremy… it was a real moment,” she recalls), to her surprise return to modeling in 2016 to walk his Moschino runway. But many of their treasured memories took place far from the flashbulbs. Aoki fondly remembers Thanksgiving dinners playing Pictionary with her extended family. “Jeremy is the funniest and most competitive person I know,” she says. “My stomach would hurt from the amount of laughing we did. He knows my uncles, my siblings… he loves my mom, he loves my kids. Also, if you were on Jeremy’s team, you knew you were gonna win.”
Scott, who announced earlier this year that he will be stepping down after a decade as creative director at Moschino, has form for masterminding unforgettable Met Gala moments. He cites the 2019 edition, with its theme of “Camp: Notes on Fashion” as a particular favorite. “I was so excited about that Met Gala and feeling truly in my element,” he says. “I dressed Katy [Perry] in the chandelier, Gwen [Stefani] as a Las Vegas showgirl, Bella [Hadid] with her bejeweled cut-outs, Tracee [Ellis Ross] in the frame dress, Sarah [Paulson] in the bow-tie gown, Maluma suited and booted in fringed beading, Violet Chachki in the sleek glove gown, and Kacey [Musgraves] as the Met Gala Barbie complete with pink Corvette. It really felt like that Met Gala was my very own personal birthday party!”
Four years on, as he closes the book on a significant chapter in his career at Moschino, ahead of this year’s Met Scott was most looking forward to “walking the carpet with my best friend”, he says. “And celebrating a man who championed us both.”
This article was originally published on British Vogue.