Stepping out at the Met Gala 2023 (her first ever!), Doja Cat instantly delivered one of the evening’s most Internet-breaking moments by channeling the one and only Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved cat. “It makes no sense for anyone to go as Karl’s cat more than Doja Cat,” says Brett Alan Nelson, her creative director, and stylist, who refers to the artist by her given name, Amala Zandile Dlamini. The pair spent six months working with Oscar de La Renta’s co-creative director Fernando Garcia on Doja’s completely hand-beaded gown featuring a face-framing hood punctuated by a pair of cat ears. “Oscar and Karl were very close,” he says. “And the look feels very Oscar, but also like something Chanel could do at a couture show.”
Of course, it was Doja Cat’s idea to bring prosthetics into the beauty mix. “Amala and I were very clear that we didn’t want it to feel like a costume, and when you’re adding that element of prosthetics, you’re riding a very fine line,” says Alan Nelson of reaching out to prosthetic artist Malina Stearns for an elegant homage to the feline heiress. “She’s not furry, but I had images of Choupette as references,” says Stearn, who cast Doja Cat’s face for a molding about two months ago, perfecting the shape of the “sculpt” over time to get it perfect.
To ensure the overall look would read “more beauty, less costume,” makeup artist Ernesto Casillas chose to keep a light hand. “We wanted the makeup to read feline, but still soft and pretty,” says Casillas. “Doja and I agreed that we needed to do a thin and delicate cat-inspired eyeliner,” he says of using Charlotte Tilbury’s The Feline Flick liquid eyeliner, “which is coincidentally the perfect name” and matched her lip color to her faux nose as a “small but endearing detail” using Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk collection on lips and cheeks.
Then, there were the jewels. “On top of the beauty, we decorated her with diamonds from Messika,” adds Alan Nelson, who credited French artist and designer Erté as the inspiration for the jewel on Doja Cat’s third eye. “I mean, there’s a million-dollar diamond that’s just sitting in the middle of her forehead,” he says with a laugh. “It’s the most major art moment of the year. It’s her first Met Gala, and we need this to be bigger than what we’ve done in the past,” he says of the gone-viral beauty moments they’ve been creating with artists like Laurel Charleston over the past year. After seeing herself in tonight’s final look, Alan Nelson saw Doja Cat register the next-level potential in real time: “She looked at me, giggled, and asked ‘Are you excited?’”
This article was originally published on Vogue.