A few hours ahead of the 2022 Met Gala, Karlie Kloss was relieved to find she was just a few blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 29-year-old model won’t soon forget the time that wasn’t the case in 2017, when she was running so late, she resorted to taking a pedi cab. “The traffic was so bad, so I thought I was a genius,” she recalls. “Until the police closed off Fifth Avenue. But instead of walking casually onto the red carpet, as I thought they would let me because, you know, I’m in full glam and custom couture, they were like, ‘Nope. You have to walk through 3,000 people to get across the street.’” She Googles a photo to show her stylist, Carlos Nazario, laughing. “It was a moment, but I have PTSD. So we’re not doing that this year.”
What they are doing this year: staying close to the museum, adding a label that’s new to Kloss’s sizable Met Gala repertoire, and making sure Met first-timer Nazario has the time of his life—especially because he managed to secure Kloss what the pair considers the perfect dress. Less than 24 hours or so hours before Kloss stepped onto the red carpet, they finally settled on a black hand-beaded Givenchy haute couture gown—custom, of course—that nails exactly what they were going for: a “really modern, beautiful” take on the evening’s theme, Gilded Glamour. “When someone has done as many red carpets as Karlie, it’s hard to find something that feels new,” Nazario says. “So for it to feel fresh, to feel new, to reference the Gibson girls and the Gilded Age, to be respectful and observant of the American aspect of the theme—it was a tall order.”
Kloss and Nazario are clearly close—this year, the stylist took over from Kloss’s husband, Josh Kushner, as her date. While already longtime pals since meeting “a few lifetimes ago,” the pair is now closer than ever, for a reason Kloss states plainly: They’ve discovered the full extent to which they’re both “such nerds.” At one point, Kloss even casually referred to deciding on her look as their “assignment.” And while many don’t pay much mind to the Costume Institute exhibition the event ostensibly celebrates, Kloss considers it akin to the “thesis” that the teachers (aka curators) use to evaluate their eager students (aka fellow nerdy attendees). “We really tried to do our homework,” she says with a laugh, comparing their research to a series of history lessons. “This is like, if we pass this final, we graduate to the next grade.”
By the time she and Nazario round out her look with embroidered evening gloves and jewels by Ana Khouri, Kavant & Sharart, and Muzo Emerald Colombia, Kloss had made up her mind that the night wouldn’t end without a graduation party for her partner-in-crime. “I’m so nostalgic for the first year that I went to the Met,” she says. “I was a naïve girl from Missouri, maybe 17 years old, so I was like real-life Cinderella. I woke up the next morning and I wrote everything down: Dancing at the after party until two in the morning with, like, Oprah, Brooke Shields, and Beyoncé, and I'm a junior in high school—I thought it was all a dream.” The bar’s high, but Kloss felt determined that Nazario would meet it. “That’s the experience I hope I can provide for you tonight,” she tells him, earnestly. “That is my obligation.”
A lot has changed in the years since that first “magical” night. Kloss has a one-year-old son—whom she left in the care of a doting nanny who called to check in mid-interview—and a husband. But the significance of the Met Gala remains the same. “I spent way more time on glam for the Met Gala than I did for my wedding,” Kloss admits. Talk about a hard-working student.