If Sharon Stone is to be believed, she was a “hairy beast” up until a few hours before she stepped onto the red carpet of Monday night’s Met Gala. “I’m with the wrecking crew, in the full throes of being made over,” she tells me that afternoon, occasionally pausing the phone call to address her hair and makeup artists. Somehow, this is all new for Stone. She’s never attended the extravaganza—(“yes, really—after 100 years in the business”)—and she’s never worn an everyday look by Thom Browne, let alone one of his masterpieces. Even full-on glam is new for the actress. “I’m very much that girl who gets up and washes [her] face with water and just throws on whatever's there,” she says. Prior to what genuinely sounds like a life-changing facial the day before, the only skincare expert in her life was “an Orthodox Jewish guy I go to to get my moles checked.”
Stone tells me all this with no trace of anxiety or trepidation: She’s fully along for the ride. “I'm very intrigued about my part in this beautiful play of the Met Ball,” she says. “I’m such a fan of Diana Vreeland and all that she brought—all of her style, her drive, her elegance, her taste—and I love that she created this.” Stone finally experiencing Browne’s “sensational” tailoring makes the night that much better. “At this time, I think, women really like and need tailoring,” she says. “We can't just always run around in a dress, you know? Sometimes we just really need to walk in like a lady, walk out like a man.”
Stone means that last part literally. And while she “didn’t tell him much of anything” about what she had in mind, Browne fully understood: He supplied the 63-year-old with both a dress for her arrival, and a suit for her way out. “It was important she felt comfortable and classic,” he tells W. “Sharon brought her own vision to the look through her personality.” In other words, she left it up to him, trusting that his vision would also be hers. From the beginning, she’s felt a sense of “kismet” working with the Thom Browne family, in part because two of its members share the names of her siblings.
The basis of their relationship—Stone’s Met Gala attire—has to do with family, too. The reason she “really loved and respected” the black beaded dress Browne had in mind from the start was because it’s based on a frock his mother, Bernice, wore in the 1960s. “It’s an homage to her and that whole Kennedy period, which I find quite spectacular,” Stone says of the floor-length beaded black gown, which is made of what Browne described as “classic black tie fabrics” like duchess silk satin and three-ply mohair. It came with a matching black cape Stone wore in a way that any other designer would have considered backwards to make her entrance. She posed just long enough for it to seem like she’d shown up in an armless sheath, then—in classic Met Gala fashion—dramatically dropped it onto the floor. This may be Stone’s first time at the event, but it definitely isn’t her first rodeo: She perfectly executed the big reveal, posing for a second round of photos as onlookers cheered.
There’s a reason Stone chose this particular Met Gala to be her first. To her, the combination of the theme, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and time of year, just after September 11, was too meaningful to pass up. “I feel really honored that I get to be a part of acknowledging how much we love and feel and hurt for America,” she says. Stone, who describes herself as “extremely outspoken” in her advocacy for vaccinations, couldn’t be more appreciative of the event’s fully-vaccinated-attendees-only policy. It’s the type of environment she’s been tirelessly pushing for in Hollywood—at times to her own detriment. Her insistence on a fully vaccinated set recently cost her a “very important” job.
While some had predicted Stone might never work again with a vaccine mandate clause in her contract, it might actually make her the biggest get in town. The director of her latest Netflix project recently thanked her for using her leverage, having always wanted a fully vaccinated set himself. Various studio and network heads have started to follow suit. For now, though, Stone is focused on writing her novel—something she’s palpably thrilled about, and that comes on the heels of her hit memoir published earlier this year. In fact, post-Met Gala, she’ll be spending the rest of her time in New York City meeting with book publishers.
Time is ticking, and there have been enough gentle interruptions from Stone’s hair and makeup team that I’m positive the “hairy beast” descriptor seems ludicrous even to her. I suddenly realize that I’ve been sweating for the duration of the call, having turned off my A.C. to record it. If I’ve been in shorts, sitting stationary, isn’t Stone worried about swathing herself in layers of beaded mohair on a muggy, 86-degree day? The answer, supplied immediately, is a firm no. “You know, I don’t worry about anything,” she says. “I find that worry is a useless activity.”
Photographs by Menelik Puryear.