This Is Us star Chrissy Metz knew she was in for a good night before even stepping inside the sprawling West Hollywood tent that was the setting for the 25th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards bash.
“I’ve never seen more sequins in one place in my life, and I haven’t even gotten to the end of the carpet yet. That has to be a good sign,” the actress, who attended with her boyfriend alongside famous folks like Heidi Klum, Laverne Cox, Ricky Martin, Adriana Lima, Beck, and Sharon Stone, told Yahoo Style. “Elton’s guests obviously know how to have fun.”
For her own after-party look, Metz played it a little more traditional in a flowing floor-length custom gown by her seamstress/House of Cyndarella designer friend but felt the shade was where she was taking a risk.
“I really wanted a deep hunter green, and my fairy godmother of fashion made it for me very quickly. A lot of designers won’t work with plus-sized people, period, and I know a lot of plus-size women feel like they have to avoid jewel tones or color in general, but I love bold colors. I am not going to pick only black just because I am a plus-size girl. Hopefully it will encourage other women [to follow suit].”
Aisha Tyler also got a helping hand from a seamstress to ready her dress, which didn’t start as one. “Honestly, this is a Dolce & Gabbana coat. I loved it so much, [I thought,] ‘Why would I wear this to a party and then take it off?’ So I just had my seamstress close the bottom so I could wear it as a dress.”
There was also a second, and possibly more important, motive for choosing the A-line. “It is also a really great shape for me to eat like 13 burgers inside and no one will know,” she joked. She’d missed the sit-down-dinner portion of the evening, which was prepared by chef Gordon Ramsay, but there was an In-N-Out truck on site and AIDS-ribbon-shaped iced cookies on the dessert table. “That’s my plan until I can get back to my sweatpants.”
She said she wished stretchy pants were acceptable gear for Monday’s installment of The Talk, where they would most definitely be talking about the envelope gaffe that led to La La Land erroneously being crowned Best Picture.
“That happened to me at the Emmys before, but I caught it because it was a little more obvious. They were doing the same thing, scrambling through envelopes,” she recalled. “It is heartbreaking. For the La La Land team, that has got to be really painful. But also the Moonlight people had that groundbreaking, powerful, and historical moment taken from them [because of] human error.”
Inside the viewing party, after an otherwise quiet and uneventful evening, that moment was greeted with shock, audible gasps, and even a few swear words. When John took the stage to start the live bidding, he cracked that, thankfully, “we didn’t have Warren Beatty do the auction.”
Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures), who added “a little flair, a little bit of Aldis” to his navy Armani tux with a chain brooch by his friend M. Cohen, explained that it was an even crazier moment to watch unfold in person in the theater. “It was intense. It was like experiencing a heart attack. I’m sitting there with Jim Parsons and some of the stage managers started running out. We were like, ‘What’s going on? Could there be a security risk?’ But then they say, ‘It’s Moonlight.’ What? I’m happy they won. I’m glad for the representation of what it means. At the same time, though, I don’t think that anybody on the La La Land team deserved to feel that moment of desperation and loss. They handled it with such class and grace. But it’s a tough way to go out.”
As he was leaving, Smokey Robinson, flashy in head-to-toe purple, sighed, giggled, and said of the snafu, “Oh yeah, we’ve been having a bunch of those [recently].”
Per usual, Hollywood did not let the kerfuffle slow down its celebrating. After a rousing performance by Alabama-based soul band St. Paul and the Broken Bones, whom John called one of his new “favorites,” attendees including Eric McCormack battled long lines at the bars, plowed through chicken sliders and fries, made out in the halls (gotcha, Klum!), and boogied under an enormous disco ball.
The annual event has raised more than $56 million over the past quarter of a century. “I never thought we’d get to 25 years. It is an awful long time,” John said on the white carpet when the evening began. “We didn’t set out to do 25 years when we had our first very small party for 140 people. It’s grown from a little seed into a big tree. It’s something that we love doing, [and there’s] a message and a purpose — to [help] people who are marginalized so they can get treatments, love, and support. That is what we really do it for.”