Naomi Osaka’s Met Gala Look Is a Powerful Celebration of Her Heritage
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If there’s any young athlete that knows how to balance a show-stopping fashion moment with a personal or political statement, it’s Naomi Osaka. A sartorial trailblazer within the world of tennis—and a four-time Grand Slam winner, lest we forget—Osaka’s tenacity on the court is matched only by her keen eye for style. A self-professed fan of Rei Kawakubo, Kerby-Jean Raymond at Pyer Moss, and, of course, Nicolas Ghesquière’s designs for Louis Vuitton, for whom she is now an ambassador, Osaka can serve a red carpet look just as effortlessly as she can serve a match point.
It comes as little surprise, then, that as she arrived as one of tonight’s Met Gala co-chairs, Osaka’s Louis Vuitton outfit was her boldest and most thrilling style statement yet. The custom corseted dress in a colorful, graphic jacquard—topped with a silk-mix cape featuring 22 ruffles, 18 meters of leather satin, and a 50-meter silk hem—was impressive on its own, but the underlying message of the print that covers the bustier and skirt was what hit closest to home for Osaka.
Beginning as a digital watercolor art piece by Osaka’s sister Mari, herself a pro tennis player, it incorporates Koi fish as a nod to their shared Japanese heritage. “The first time I met Nicolas we spoke not only about me working with Louis Vuitton as a brand ambassador, but also about how we could find ways to work together and even try and co-design,” says Osaka of how the look came together. “So it’s a dream come true for me that our first design collaboration is something I will wear on the Met red carpet. The fact that Nicolas, Mari, and I could come together bringing this to life is something I am very honored to be a part of.”
On this, Mari agrees. She also elaborated on how the look’s multicultural spirit reflects the theme of this year’s Met Gala, which celebrates the past, present, and future of American fashion while raising money for the museum. “Working alongside my sister and an iconic designer like Nicholas Ghesquière was inspiring,” says Mari. “The design we ended up creating speaks to our biracial heritage and in that, I believe it really celebrates who we all are and how we all play a role in the American Dream. It’s a celebration of cultures, like America itself, a melting pot of so many special and unique elements.”
It’s this spirit of cultural cross-pollination that made the look feel appropriate not just for Osaka, but for a night that celebrates the rich diversity of communities that have made American fashion something to be celebrated. “There is nothing more rewarding for an artistic director than to exchange creatively with people that are true inspirations for their generation,” Ghesquière says. “Naomi and Mari represent strong voices and values. I am honored to have collaborated with them on this dress that marries our respective cultural and aesthetic heritage. We had a common desire throughout this process to celebrate the ideal of the America we all aspire to.”
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