Ashley Graham On Wearing Fast Fashion To Her Very First, Very Surreal Met Gala

Photo: Getty Images.
We don't need to remind you that Ashley Graham has been utterly killing it in 2017, including (but certainly not limited to) her big U.S. Vogue cover debut, which was one of her major career goals. (Unsurprisingly!) We're not even halfway through the year, and the body positivity-championing model checked another major milestone off tonight. Graham attended the annual Met Gala for the first time ever, dressed by H&M for the occasion. As for Graham's look, it's got an off-white corset (that part was the nod to the evening's honoree, Rei Kawakubo, and her plays on innerwear-as-outerwear) festooned with massive silk organza ruffles running down one shoulder, draped diagonally across the body and down to the train, in various shades of crimson (a very popular hue of the night, also as a nod, presumably, to Kawakubo).
The relationship between the model and the fast fashion staple has been going on for a little white: she made waves when she walked her first Paris Fashion Week show at the retailer's runway last year, and starred in the corresponding H&M Studio campaign as well. (As for her fellow tablemates tonight who're also clad in the Swedish retailer's designs, it's a fun, eclectic crew: Jourdan Dunn, Nicki Minaj, Sasha Lane, Future, Joe Jonas, and Stella Maxwell.) Ahead, Graham fills Refinery29 in on the significance of her very first go at the Met Gala.
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This is your first-ever Met Gala: What does that mean to you?
"I'm so thankful that Vogue is supporting me not only as a model, but as a body activist. Fashion hasn't always been inclusive of curvy women, and now I've been put on the cover of Vogue and will be attending the biggest annual event in the fashion industry. It's surreal and signifies all of our hard work and passion for the body positivity movement."
What were your thoughts when you first found out you were invited to the Met Gala?
"I was in Tel Aviv when I received the confirmation that I was invited by H&M, and I screamed out loud with excitement! It's been a dream of mine to attend, and my first thought was, 'I need the most epic dress.'"
You’ve worked with H&M on some firsts for size diversity, so it must be pretty meaningful to join them for the big night.
"Not only is it my first Met Gala, but it's with a brand that I've been working with for years, from campaigns to runways. I think this is another example of how the brand celebrates size diversity."
How did you feel prepping for this step-and-repeat?
"The Met Gala has so many amazing fashion moments that people remember for years. People can tend to play it safe on other red carpets, but this event really celebrates fashion as art, so you can take more risks and be more creative."
How does your look channel this year’s Rei Kawakubo retrospective theme?
"The off-white corset is subtlety deconstructed, reflecting Kawakubo’s love of a garment’s construction."
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What's most striking to you about Rei Kawakubo’s fashion legacy?
"I'm in awe that Rei Kawakubo didn't have any formal fashion training, but created one of the most celebrated and recognized fashion houses of all time. Although a private person, her work speaks volumes."
You're wearing a fast fashion brand to the Met Gala: What's meaningful about that?
"I love that the fashion industry is embracing more accessible brands, and that celebrities and style influencers are mixing streetwear brands with high end pieces. H&M has always been a brand that can provide customers with pieces that are not only fashion-forward, but also affordable and in a range of sizes, turning the fantasy into reality for so many people who appreciate fashion."
Is the Met Gala something that’s always been on your professional wish list?
"Absolutely. I've always wanted to attend and represent for the curvy women!"
What else are you hoping to achieve career-wise in 2017?
"This year I'm hoping to work on some more TV projects."
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