We’ve spent all day oo-ing and aah-ing over the fantastical pictures from last night’s Met Ball – always a major highlight on the fashion calendar. To mark the opening of the ‘Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations’ exhibtion at the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the most dazzling stars of the fashion world gathered in all their finery. We were astounded (and confounded!) by some of the gowns, but were most excited to see actresses Dree Hemingway and Jaime King both wearing Topshop on the red carpet. Considering Hollywood’s glitterati can choose to wear any designer of their choice, it’s a real honour to see our very own pieces being worn to such a prestigious event.

So how does a Topshop dress from our London HQ end up being worn by a style icon at the Met Ball? We met with Topshop‘s Head of Design Development, Geraldine O’Brien to find out.


Geraldine (far left) with the design development team and fabrics that were used for Jaime and Dree’s dresses.

Geraldine, tell us about what your job involves?

I’ve been working for Arcadia for over 21 years, and on a daily basis I run the sample and pattern room here at Topshop HQ. We oversee the creation of all brand new products – from the design stage, to producing samples, to testing the final garments. Every day throws up new challenges for us!

Dree Hemingway in her custom Topshop Unique AW12 gown.

So what happened when you found out about the Met Ball dresses for Dree and Jamie?

It was most certainly a team effort! Right from the start, we knew we were going to create a special custom Unique gown for Dree in the gold sequin fabric – we started by taking the original AW12 catwalk design and then made it floorlength. It was all fitted to her, a complete one-off. Then last Monday, with one week to go, it was decided that the dress should be knee length! Thankfully, she flew straight in to London for a fitting and we managed to get it finished and sent over to New York in time for the event.

Jamie King in her custom designed and made Topshop gown.

How did you create the dress for Jaime King?

With a lot, a lot (!) of phone calls, at very strange times – we dealt with Jaime directly so had no stylist to worry about! The design team knew that bright scarlet red would look great on her, and would work well on the red carpet – ultimately, no-one wants to photograph a black dress. We took one of the Unique AW12 devore silk fabrics with large and small cross motifs and dyed it that bold shade of red. Holly Wright, one of our designers, sketched a style which we then sent along with the fabric swatches to Jaime in Los Angeles. She sent it back with a few tweaks and her measurements, which are all we had to work with – there were no fittings! She looked great though, really happy and comfortable, so we were pleased.


Who else would you like to dress for the red carpet?

Every year the Topshop team dress interesting people for the Met Gala and other big events – last year Ginnifer Goodiwn and Jessica Szhor wore dresses by us. It is always stressful and last minute, but equally there’s a huge sense of achievement. They are all cool girls, so let’s see who we get next year!