Every year, celebrities pair up with the biggest names in fashion to walk the red carpet in custom designs at the Met Gala, one of the most significant events in the industry. These collaborations not only help attendees boost their status as style icons, but also give media exposure to the luxury brands they work with. Chinese actress Yang Mi’s debut at the gala this week, wearing a dress created with half-a-million sequins by Michael Kors, is one example.
Yang Mi’s trip to the Met Gala (which paid tribute this year to Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo) turned out to be a buzzy social media campaign for the designer aimed at Chinese consumers. Yang is currently a hot commodity among luxury brands in China, with a huge fan base among millennials. Recently selected to be a brand ambassador for Estée Lauder, she has also worked with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Miu Miu.
Several days before the May 1 event, Michael Kors's official Weibo account announced Yang Mi would be attending the Met Gala (Chinese consumers have been already well aware of the significance of the Met Gala thanks to its controversial China-themed event in 2015). It also released photos of her wearing clothes and accessories by the designer at the airport before flying to New York. The announcement immediately prompted a strong reaction on social media.
The post garnered over 2,000 comments on Weibo by the time of this publication, with many consumers expressing delight over the airport outfit. "Yang Mi and Michael Kors are the perfect match," wrote one commenter. Others touted the actress's beauty and poise.
The peak of the campaign came on the night of the gala, when Yang wore the black-and-nude sequined gown for the red carpet. A post on the brand’s Weibo account noted that the dress took approximately 500 hours to make. The brand also posted other photos of Yang with the designer in a tux and sunglasses on social media attracting hundreds of thousands of comments from followers.
But while many social media users loved the gown, it also inspired heated debate. Some users wrote that it did not fit with the year's theme, “the art of in-between."
"Yang is not the right person to wear it," wrote one.
Aside from Yang Mi, supermodels as well as Met Gala veterans like Liu Wen made appearances. Liu Wen wore the street fashion brand Off-White, and model Fei Fei Sun came in Alberta Ferretti. Vogue ranked Liu Wen among the best-dressed celebrities at the gala this year.
Despite mixed reviews on social media, by attending this event, Yang Mi has no doubt enhanced her position in China's fashion circles. Michael Kors also leveraged Yang’s influence to get in good with Chinese consumers. As one user put it, “Even though Yang’s gown looks a bit strange on her, she looks great in the new Michael Kors clothes. I hope to buy them now!”