Hillary Clinton had the names of a number of influential American women embroidered into her Met Gala dress.
The former Secretary of State was among the guests at fashion's biggest night for the first time in 21 years on Monday (02.05.22) evening and the deep red custom Joseph Altuzarra gown she wore on the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featured a secret message with "a lot of significance".
Designer Joseph told Vogue: "When someone like Hillary goes to the Met, it's not just like, 'There's Hillary at the Met and she's wearing a dress.' It has a lot of significance.
"I felt like I had to be very thoughtful about what the dress would mean to the theme and to the occasion."
Among the 60 names embroidered into the neckline and hem were Rosa Parks, fellow former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and even Hillary's own mother, Dorothy Roham.
Joseph noted: "I knew that I wanted the dress to have a personal component for her."
This year's gala had the theme of 'In America: An Anthology of Fashion' and a dress code of Gilded Glamour, and the designer turned to vintage quilts for inspiration for the 74-year-old politician's outfit, having recently been struck by a friendship quilt at the Outsider Art Fair recently.
The blankets were popular in the late 19th century, and would see people in a community craft together and then sign their names in ink or stitching to mark a special occasion.
Joseph explained: “The quilt was an opportunity for women to get together and have this social interaction. They were often a kind of memory for women of their community and families, especially if they didn’t stay in one place all their life.
He explained: "I do think America has a very rich and long history of folk craftsmanship, which I thought was a really nice story to allude to. People who aren't famous but who would quilt at home and create things for their families."
Because Hillary is a politician, rather than a celebrity, Joseph knew there'd be a particular spotlight shone on her outfit to the gala.
He said: “For better or worse, whatever she wears is dissected and analysed so thoroughly that you have to be very thoughtful about the choices that you make.
“Obviously I was thinking about making her look great, but I was also thinking about the story she’s going to be telling through this dress, and how she would actually vocalise that when people ask her about it. I wanted that story to be something she felt a personal connection to.”