It’s 70 degrees outside, but “like a good English girl,” Karen Elson is drinking milky tea while getting ready for the Met Gala. (She’s already had her pre–Met Gala ritual of spaghetti at the Carlyle — this time with Gigi Hadid.) Her Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda gown, with a voluminous red train, rests on a fashion form in the corner. British Vogue once christened Elson “Fashion’s Red Queen,” but for the ball, she is wearing a bejeweled, spiky Dolce crown that is more Game of Thrones than Kate Middleton. Wary of a “too Elizabethan” beauty look to accompany the gown, Elson and makeup artist Angie Parker work together to create a modern and regal, sculpted red-carpet look.
Parker first preps Elson’s skin with Kat Burki skin care. “It’s cold-pressed skin care, my new obsession,” she shares. She follows with Dolce & Gabbana Luminous Foundation, while carefully filling in Elson’s brows using the Dolce & Gabbana Brow Liner. To create a soft, contoured eye, Parker uses the darkest shade of Dolce & Gabbana Eyecolor Quad in Cocoa, along with RMS Beauty’s Eye Polish in Solar closer to the brow bone. She finishes off the eye look with an angled cat eye that followed Elson’s natural eye shape and a few individual lashes.
To complete the look, Parker lightly sculpts Elson’s cheekbones with Nars Blush in Zen, while sweeping a gold luminizing powder across the cheekbones. As 6 p.m. approaches, the Syd Barrett playlist on Elson’s laptop gets turned off and things become a little more frantic. In the final moments, Parker and Elson decide on a fire-red lip color that matches the reddest rubies of her dress and crown (aptly named Dolce & Gabbana Matte Lipstick in Fire). After a frantic search for her room key and Met Gala invite, Elson finishes up with a quick body makeup cocktail of Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau Lotion mixed with the shimmery Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. And with that — and a proclamation that this is one of her “best Met Gala beauty looks” — Elson flies out the door to start her night.
Click through the slideshow below for more exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of Elson’s dress and her prep process for the Met Gala.