Jeremy O. Harris Paid Homage to Aaliyah at the Met Gala – WWD

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“It started on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea,” mentioned Jeremy O. Harris on Sunday afternoon, the day earlier than the Met Gala. The dynamic author and producer — of “Slave Play” and “Zola” fame — was with a pal who works intently with Tommy Hilfiger, and was tipped off that the designer was occupied with dressing him for the Met Gala.

Five days later, Harris was in dialog with Hilfiger and reflecting on the model’s archive. “I didn’t want to do a run-of-the-mill everyday look. I wanted to do something that told a story about how I met Tommy as a child, and also told a story about one of my favorite fashion icons,” mentioned Harris.

His Met Gala look pays homage to an iconic Aaliyah outfit, a two-piece Tommy Hilfiger yellow tracksuit worn by the singer for one in all her performances in 1997. Harris has been obsessive about the look since childhood.

“I was a big Aaliyah fan growing up, as I think many people in our generation were,” he mentioned. “I had a magazine image of her in that full yellow sailing-bomber jacket that I looked at all the time, especially in the months after her death. I had this homage to her in my locker. It always stuck out to me as the coolest Aaliyah look.”

Revisiting, and highlighting, Hilfiger’s affect on Black American tradition in the late ’90s was additionally deeply interesting to Harris. “You saw Snoop Dogg wearing Tommy; you saw every major celebrity wearing big oversize Tommy Hilfiger,” mentioned Harris. “And I knew that when we had the chance to look back on what Tommy might mean for the American lexicon of fashion and what it might mean for me, I wanted to look at it through the lens of how Tommy Hilfiger understood Black culture, and how Black culture and Tommy Hilfiger had a symbiotic relationship.”

Jeremy O. Harris getting ready for the 2021 Met Gala.

Jeremy O. Harris preparing for the 2021 Met Gala.
Courtesy

Jeremy O. Harris in custom Tommy Hilfiger

Jeremy O. Harris in customized Tommy Hilfiger
Courtesy

Harris is happy for his entrance onto the Met Gala stage to articulate the methods through which Hilfiger constructed his model round celebrating and in collaboration with Black creatives. “Some of the first people to wear Tommy on live television were rappers. And I think that made Tommy Hilfiger a very specific brand inside of the Black community — so much so that the Black community’s reverence for Tommy, someone tried to sever it.”

(In the late ’90s, an electronic mail circulated claiming that Tommy Hilfiger had gone on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and mentioned that he doesn’t design for Black individuals. That wasn’t true; the designer had by no means been on the present, though he did seem as a visitor in 2007 to set the document straight.)

“None of the designers we’re looking at on that carpet [the Met Gala] would have ever been able to make their way in this country without some Black person freaking it,” Harris added. “Tommy Hilfiger does not become Tommy Hilfiger if you don’t have [stylist] Kadida Jones getting a group of people like Tupac, Aaliyah, Mark Ronson, and all the hottest, coolest kids making pop music dancing in your clothes.”

Harris was in the means of monitoring down a childhood {photograph} of him and his sister decked out in Tommy Hilfiger to embody in one in all his “Coronavirus Mixtape” Instagram photograph posts marking his Met Gala look. “For a Black boy growing up in the ’90s, to be able to wear a fully Tommy look was to know that you were stepping out with a steez that no one else could match,” he mentioned. “Hopefully [the photo] is not lost in some Virginia trash dump.”

Monday delivered a brand new Tommy getup to add to his photograph archive; his response to seeing his closing Met Gala search for the first time was an audible gasp.

“We’re turning that jacket that I used to look at as a child into this theatrical opera coat. It’s this entrance piece that’s fitting of a playwright who wrote a play that has now garnered all these Tony nominations, that is now writing TV shows,” mentioned Harris. “I get to enter the Met Gala in a very different way than I entered it two years ago, as this timid kid who was very scared walking out after Hailey Bieber. I’m very excited to go there now fully in my power, fully in my being.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Dee Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger and Jeremy O. Harris attend The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/MG21/Getty Images)

Dee Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger and Jeremy O. Harris at the 2021 Met Gala.
Getty Images

And whereas Harris’ outfit is certain to garner loads of consideration, he — like many others — is eagerly anticipating what Rihanna goes to put on. “I think that’s the thing I’m most excited about. I love her so much,” he mentioned.

September is a busy month — and for Harris, it’s additionally monumental: as well as to attending the Met Gala, he’s additionally attending the Tony Awards ceremony, the place his play “Slave Play” has already made historical past as the most-nominated play ever.

“If you want to be underwhelmed, this is what a Tony award nomination looks like,” mentioned Harris, pulling the nomination announcement, inside a leather-based portfolio, from the desk in his dwelling workplace. “It’s amazing, but in my mind as a little kid, I thought it was gonna be so grand and so big,” he mentioned. “It’s just a little thing that I could have gotten from high school or something.”

Harris is bringing his mother as his date to the awards ceremony, and he guarantees one other style assertion on the horizon. “We’re going to be wearing looks that are going to really shake people. So I think I’m excited about the looks as much as I’m excited about the ceremony.”

There are much more massive moments forward for the 32-year-old inventive. This fall, Harris is engaged on a number of tasks; he’s writing “The New World,” a film for Warner Brothers, and one other movie for a “really amazing actor that everyone loves.” He’s additionally engaged on two performs for Broadway and is co-running the collection adaptation of bestselling guide “The Vanishing Half” alongside poet Aziza Barnes.

“After this year and a half of waiting and this pause that we’ve been on, it’s feeling really great just to come together with people in each of the small ways we have,” mentioned Harris. “Because that’s what all of those events were about. There is the glamour, there is the fun, but as someone who works in theater, I care about communities. I care about community building and shaping communities, and these little micro-communities of people who are like-minded, who’ve had similar experiences. [Opportunities] for those people to come together and feel alleviated from the mania of everything are so rare.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Jeremy O. Harris attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG21/Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue)

Jeremy O. Harris attends The 2021 Met Gala
Getty Images For The Met Museum/

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