Now this is a way to make a Met Gala comeback! The last time Jennifer Hudson attended the red carpet of Fashion’s Biggest Night was back in 2011, when she arrived in a voluminous toffee-hued ballgown on the arm of Vera Wang (below). Five years later, the singer, actress and current star of Broadway’s The Color Purple has returned to the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in a big way, walking the red carpet in a white silk gown featuring 3D beading, French knots and sequins by H&M. And that train? It measures four feet long.
“The dress is definitely a statement piece—it’s a showstopper,” she told PeopleStyle when we caught up to get all the details on her look before she made her big red carpet walk. “It’s very befitting for the moment of the Met Gala. I feel like it’s something that can’t be missed. I’m excited to be coming back to the Met Gala in that type of way. I’ve grown in so many ways and learned to have an even greater appreciation for fashion, so I hope that reflects and that I exude that.”
That’s why she’s thrilled to team up with H&M for her comeback look. “To me, H&M is a bridge between the everyday girl and the Hollywood girl,” she said. “It represents every girl and every woman, and I feel like we all connect to it. So I feel like I’m representing every girl. I really do.” And that means being slightly nervous about walking the massive red carpet. “It’s a bit nerve-wracking,” she said. “The stairs they are huge. I swear the bannisters are blocks apart from each other! But I told H&M, ‘Don’t you worry, because I am going to display this dress.’ I’m determined to. I get a little nervous when I think about being in the middle of everything. And this is a dress that you will notice in the middle of everything. So I must be focused and ready.”
Hudson noted that it took three or four fittings to get her dress just right. “The most fun part is to see the progression of the gown and the dress being built,” she said. “One of my favorite things about what I do and being a part of this industry is being around people who are passionate about what they do. And this group of people could not be more serious, more into it, and more passionate about making this gown. And I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed the most—watching them build it and see the time they put into it.”
Hudson did take actually fitting into the dress quite seriously, altering her diet to maximize leanness. The two days leading up to the Met Gala, she only ate protein and red and green peppers. “This is so I can attempt to be as lean as I can be,” she said. “Before one of my fittings, I was like, ‘I’m only eating celery until I fit into this dress!’ But chocolate keeps my nerves calm, so I might have to sneak some in there.”
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As for her hair and makeup, she went for a combed-back ‘do, a plum lip and a bold smokey eye. “I did want to do something that has a little more fun and not just keep it too traditional,” she said. “I want flair of something fun in it.” She also accessorized with bold rings and a stack of shimmery bangles.
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So, what’s she’s bringing with her? “The purses are never big enough to really hold anything,” she joked. But her phone is a priority. “I need it. I like to keep tabs on the Twitter, the Instagram, and social media to see how everyone’s perceived in that moment. So most of all, I have to have my phone—and make sure it’s fully charged.” Her energy stone is also inside. “When you’re around such a major event, you get the jitters, so I feel like my energy stone balances my energy,” she noted.
Yet, it’s the party itself she’s pumped for most. “I’m excited to be amongst my peers,” she said. “I’ve been on Broadway for the past six months and in New York so it’s going to feel good to be able to see everyone.” In fact, her co-star from The Color Purple, Cynthia Erivo, is on the red carpet with her. “It always feels good to have a familiar face with you and someone you can experience it with. But it’s so busy of a carpet, I told her we might not even see each other!”
Do you like Jennifer’s Met Gala look? Let us know in the comments!
—Sharon Clott Kanter