Lily Collins’ Makeup Is the Met Gala’s Most Thoughtful

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Lily Collins

Her makeup artist Fiona Stiles had been prepping for this moment since the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition was announced six months ago.

There was perhaps no one better prepared to translate Monday night’s Met Gala theme—“Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”— onto the red carpet than celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles.

Six months ago, the day the exhibition was announced, her brain immediately went to the occult and the dark arts. Stiles went to art school, where she studied art history, giving her a unique perspective and interest in the subject, and she's been ruminating on the theme since then.

“I knew there would be a lot of angelic renaissance beauty, and Lily’s always really wiling to go for it,” she recalls. “I texted her, ‘I’m thinking about the dark arts,’ and she’s like, ‘Awesome, I’m on board!’” Stiles’ research began then, a half-year ago. She collected photographs and references, putting together a mood board months before even seeing Collins’ custom Givenchy dress. “I gave it a lot of thought,” Stiles says. “I marinated on it for weeks and weeks and weeks. And you can’t do that with every client. Lily’s a risk-taker, and she loves a vision and she loves a look and she loves an idea. She was really on board and that provided a tremendous amount of energy to the creative side.”

When she saw pictures of the chic and darkly dramatic Givenchy gown a month ago, Stiles says that she had a feeling it was all going to come together. The vision: “It all sort of felt a little nunnish, a little occultish. It could be austere but still really beautiful.” She collected more references, and sent Collins a PDF so she could give feedback on the images she responded to.

Hairstylist Gregory Russell contacted Lelet and they designed a headpiece together. Cartier added the white gold necklace and earrings from their collection, along with the Cartier Paris Nouvelle Vague ring in 18-karat rose gold with black lacquer and diamonds. Meanwhile, Stiles was collecting her materials and products, which included trips to trimming stores for Swarovski crystals and sequins, and experimentation with an opaque dark lip that ultimately felt too heavy. 

She decided on a sheer gunmetal gray eye, inspired by Swarovski crystals of the same hue, and a sheer purple lip using the ideal Lancome lipgloss in Purple Onyx. The piece de resistance came in the form of her relic-referencing tear, a glued-on applique she made. “I’d been thinking about rubies and stigmata and these virginal tears, all the religious iconography that goes with the theme,” says Stiles, who cut out circular shapes in different materials, some made with glitter, others with sequins, to find the tear that would look the most dynamic against Collins' ultrafair skin. Finally, “I wanted to make her skin look like moonlight on marble,” says Stiles. “She’s such a fair beauty. I did layers of things to give it this translucent matte reflective look, the way marble and these paintings emanated light in a very specific way.” (That included Lancome’s Dual Finish Highlighter in Shimmering Buff and Le Duo contouring and highlighting stick in Ivoire.) And the most thoughtful beauty look of the Met Gala award goes to Collins and her collaborator Stiles.