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The story behind Tyla’s Met Gala outfit, ‘The Sands of Time’

South African Grammy Award-winning singer Tyla made a dramatic entrance at the 2024 Met Gala at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on 6 May with a unique and unforgettable look.

She wore a skin-tight, sculptural Balmain gown made entirely of sand. The intricate design required some extra help – four male models for Tyla to navigate the red carpet and show off the dress in all its glory.

Due to the fragile nature of the dress and the intricate sand construction, the four men, originally assigned to celebrity guests, lent a hand. One gentleman carefully lifted Tyla up the carpeted stairs, while the remaining three expertly managed the voluminous train, unfolding and positioning it so that photographers could capture the dress from all angles.

Minimal accessories kept the focus on the dress itself, with only a sparkling diamond choker and drop earrings by John Hardy adding a touch of glamour. A transparent hourglass-shaped clutch filled with sand further emphasised the concept, while sand accents on her shoulders and hands completed the artistic vision.

The Water singer’s hairstyle, a layered bob with soft waves, complemented her striking look as she embodied the ‘Garden of Time’ dress code and the ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’ theme in a truly unique way.

Before walking the Met Gala carpet for the first time, the South African star revealed the inspiration behind her daring gown: “the sands of time”.

“I’m basically wearing sand. Working with Balmain was amazing. We really thought outside the box for this one, which is really exciting, and it took hours to get ready,” a laughing Tyla told Access Hollywood.

When asked about her overall look, Tyla said: “So Pat McGrath actually did my makeup, I mean she’s legendary. She killed it, and I just feel amazing.

Commenting on the logistical challenge of the dress, as she had to be physically picked up at the Met Gala in order to move around, Tyla admitted with a smile, “It’s the only way I’m navigating the stairs tonight,” she said.


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The mastermind behind Tyla’s unforgettable Met Gala look was Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director. Their collaboration involved months of meticulous planning. The concept, he revealed, was for the dress to be a one-off masterpiece, possibly destined for a future museum exhibition.

Showing off a sand face created on his torso, Rousteing said: “We measured her a few months ago to make sure she could be covered in sand. The idea was that she could put this dress on once and then it would become part of the museum (exhibition) – that was the concept of it”.

Rousteing also explained the inspiration behind Tyla’s groundbreaking Met Gala gown. In an interview with Vogue, he described it as a challenge to redefine the boundaries of fashion by transforming a fleeting material like sand into an enduring work of art.

The meticulously crafted dress featured an intriguing play of textures. Three different shades of sand adorned Tyla’s shape, subtly shimmering with strategically placed micro-embellishments. The design flowed into a flowing mermaid train, which was completely wrapped in the same captivating sand material.

“The idea of sculpting a gown out of something as ephemeral as sand captured my imagination and I could not be happier with the end result”.

The Met Gala, often referred to as the ‘Oscars of fashion’, is a prestigious annual event held in New York City. A coveted invitation-only event for celebrities and fashion icons, the Met Gala is known for its extravagant fashion displays that follow a theme each year.

Tyla rubbed shoulders with A-listers at the 2024 Met Gala, including fashion icons such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian and Zendaya, as well as celebrities such as Anna Wintour.

The event was also attended by high-profile athletes such as Angel Reese, Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams.

Several celebrities, including Rihanna, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, who have graced the Met Gala in previous years, were absent from this year’s event. The reasons for their absence remain unclear.

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