Mindy Kaling's Custom Jonathan Simkhai Gown Is a Nod to Chanel Couture

"I feel so confident in this gown."

Mindy Kaling Met Gala
(Image credit: Getty)

"We're listening to Taylor," says Mindy Kaling, whose pre-Met ritual always entails a great background soundtrack. Tonight, in New York City, the actress is channeling pure fun. This year's mood-boosting, confidence-inducing music aligns with her plans to attend Swift's Eras Tour in the next few weeks, but it also keeps the mood light and fun for the first Monday in May, the signature date of the Met Gala. The Met Gala 2023, titled Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, pays homage to the late designer Karl Lagerfeld whose 65 years in the fashion industry will be honored and celebrated with the spring exhibition at The Costume Institute.  

Wearing a custom-made gown by LA-based designer Jonathan Simkhai only adds to the excitement that swirls around one of fashion's biggest night's out. The collaboration between the actress and designer was a natural partnership. Fans of one another, Kaling says the two had so much in common as parents—"plus, Jonathan is a ton of fun," she adds. Proclaimed an "A+ student" by the actress, Simkhai's design for Kaling pays homage to Lagerfield during his time as Creative Director of the French fashion house Chanel. The thoughtful construction of the dress is a nod to Chanel couture, with a horsehair cage, an hourglass shape, and hand-applied crystals and pearls—somewhat of a Met Gala signature for Simkhai, whose previous dresses for model Barbie Ferreira and singer Phoebe Bridgers have also incorporated hand-embroidered gems.

Mindy Klaing Jonathan Simkhai

(Image credit: Getty)

"We wanted to celebrate Kaling and the empowerment of the female form," says Simkhai, who, for the first time, also designed his own Met Gala look ahead of his eponymous label's first menswear launch. "As one of the most celebrated creators in the industry, Karl Lagerfeld is such an inspiration. He's set the bar high for the creative process. We wanted to celebrate the art of construction and quality and ensure we had the most impeccable construction with this dress," says Simkhai.

"Simkhai and his LA-based team of ateliers are perfectionists," says Kaling. "I feel so confident in the gown." In between hydrating, green smoothies, Russ and Daughters, and red licorice supplied by Kaling, the goal, in addition to a bit of fun, is to get as many pictures as possible before stepping inside for the night's festivities at the Met—where they have a strict no-photo policy. 

And after the party? It's all about keeping that fun ethos going. "I kind of curated my post-Met social calendar around a second look," says Kaling. She'll do a quick outfit change into a Jonathan Simkhai party dress, which the actress describes as "flirty and shorter, but still very on-theme."

Jonathan Simkhai and Mindy Kaling

A sketch of Mindy Kaling's dress designed by her Met Gala date, Jonathan Simkhai.

(Image credit: Jonathan Simkhai)
Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.