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 for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork