British race car driver Lewis Hamilton is no stranger to the Met Gala as a veteran attendee with several fashion moments to his name.
For this year’s gala, however, the sporting champion opted to use his star power for another cause: highlighting emerging Black talent.
Hamilton told Vogue that he wanted to create a space for up-and-coming Black designers, and with the support of the event's cochair, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the Met was the perfect opportunity to do so.
“I wanted to create a table around supporting and celebrating up-and-coming young Black designers, and we’re living in a time where diversity and inclusion is so important,” Hamilton said.
The 36-year-old, who launched his foundation Mission 44 to champion fairness and inclusion, attended the gala with designers Kenneth Nicholson, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, and Jason Rembert of Aliette.
“Young designers don't have the same opportunities, and so that's really why I wanted to support young up-and-coming talent and the Met is the biggest fashion event of the year,” Hamilton said.
The racing champion said he hoped that by bringing the designers together for the night on a major fashion stage, he could create a “meaningful” moment.
“I wanted to take the opportunity and something that would start and spark a conversation. So when people see us all together, they'll be asking and put these Black designers at the top of people's minds, particularly in the fashion community,” he added.
The seven-time Formula One World Champion wore a look from Nicholson and praised the young designer for his “truly inspiring” craftsmanship in menswear.
The gala made its return at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City after last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic. This year’s theme was a nod to American fashion.
Just 24 hours before the event, Hamilton narrowly escaped serious injury after being involved in a collision at the Italian Grand Prix.
“It's days like today, I am reminded of how lucky I am. It takes a millisecond to go from racing to a very scary situation. Today someone must have been looking down, watching over me!” Hamilton tweeted.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, representatives for Hamilton added that the racing champion was equally committed to improving the diversity of the fashion industry as he was his own industry.
“Lewis recognizes it’s not only UK motorsport that needs to change to become more inclusive and hopes by inviting these designers, their work will be celebrated at one of the biggest fashion events of the year and their attendance will spark much needed conversation around the change that is still needed to make the fashion industry more inclusive,” the statement said.
The gesture has been applauded for its impact and ensuring Black designers were included in fashion's biggest night.