Even if you don't follow the Met Gala maelstrom, you probably scoped one or two of the night's best (or worst) looks. A$AP Rocky was indubitably the cream of the crop in bespoke ERL, topped off by a colorful blanket shroud.
But the story of how Rocky ensconced himself in quilting really only came to be well known this past weekend.
See, a woman named Sarah posted about the quilt on Instagram on September 21, almost a full week after the Met Gala had wrapped. I reached out to Sarah via Instagram but didn't hear back by the time I wrote this.
She recognized some similarities between Rocky's puffy cocoon and an original design handmade by Sarah's grandma, which Sarah and her family had donated to a thrift store in the San Pedro area, and believed the two were one and the same.
"So my great grandmother's quilt was donated to an antique/thrift store a while back," Sarah said on Instagram. "When I saw the Met Gala photo I realized instantly that it had to be the same quilt."
According to Zak Foster, who personally rehauled the quilt, Sarah was right on the money.
"I believe it’s probably the [same] quilt," Foster told me. "Sarah was able to describe in detail parts of the quilt [so] it adds up enough for me. And I love it."
"Generations of quilters never signed their work and therefore the maker and their story were easily separated from the work itself. It’s so rare to track down the original maker, but given the high visibility of this particular piece, it’s been a real joy to witness."
But how did the comforter crafted by Sarah's granny end up on Rocky's back? Simple enough: Eli Russell Linnetz found it at the thrift store that Sarah's family had donated it to.
"Rene Lou Padora reached out to me on behalf of ERL," Foster continued. "Rene found me on IG and asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on this project. Once I found out it was for the Met Gala, I was all in."
Foster got to work puffing up Sarah's donated quilt with a custom stitched blanket of his own, which he wove to the original design using naturally-dyed wool yarn.
"The intention was to remake this vintage puff quilt that Eli had found at a thrift shop in LA. Over time, the project shifted from recreating the original quilt to adding a red side ... That was a smart call on Eli’s part."
Everything from shirts to bandanas to random scraps of red ended up Foster's handstitched red side, which added extra visual pop and plenty of heft to the original piece.
"I worked closely with Eli and Rene, swapping process pics back and forth until we felt like we’d attained the right level of layers and chaos (the two words Eli kept going back to)," recalled Foster.
"The day of the final fitting with A$AP Rocky, Eli and Rene came out to Brooklyn to pick up the quilt and we had a beautiful 10 minutes of whirlwind together IRL before they had to hop in a cab back to Manhattan."
Overall, a pretty huge undertaking. But one that was well-worth the stress and effort for the self-taught quilter, who never imagined his work would appear at a venue like The Met.
"I was raised in rural North Carolina but never met an actual quilter one until I met my partner’s grandma in East Tennessee," Foster said. "My work is largely intuitive and improvisational. I don’t often have a plan when I set out to make a quilt. I just start cutting fabric and see where it leads me.
"Quilts have a magic uniquely inherent to them and tapping into that magic is what draws me back to the art form over and over."
Magic is a good word to sum up the path that this quilt took from the hands of Sarah's grandmother to the back of A$AP Rocky.
"I found it amazing that something that my great grandmother made out of love for my mother, to be used to keep her warm, and was donated so that it might keep somebody else warm, ended up being used for an amazing statement art piece by amazingly talented people who took it to the next level," said Sarah.
Indeed, quilts don't just represent literal coziness but also emotional warmth. They epitomize Met Gala's theme of American independence and perhaps none moreso than the piece assembled by Sarah's grandmother.
"My hunch about quilts-as-fashion is that a few streams have converged here," Foster said. "One, humanity needs a lot of comfort right now. It also taps into the heightened awareness of sustainability."
"In a world of mass production, quilts are homemade, sometimes hand-sewn, and often speak to a single maker, usually someone’s mother or grandmother. That means quilts come with a deep well of energy that one just can't buy off the rack."