Go Behind the Scenes with Taraji P. Henson for the 2024 Met Gala

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Intrigued. That was Taraji P. Henson’s first reaction to the 2024 Met Gala exhibit, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” which then led to the official dress code, “A Garden in Time.”

What always makes the Met Gala a special occasion is it’s an opportunity for fashion designers, stylists, makeup artists, hairstylists, and nail artists to work together with the celebrity to create a head-turning, campy look. It’s not about looking pretty—it’s about art. And Henson gets that. “My favorite thing about the Met Gala is how we all interpret the theme so differently from one another. I love to see how creative the guests can be,” she exclusively tells ELLE.com.

Henson collaborated with Jonathan Simkhai and his team, in addition to her longtime stylists, Wayman and Micah, to create a custom beaded dress that took 400 hours to create, prior to completing the bodice and the skirt of the gown. The gown was more than 87 feet in length with 410 feet of silk chiffon. “Everyone involved did such a wonderful job at making me feel really unique and special within the theme,” said The Color Purple star on her big night. This is Henson’s sophomore appearance, and she comments on how it feels just as exciting as the first time. “It is such an honor to be invited and be a part of a night that truly celebrates and raises awareness for the arts. Getting to explore fashion and collaborate with my team is always fun, and I love that this is also a fundraiser and a chance to view the exhibition early, too!”

The Met Gala is more than a red carpet and a party; it’s a fundraiser for the Costume Institute, which is a part of the Met Museum, but not funded by the organization. When the stars arrive, the first feat of the evening is walking the red carpet, prompting guests to walk up 60 steps, which is equivalent to around four flights of stairs. “Getting to see Lala [Anthony] at the top of the stairs is so comforting because they seem so daunting when you’re walking up them,” says Henson.

Once you get up the stairs and past your interviews, you’re welcomed by all the co-hosts. Then, you head downstairs to The Costume Institute to view the exhibit. “You must check [it] out,” says Henson. This is a fun part for Henson, who considers herself a museum girlie. As she chats art, she recalls perusing the ones in her hometown, especially those centered on Black art. “Being from DC, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is a special place, and the curation and celebration of Black art and artists is something I really value myself, too.” She has a few favorite artists: Bisa Butler, “[she] creates the most stunning and colorful quilt art pieces; Rickey Henry, “[he’s] a very talented painter from New Orleans,” she says before adding “Dope Black Art is a great resource on Instagram.”

After the exhibit, there is a cocktail hour where guests, many of them celebrities and industry insiders, mingle and catch up with one another. Henson tells ELLE.com, “Seeing everyone last night, hearing their creative process, and seeing the final looks left me with too many favorites to count!” Next is the dinner and then a performance, which concludes the event. Then, it’s time for the Met after parties! In the evening, Henson says, “Getting to explore fashion is a privilege that I so enjoy, and everyone works so hard to bring visions together.”

But what’s better than the event and the red carpet moments? What happens leading up to the big night, of course. ELLE.com caught up with Hensin and her glam team pre-Met to get all the details on her look. Keep reading to see Taraji P. Henson’s exclusive behind-the-scenes imagery from the 2024 Met Gala preparation process.

Get Ready With Taraji P. Hensen for the 2024 Met Gala
taraji p henson

Tim Wallace admits that there was no backup hairstyle. “I was very clear on what I wanted to do and was inspired by the sketch that helped shape the look. I’ve been in the element of really showing off her face and her beautiful features so pulling the hair off her face was what I wanted to go for but still keeping that dramatic effect,” he says.

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taraji p henson met gala

Wallace shares that the inspiration for Taraji P. Henson’s Met Gala look was Diana Ross and Minnie Riperton. “Preparation for the look began about a week before the event. I had the beautiful custom hair jewelry made by Erynn Lyss adorned with Swarovski crystals,” says Wallace.

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taraji p henson

“I finished the look by crowning her with the Swarovski crystal hair jewelry and custom cherry blossom hair pins,” says Wallace.

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taraji p henson

For makeup that will last from red carpet to dinner to the after parties, Beechman says, “I double layer everything to give it an extra hold, then I always finish with a makeup setting spray. If I do a cream blush, I top it with powder blush, as is the same for eyes and contour, etc.”

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taraji p henson met gala

Makeup artist Saisha Beecham shares, “The easiest way to achieve this look is to remember it’s the same color blend on the eyes, lips, and cheeks! After you base your face with your favorite tinted moisturizer or foundation, take a cream blush or beauty paint and use your ring finger or a fluffy shadow brush to dust across lids, high points of cheeks, and in the center pout of the lips.”

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taraji p henson met gala

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Taraji, can we call you Rose?

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taraji p henson

“It was all about the detail and not being afraid of colors and textures within the overall look and beauty details. We even infused real flowers in my hair, straight from a vase! This was a collaboration with my hairstylist, Tym Wallace. He and my makeup artist, Saisha Beecham, really collaborated with the Simkhai team to make me feel ethereal, timeless, and classic to honor this year’s theme. We really let the look speak for itself and built glam around that,” says Hensen.

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