The Return of the Met Gala

The Monday after Fashion Week is this years’ Met Gala. It’s one of Winona’s favorite parties. But a faulty elevator in her building throws a curve and tests her patience almost to the breaking point. As building maintenance work to get things going again, she wonders if she’ll miss the Gala? And how many heads she’ll have to roll because of it.

The Met Gala is back! After 18 months of Covid-19 insanity, it’s back and I am so ready! The theme this year is American Fashion and Lisa, of LISA MCFADDEN MILLINERY, proposed another exclusive hat design. Remember the Gala of 2019? And then she brought fashion designer BYRON LARS into the mix. He’s the Big Daddy of Mattel’s Black Barbie Collectible series. (I’ve got eight dolls. How many do you have?) These two, along with his partner SHEILA GRAY, got together and they ballgowned the denim, baby. That’s right. Denim. Now tell me. What’s more American Fashion than that?

It’s the evening of the gala and in my wardrobe closet, Byron and Sheila help me into the gown. It’s a smash-up masterpiece of puffed sleeves, intricate seaming, tote bag-sized pockets and a whole lot of leg action! Lisa’s hat is a wonderful, tricked-out stovepipe, it’s deep band encrusted with brass snaps and rivets. It’s just so fly— Rosalind Russell fly— and it really tops the gown off nicely. “There’s going to be lots of denim tonight,” Lisa says. “But nothing like this!”

Lisa is wearing a custom Rose Collage Walker Wear Silk Suit by APRIL WALKER

They head downstairs to the limo, along with the heavy-ass jewelry from Cartier I’m to wear, stashed in Lisa’s hatbox. It’s gorgeous earrings and neck wear, but I’ll wait and don that drag when we pull up in front of the Met. Staying behind for one last peek, I look myself over. Byron and Sheila wanted converse sneakers, to the knee, but I opted for granny boots. Stilettos, of course. You know I’ve gotta rock the pumps! And look. I could be one of his Barbies, right? This Gala is going to be epic!

Sliding on a mask, I gather my train and step inside the elevator when it reaches my floor. I’m worn out behind Fashion Week. I could collapse right here. But who’s got time for that? So much is happening right now, in spite of the virus and it’s nasty mutations. Life does, indeed, go on. The elevator stops on seven. The doors open and who’s standing there but actress Kim Cattrall. She’s been working in Canada and I haven’t seen her in ages but still, even partially masked and wearing shades, I’d know her anywhere. “Miss Samantha Jones,” I said. “How the hell are you?”

Kim’s handbag by GIVENCHY

Kim pulls a mask over her nose and mouth before stepping inside. She leans back against the wall of the elevator and crosses her arms. Taking me in from top to bottom, she says,“Heading to the Gala, I suppose?” What’s this? Do I detect snark? “I could never get an invite,” she sighs.“You-know-who made sure of that.” Of course, you-know-who is Sarah Jessica Parker and I open my mouth to squelch that nonsense right away. SJP doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the Gala guest list. That’s Anna’s domain. Totally. But before I can get a word out, the elevator makes a grinding noise. And then with a sudden jerk, it stops.

Kim takes off her sunnies and we look at each other, bug-eyed. I press the lobby button. Nothing. Then I press all of the buttons. The elevator doesn’t budge. A man’s voice comes through over the soundbox above the panel. “Hello, hello. How many passengers are in this elevator?” I speak up. “There’s two of us. Winona Warner and Kim Cattrall. And we need to get out of here ASAP! What’s going on?” The voice replies, “We’re so sorry, Ms. Warner. Just be patient and we’ll get things moving as quickly as we can.”

A few minutes later, Kim begins to tug at her mask. “Have you been vaccinated?” she asks. “Tested?” I nod yes, and in perfect Samantha-speak, she says, “I have too, a thousand times, so…” she takes off her mask and dangles it in the air. “Fuck this, shall we?” I take off my mask, too, and try to remember the last time I was trapped in an elevator. It was in the Bronx. The Patterson projects. Way different from the burled wood box we’re in now. “Alright, Miss Kim,” I prop myself on the handrail.“Spill it. I know there’s bad blood between you and my girl but honestly, why aren’t you doing the reboot? What’s the deal on that?”

“It has nothing to do with bad blood,” Kim says. “I simply believe that you can beat a dead horse for just so long. And let me tell you. That horse died when the series was over. Bringing it back for two movies was more than enough in my book. But this latest resurrection?” She waves her hand dismissively. “After almost twenty years, that horse must be pretty stink by now.” I laugh, imagining a poor horse with it’s tongue hanging out and flies buzzing around. But it’s the certainty in her snicker, though. They’re having a hell of a time selling this thing without her and she’s gotta be loving that. “I hear they’re killing you off,” I say. She rolls her eyes. “Whatever.”

Lisa, Byron and Sheila must be out of their minds by now, wondering what’s taking me so long to get downstairs. Do they even know that I’m trapped in the elevator? Neither Kim nor I can get a phone signal, so I talk to the building desk manager over the squawkbox and ask her to inform them of what’s going on. “They know, Ms. Warner,” she says. “They were here in the lobby for awhile, but I think they’ve left for the Gala.” What??! “Can you believe it?” I shout at Kim. “Those bitches have left me stuck in the elevator like Cinderella while they skip out to the ball!” She laughs at me. “You would have done the same thing!” But I don’t care. “Somebody better get their ass in gear and get me OUT OF HERE!!”

At the Gala, a reporter for NYFW.com stands along the velvet rope. She overhears Byron talking to another guest. “Winona looks amazing in the gown we created. But she and Kim Cattrall are trapped in her buildings’ elevator. It’s been over an hour. I don’t think she’s gonna get here tonight.” He scans the crowd for Sheila but doesn’t see her. Anxiously he counts every passing minute before finally throwing up his hands.“I’m going back to the building,” he says. Lisa joins him. “I’m coming with you.” The reporter, waving for her cameraman, asks, “Can we come, too?”

After almost two hours, the elevator motor revs up. The cabin shutters a little, descends, stops, and the doors inch open. We’re in the lobby! Kim and I run out, screaming like preteens. Byron, Lisa, the building’s maintenance team, the desk crew, two firefighters, and an excited reporter and cameraman break into applause. Byron hugs me and starts fluffing up the gown. Brilliant thinking dude, bringing the press back with you. All is forgiven! The reporter interviews me and Kim. Byron and Lisa, too. What a juicy piece of PR for everybody! It’ll get picked up by the New York Times, Vogue, Good Morning America. It’s the kind of publicity that money just can’t buy.

Finally we pile into the limo and head for the Gala. Lisa remembers the Cartier jewelry still in her hat box. Oops! It didn’t occur to any of us during the interview that our look was incomplete. “They’re gonna be pissed, missing out on all of that free pub,” I laugh. “I’ll send our apologies tomorrow. But right now I’m starvin’ like Marvin! Can we stop for a burger or something?” Sheila, on the phone with Byron, overhears me and laughs. “No worries, mama,” she says. “Just get here! We’ll keep your plates warm!”

Necklace by SHEILA GRAY COLLECTIONS

The press is still lined up and taking pics. Hot damn! We leap out of the car and charge up the stairs, forgetting the Cartier pieces again. Thirty thousand dollars in jewels are rattling around in Lisa’s hatbox. Oh well. In spite of being trapped in an elevator, I look incredible. But what’s this? I see a few American designers getting love on the carpet but not what I expected. There’s JLo working Ralph Lauren’s signature brim and Kate Hudson and Regina King in Michael Kors, but I can’t believe it. Moschino? Balenciaga? Chanel? Valentino? Even Anna is wearing Oscar de la Renta and he was Dominican. How’d she miss her own damn memo?

THE END

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