The Big Collab with Lisa, Byron and Sheila

Throughout the WINONA, INC. series I’ve use several hats created by my talented friend, Lisa McFadden of LISA MCFADDEN MILLINERY. Sophisticated, with a touch of funk, they’re right up Winona’s alley. So when Lisa suggested we collaborate for the 2019 Met Gala, I was on board right away. The theme that year was Camp—remember?— and the moment I saw the polka-dotted chapeau Lisa had created expressly for the Gala, I knew just where to take it. It was camp, right? So yeah. We took it there

And then we hear in May 2021 that the first Gala since 2019 is being planned for September. Of course Lisa and I team up again. But the big night is on the Monday following WINONA, INC.’s busiest time of year, New York Fashion Week, which ends the Sunday before. Yikes!

I’m trying to figure a way out from under the self-imposed crunch when Lisa calls me with a mindblowing turn of events. She’s in collaboration with veteran fashion designer BYRON LARS and his partner, jewelry and accessory designer SHEILA GRAY. They’re working together on the presentation of their new Fall lines. Lisa just happens to mention Winona to them. And the Gala. Byron and Sheila are curious so she logs onto the site to show them who and what WINONA, INC. is all about.

And just like that, they want in. Byron asks to design Winona’s gown for the Gala.

Can you imagine? Thee Byron Lars? Asking if he could—shee-it. I can’t even complete the thought. Needless to say, I agree.

Things are gonna get pretty tight though, selecting wardrobe, creating panels and critiquing six full days of shows for Fashion Week, plus writing and producing an entire new episode featuring guest stars, to lead into The Gala. The theme of this years’ Gala is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion and with a custom ensemble and so much good stuff to work with, I’m facing a most delicious challenge. Do I still have what it takes to meet such a demanding deadline?

And then Lisa throws another log on the fire. I want to include our designers in the episode and ask what each would wear to the Gala. And our collab expands when Lisa chooses an elegant suit in a vibrantly hued fabric created by her friend, designer APRIL WALKER. The hat, Lisa’s classic Crush cap, is festooned with ruffled edging a la Stephen Burrows.

Wow. The challenges multiply. But I’m not turning down nothin’! I go into seclusion, get busy, and damned if I don’t pull it off. WHAT SHE WORE DURING FASHION WEEK runs every day for six days during New York Fashion Week and then a brand new episode, THE RETURN OF THE MET GALA, comes right behind it featuring not only Lisa, Byron and Sheila but SEX AND THE CITY’s Kim Cattrall.

Byron, Sheila and Lisa absolutely lo-oooooove the new episode. I was anxious about it (it’s Byron-fucking-Lars y’all!) but they’re so happy with my rendering of the gown and hat and also, good sports for allowing Winona to be, well, Winona. It’s a win-win for everybody.

I just love it when things come together without a hitch. Many thanks to each of the wonderful designers for dressing Winona and making the 2021 Met Gala such a memorable experience! Byron Lar’s exciting 2021 Fall fashion line, IN EARNEST is only a click away. The site features a fresh fashion focus with sassy hats by Lisa McFadden and statement neck wear by Sheila Gray. Be sure and check it out.


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