“‘If I ever get to go to the Met Gala I solemnly swear to not wear a bland ass black tuxedo unless the theme is distinctly “bland ass black tuxedo,’” pop wunderkind Conan Gray playfully tweeted in 2018. Fast forward four years later and Gray kept to his vow: the 23-year-old attended his first Gala wearing a custom Valentino look complete with a flowing cape and a sheer, embellished-to-perfection blouse. “We wanted sheer and we wanted something that had a train,” Gray explained to V. “And that’s what we came with to Pierpaolo [Piccioli] and it ended up being something so special.”

Since the 2020 release of Gray’s honest debut album Kid Krow, the artist has been taking the music industry by storm. Just a few weeks ago Gray made his debut at Coachella, of course, while wearing a billowing Valentino look designed in tandem with creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli. Too, the singer is gearing up for the release of his sophomore album Superache in late June and is set to embark on the European leg of his world tour just days after the buzz of the Met Gala.

Ahead of the momentous night, V caught up with Gray to witness the final touches being put on his Valentino ensemble and to discuss his feelings about attending the event, his take on the night’s Gilded Glamour theme, Superache, and everything in between. Read on, below.

V: It’s your first Met Gala, which is a major moment. How does it feel to be invited and how are you feeling before the big night?

Conan Gray: It feels like a massive privilege to be invited. It’s such a special night [with] the celebration and conservation of art. And it’s also just a very beautiful moment of the year where we get to really appreciate not only fashion, but also costume design. It’s just a magical night, so I’m very, very, very honored. I’m very nervous because who really knows what goes on inside? I don’t. So that’s my main thing, I’m curious and it’s just bizarre that I’ll be attending tonight, it’s gonna be very special.

V: There’s definitely a mystique to the Met Gala. What part of tonight are you most excited about? The performance, seeing friends, the red carpet, anything in particular?

CG: I’m curious what the carpet’s going to look like because I think we’ve all seen so many photos on that carpet. And I remember my friend pointing out a year ago, “oh, the carpet is the steps of the Met.” Logically, of course, but when you see it feels very much like you’re transported into another world. So that’s gonna be really interesting to see. And I’m also just curious of what actually happens. Like what do they feed people in the Met and what do people look like? And also celebrities always hilariously look different in real life and so that’s gonna be really funny to see which actors are very tall or very short because it’s never the middle.

V: I always feel like celebrities are shorter than you imagine.

CG: Always shorter and just these very beautiful, tiny people.

V: Whether it’s a performance or a red carpet event like tonight, is there a specific getting ready process that you follow?

CG: There’s no ritual exactly, [but] I call my friends a lot before a big event. I’m always calling them asking “should I have my hair like this or like this? Do you guys like this?” It’s a lot of asking questions to my friends, they’re kind of the jury of everything. And when it comes to skincare or hair, not really. I just hope and pray that I’m having a good hair day because with curly hair, you really don’t know what’s gonna happen. It’s a little rainy today, so my hair might be gigantic by the time I get there.

V: You’ll be wearing a look by Valentino tonight. Can you describe the idea behind it and what it was like working with Pierpaolo Piccioli and the entire Valentino team?

CG: The first time I’d done anything with Pierpaolo was for Coachella, which was a week and a half ago. It was my first time ever being in a custom look and it was such a beautiful, special, [and] intense moment stepping out on stage in the very iconic Valentino pink. Our main mission with Coachella was to wear something that would be good for the weather because I get really hot on stage [and] it’s really hot on those Coachella stages.

And we really wanted something flowy that could really play with the wind instead of fighting against it. And it was perfect, what him and his team did was just absolutely incredible. And so me and my stylist Katie Qian both went into the Met Gala look thinking we want something similar to the silkiness and beauty that the Coachella look had that also plays into the theme. I think the Gilded Age had a lot of embellishments, that old style, [and] I went in really wanting a train of some sort.

V: You talked a bit about the train and the sheer details of what you are wearing. How does your look channel tonight’s theme: Gilded Glamour?

CG: The Gilded Age had such an emphasis on the shape of the human body. It’s a lot of corseted silhouettes and also just playing around with fabrics that accentuate the shapes of the human body. I also think that [period] had this very embellished look. And so with our outfit, we wanted to take elements from the Gilded Age and use them in, not necessarily a modern way, but a very Valentino way. So we wanted to add crystals to a lot of things.

For me personally, I know it’s not a very chic thing to say, but I was like, “I wanna look like a chandelier.” We wanted to do something that felt very elegant, I think that the Gilded Age had a lot of elegance to it and a lot of excess as well. So those are the two things that we really wanted to channel with the look makeup-wise and hair-wise. I feel like curls are very, very Gilded era and very American and so I wanted to lean into the curly. My hair is curly regardless of whether I want it to be or not, so we were like, “let’s take that.” And with the makeup, when I think of the Gilded Age, I just think of blush, so we wanna do some blush.

V: There’s been so many amazing moments and themes at the Met Gala. Do you have any favorite moments you can remember?

CG: Heavenly bodies, for sure. That was such a powerful Met Gala theme. I think Camp was very, very big for pop culture specifically with the pop stars and celebrities. It was a very fun theme, especially because I think a lot of people took it in directions that we were like, “what is that?” It was really fun to see how people interpreted it. But Heavenly Bodies by far was my favorite. I think for my demographic, Gen Z, we really remembered those looks: Rihanna, Zendaya, so many people who embodied that role so beautifully.

V: Have you visited the Met before? What memories do you have there and what does the museum represent to you?

CG: The Met is so important to New Yorkers, it feels like such a facet of the city. I visited for the first time over the Summer, my friends were visiting from LA and we all went together. It was a very fun, awe-inspiring day because the Met is massive, it’s a huge, huge art museum. You could spend days and days in there and still not see everything. And so by the end of it, we’re running through being like “we wanna see everything!” It’s just such a magical part of the city. When you visit New York, you have to see the Met. Even if you’re just seeing the architecture at the outside, it’s just become so iconic. And it’s so important that art and history can be preserved in that way [and] so much of my childhood I saw has been preserved in the Met. So it’s going to be very special to be able to visit the museum tonight in what kind of feels like an after hours, Night at the Museum type thing. Because it is a very different experience to go visiting the art and I think it will feel a little different going there tonight.

V: Is there anyone who comes to mind that you would want seated at your dream Met Gala table?

CG: Well, I’m not quite sure who exactly is gonna be sitting at my table tonight, I almost don’t want to know. I feel like it’ll be surprising and funny to sit down and be like, “oh, all these incredible people that I’ve only ever seen in photos are here.” I think I’m most excited to see Olivia [Rodrigo] tonight because I feel like it’s important to have friends anywhere you go.

V: Totally. So far 2022 has been amazing for you. You performed at Coachella, you released a new single ‘Memories’, and you have your new album, Superache, coming out in June. What has this year been like so far for you, especially after the past few years we’ve had?

CG: I’ve talked about this a lot with my friends, but I think this year has felt like returning to your life or the course of your life that you projected before everything happened. And it’s been weirdly humbling because a lot of my life changed in the pandemic, but I didn’t witness it, I couldn’t see it. All I saw were tweets and social media. And then to go from that to being on tour—I just finished the US leg of my tour—and actually seeing people in real life was a huge reality check of like, “oh wow, the people that listen to the music and have listened to Kid Krow are real people.”

And it’s also just a magical thing to sing for them every night and that anyone cares about the music at all. I can’t really think of a better word than humbling, it makes me feel human in a lot of ways. And it just really feels like a celebration to be able to see people again, hug people, touch people, and not have to feel so much fear. Obviously there’s still a lot going on with COVID, but this year has felt like a return to life and Superache coming out in a month and a half, it’s gonna be such a special new chapter of my life that feels like is coming also at the same time as I’m returning to my own life. It feels like a new era in a lot of ways.

V: You mentioned your upcoming album, Superache. Can you tease anything about what we can expect? How is the album different from your debut, Kid Krow?

CG: I keep saying that Kid Krow was my introduction to the world, it was me saying hello. It’s just me being like “I’m a teenager and I had my heart broken once and it made me sad.” I think Superache dives into everything that I’ve never really said about my life. Where Kid Krow felt like an introduction, Superache feels like scraping my ribs of all the last bits of meat and all the last little pieces of the things that make me who I am. I also really lean into all the things that make any young person, a young person. It’s a very dramatic album and I want it to feel like that, it’s also a very sarcastic album. I’m not a super serious person, I hate pretentious people.

Life is supposed to be ridiculous sometimes, you’re supposed to be laughing at your demise and other times you are supposed to be obnoxiously sad. And the album is about ups and downs and all the ridiculousness of being a young adult. The album has a lot of humor to it too, that’s where the title came from. I wanted it to be something that felt hilariously sad and that’s the biggest difference to me. Kid Krow was my teen angst, and in the past few years my anger has softened to sadness.

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