While the real Choupette stayed home for the Met Gala on Monday, the stars came out in full feline force to make up for her absence. Jared Leto went furry (and slightly terrifying) in a cat suit and Lil Nas X meowed at the press in glittery, full-body crystal makeup and pearly whiskers. For her first Met Gala, the musician Doja Cat went a slightly more understated route, with a high fashion, anthropomorphic cat look that married beauty, camp and glam.
Like Mr. Leto and Lil Nas X, Doja Cat was paying homage to Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved Birman cat, in a silvery, beaded Oscar de la Renta gown with a cat-eared hood, a fluffy white train and a cat-face prosthetic. The look was custom-made for the pop star using sea glass and bugle beads that were hand embroidered in a process that took 5,000 hours to create, according to the brand.
Styled by Doja Cat’s creative director, Brett Alan Nelson, with makeup by Ernesto Casillas and claw nails by Saccia Livingston, Doja Cat wore a prosthetic facial piece sculpted and applied by Malina Stearns.
“We were inspired by the idea of Karl’s relationship with his cat, and Doja Cat being Doja Cat, who also has a very close relationship with her cats,” Mr. Nelson said. “We just really wanted it to be an elevated version of a female feline.”
Ms. Stearns, a special-effects makeup artist who lives in Los Angeles, said that she and Mr. Nelson first started planning the look about six months ago. To begin, she took a mold of Doja Cat’s face (a process in which Ms. Stearns “slimed her face in silicone,” she said) to sculpt a small foam latex prosthetic for the event.
“She wanted to be a cat herself, as like a humanoid kind of cat,” Ms. Stearns said. They did two full run-throughs with the prosthetic and it took about an hour to apply earlier on Monday, as Ms. Stearns carefully positioned and tweaked the piece on Doja Cat’s face. It took additional time to apply her makeup. “It’s a whole process,” Ms. Stearns said with a laugh.
But compared with Doja Cat’s nearly five-hour-long transformation for Schiaparelli in January, it was almost certainly a breeze. And in terms of wearability, Ms. Stearns said that the cat-face prosthetic is more lightweight and comfortable than one might think, and that Doja Cat had planned to wear it to the dinner and throughout the entire evening of the gala.
It was important that the prosthetic balance the “humanoid” cat vision with beauty. “I still wanted her beauty to shine through,” said Ms. Stearns, who has worked with Doja Cat before on projects including her “Need to Know” music video. “We just wanted to pay homage to her being the cat and still kind of keep it in a very beauty world.”
“It was nice to take the idea of prosthetics, which is something that’s very strange and weird and not really used in the world of beauty often, but mixing it with beauty,” Mr. Nelson added.
On the carpet, Doja Cat committed to the character by meowing in response to interview questions from Emma Chamberlain. “She just was very happy today, so I was happy,” Ms. Stearns said.
Now that the night is over, what does one do with a 3-D mold of Doja Cat’s face? Ms. Stearns said she planned to keep it in her studio for future endeavors. She said, “I’ll have that forever.”