And that’s just the beginning of it. Kiernan and her team also carefully considered the exact location of the dining table in the restaurant. Part of the reason is aesthetic: The Met Gala’s decor changes every year, and so, too, does the larger composition. For example, everyone needs to have a clear view of the stage. And, well, maybe they weren’t very clear about their ex. “We try to think a lot about sightlines and where people used to sit. And we try to make sure no one is looking in the eyes of the former flame,” Kiernan said.
It was a task she accomplished with the utmost planning precision. On an easel in Kiernan’s office sits a giant foam-core board with individual velcro attached to it. (Kiernan calls it the “Lilah Tag” in honor of its inventor, Vogue‘s own Lilah Ramzi, “virtually indestructible,” Kiernan said.)
The Met Gala guest list changes every year, which means the Met Gala seating chart changes as well. Yet Kiernan keeps an archive of every piece she works on, inadvertently creating a fascinating pop culture archive in the process. “Over the years, there have been many versions of the seating plan,” Kiernan says with a laugh. “It’s fun for me to look back at them, see who was invited, who sat next to whom, and reminisce about collaborations that might have resulted. They’re pretty much little time capsules of what happened each year.”