Celebrity chef Melissa King wears Chinese dynasty-inspired nail guards to the Met Gala

michelle king
  • Celebrity chef Melissa King wore Chinese dynasty nail guards – traditionally worn by empresses – to the Met Gala on Monday.
  • King explained in an Instagram post yesterday that they wanted “a fun play” on their Chinese culture in connection with the daily use of their hands as a chef.
  • Designed by Chris Habana and his team, King said the nail guards were inspired by Empress Dowager Cixi, the last empress of China who is remembered as “power hungry” in history but who King suggests “might have been more of a feminist.”
  • King is well known for winning Season 17 of Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars: Los Angeles” and for judging on Season 18 of “Top Chef.”

At the Met Gala this year, celebrity chef Melissa King was styled in Chinese dynasty-inspired nail guards historically worn by empresses.

In an Instagram post yesterday, King, who goes by they/them pronouns, detailed the inspiration behind their jewelry piece and shared a series of photos showing off the luxurious and intricate design.

Created by jewelry designer Chris Habana, the nail guards were inspired by Empress Dowager Cixi, the last empress of China. According to King’s post, she is historically remembered as a “power hungry ‘dragon lady,’” but may have actually been a feminist in a “patriarchal governed China.”

“As for my #MetGala Guilded Glamour jewelry piece, I was determined to represent my culture through Chinese nail guards traditionally worn by empresses in dynasty times,” King wrote in their post. “As a chef, I work with my hands daily so highlighting them in this way felt like a fun play on things.”

According to another Instagram post that Habana shared yesterday, the nail guards were made of brass filigree for a golden look and embellished with extravagant crystals and pearls to embody both the traditional Chinese nail guards and the Met Gala’s theme of “Gilded Glamour.”

“We assisted Melissa with representing their culture by taking brass filigree and bending it and shaping into a hinged nail guard that also resembles a gilded glove and embellished it in Swarovski crystals as well as faux and freshwater pearls,” Habana explained.

This year was King’s first Met Gala, to which they were also invited to serve as a chef curator for the event’s first course. 


Feature Image via Getty Images

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