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Ariana Rockefeller wore her grandmother’s vintage gown to Met Gala

Now that’s gilded glamour! Ariana Rockefeller reveals she wore her grandmother Peggy’s vintage Elizabeth Arden gown to the Met Gala – nearly 70 years after it was designed

  • Rockefeller, 39, attended the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Monday wearing her late grandmother’s gown from 1954
  • Italian designer Ferdinando Sarmi made the brocade dress for Margaret ‘Peggy’ Rockefeller when he was a designer for Elizabeth Arden 
  • Rockefeller believes her grandmother likely wore the gown while attending a banking event with her husband, billionaire banker David Rockefeller 
  • The family heirloom was archived at Christy Rilling Atelier and stored in a box for the past four years as Rockefeller waited for the perfect occasion to wear it 
  • Rilling, a former costume designer with an atelier in Manhattan, refashioned the dress by redraping the bodice and adding bows to the sleeves 
  • She also cleaned and restored the fabric, which had yellowed with age
  • Rockefeller accessorized her gown with heirloom jewelry and a beaded bag from the 1920s that belonged to her great-grandmother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller

Ariana Rockefeller was the epitome of gilded glamour when she attended the Met Gala on Monday in a vintage Elizabeth Arden gown that was made for her paternal grandmother — Margaret ‘Peggy’ Rockefeller — in 1954. 

The 39-year-old socialite, who is the great-great-granddaughter of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, dazzled in the silk brocade dress featuring a metallic floral print, bow straps, and a full skirt with a subtle bustle. 

Rockefeller had inherited the gown years ago, but this week’s star-studded Costume Institute Benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City marked the first time she ever wore it. 

‘I always had a sense that I would one day wear it somewhere very significant,’ she told Vogue of the family heirloom, which was the perfect choice for this year’s Met Gala theme, ‘In America: An Anthology of Fashion.’ 

Ariana Rockefeller, 39, attended the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on Monday wearing her late grandmother Margaret ‘Peggy’ Rockefeller’s gown from 1954

The socialite, who is the great-great-granddaughter of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, dazzled in the silk brocade dress featuring a metallic floral print

The vintage Elizabeth Arden gown was made by Italian designer Ferdinando Sarmi. Peggy and her husband, billionaire banker David Rockefeller, are pictured on their wedding day in 1940 

Arden is best known for her eponymous beauty line, but she also designed ready-to-wear and couture clothing. In 1945, her first couture collection was created by fashion designer Charles James, whose work was honored at the 2014 Met Gala.  

Italian designer Ferdinando Sarmi made the ladylike gown for Rockefeller’s grandmother as the head of the studio, which he ran from 1951 to 1959. His successor was renowned designer Oscar de la Renta. 

Peggy and her husband, billionaire banker David Rockefeller, were lauded philanthropists and fixtures in international society who attended countless formal events over the years. 

‘Very likely Granny wore this gown to a Chase Bank event or related to banking business during the year of 1954,’ Rockefeller told Vogue.

Before her grandfather’s death in 2017, he invited all of his granddaughters to choose special pieces from his late wife’s wardrobe. Peggy had died two decades before in 1996.

Rockefeller’s vintage gown was archived at Christy Rilling Atelier and stored in a box for the past four years as she waited for the right occasion to wear it. 

According to Vogue, she had considered pulling it out for the 2019 Met Gala, but she felt it was too regal for that year’s over-the-top theme, ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion.’ 

Rockefeller’s decision to wait proved to be the right one. The dress code for the 2022 Met Gala was an ode to Gilded Age fashion. What could be more fitting that a vintage American gown designed for a member of the Rockefeller family?  

Rockefeller accessorized her gown with heirloom jewelry before hitting the red carpet 


Rilling also covered a pair of her favorite heels in leftover fabric from the tailored gown to complete the look

Rockefeller posed for photos outside of The Mark Hotel before heading to the star-studded fundraising benefit 

Rockefeller’s grandparents (pictured in 1969) were lauded philanthropists and fixtures in international society who attended countless formal events over the years

‘This year is about celebrating the talents and legacies of American designers and how those talents shaped American style,’ Rockefeller said in a press release. 

‘In that sense, my gown is a part of this story: an Elizabeth Arden gown designed by Ferdinando Sarmi in 1954 for my grandmother and then reimagined by Christy Rilling for me today in 2022.’

Rilling, a former costume designer with an atelier in Manhattan, refashioned the dress ahead of the fundraiser. She cleaned and restored the fabric, which had yellowed with age, despite being properly stored. 

She also modernized the silhouette by redraping the bodice, remaking the crinolines, and adding bows to the sleeves, among other alterations. 

Rockefeller believes her grandmother likely wore the gown while attending a banking event with her husband (pictured in 1991) 

Rockefeller also wore a beaded bag from the 1920s that belonged to her great-grandmother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (pictured in 1932), the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Rockefeller (pictured with her grandfather in 2013) said David invited all of his granddaughters to choose special pieces from his late wife’s wardrobe before his death in 2017 

Rockefeller told Vogue she had considered wearing her grandmother’s gown to the 2019 Met Gala (pictured), but she felt it was too regal for that year’s theme, ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’

‘Reviving this 70-year-old garment has been a fun and sustainable way to engage with this year’s Met Gala theme,’ Rockefeller said. ‘I feel like the luckiest girl to have this opportunity to wear this gorgeous piece of my family’s history to the Costume Institute Benefit.’

Rockefeller accessorized her gown with a vintage bracelet, earrings, and necklace that were also family heirlooms. Her beaded bag from the 1920s originally belonged to her great-grandmother Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Rilling also covered a pair of her favorite heels in leftover fabric from the tailored gown to complete the look. 

‘It felt like a beautiful passing of torches to work with a gown, made a few blocks from my atelier more than 66 years ago,’ the designer said of refashioning the heirloom. ‘It’s always been so fantastic to think a vintage gown will be viewed again in a modern way. 

‘For me — the epitome of sustainability. There were exquisite couture details inside the dress which we wouldn’t ever want to change in respect for the original couture design and the look it created.’

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