Met Gala: Lewis Hamilton’s look inspired by black Welsh gardener

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Getty Images Lewis Hamilton at the MetGetty Images

Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s Met Gala outfit was inspired by Welsh gardener John Ystumllyn

Lewis Hamilton has revealed the inspiration for his Met Gala look is one of the UK’s first black gardeners.

John Ystumllyn was abducted as a child in western Africa in the 18th Century and raised in Gwynedd, north Wales.

“Through adversity, he really triumphed,” said the F1 star, who was appearing at his fifth Met.

One of fashion’s biggest nights, the gala is a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, held annually in New York.

Each year, attendees at the star-studded event – organised by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour – are given a theme to dress to, with this year’s being “The Garden of Time”.

“What I love about the Met, and what Anna (Wintour) does with the Met, is that I’m able to really deep dive into the theme,” Hamilton told Vogue on the red carpet.

“I did a lot of research and I came across this 18th Century gardener who, through slavery times, came across from Africa to Wales and became the first black gardener in Wales.

“Through adversity, he really triumphed, so that’s where the inspiration really came from.”

That gardener, John Ystumllyn, was snatched from his home when he was about eight years old and likely brought to Wales to become a servant for society aristocrats.

John Ystumllyn

Ystumllyn’s image was captured on a small oil painting on wood, in a portrait dated 1754

Who is John Ystumllyn?

According to a biography written in 1888, a century after his death, John Ystumllyn told how “white men arrived and caught him and took him away”.

Hamilton highlighted the thorns on his outfit representing the pain caused by the slavery trade.

Dr Marian Gwyn, of Race Council Cymru, previously told BBC Wales Ystumllyn’s abduction would have been “a very traumatic experience”.

“Yet despite the trauma of that, he came and he settled in Wales – he made it his home,” she said.

He married a local woman, Margaret Gruffydd, who had been a maid at the Ystumllyn estate, and had seven children, five of whom survived into adulthood.

John was not himself enslaved. Dr Gwyn said he was “very much a free man” and was able to move from job to job.

His natural ability in horticulture meant he was never short of work.

In 2021, a new rose, believed to be the first of its kind, was named in Ystumllyn’s memory.

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Hamilton also revealed that a poem has been stitched into the inside of his Burberry jacket by Children’s Laureate Wales poet Alex Wharton.

The poem, titled The Gardener, is inspired by Ystumllyn’s life after arriving in Wales.

“I hope the sun pours light upon our skin. And we melt into each other, into everything. Maybe the trees will speak, as they sometimes do. Whispers from the shade – Run, run away,” read the excerpt in Hamilton’s jacket.

On Hamilton’s social media, he said he was “inspired by the legacy of John Ystumllym and the beauty of his work”.

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