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Nicole Richie's Met Ball Design for Britt Maren: Inspired by Alexander McQueen

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Marc Stamas/Getty, Jeff Vespa/Getty

When model Britt Maren ascends the staircase at tonight’s Costume Institute Gala, she will sport a custom dress by a well-known designer: Nicole Richie! After revealing to WWD that the Winter Kate dress is “pretty major,” reps confirm to PEOPLE that in addition to designing for Maren, Richie will also attend the event alongside her model muse. When she debuted Winter Kate in 2009, Richie told PEOPLE she was inspired by the 1960s and ’70s, plus music and people of the past. This year’s Met Ball will honor one such individual, the late Alexander McQueen, whose unique aesthetic had a veritable impact on Richie’s design process. “McQueen was such a visionary,” Richie tells PEOPLE of the couturier, whose eponymous collection was worn by newlywed Kate Middleton. “It would be hard not to find elements of the dress I designed for Britt Maren in one McQueen dress or collection.” And while the Winter Kate brand is steadily gaining traction (with Richie herself as a ubiquitous ambassador), tonight will mark the first time Richie attends the Vogue-hosted gala in an official designer capacity. Tell us: Are you excited to see Maren’s Winter Kate gown? And don’t forget to visit PEOPLE StyleWatch tonight for all the latest from the 2011 Met Ball! –Justine Harman