If we’re talking about iconic voices, we have to talk about Mariah Carey—especially this time of year. Perhaps that’s why Moët & Chandon invited her for a surprise performance at its holiday celebration on Monday night.
The champagne giant hosted a booze-infused party at Lincoln Center to unveil its new “Your Voices” sculpture in the middle of the plaza. The swirling luminescent piece will be a site for New York-based choral performances within it, curated by Lincoln Center and representing a “range of rare and unique voices of the city,” according to a press release. The brand also announced its new Toast for a Cause initiative inspired by the “Your Voices” piece, and is partnering with the Endangered Language Alliance to help preserve the many global languages currently present in the melting pot that is New York City.
Given the theme of the evening, it was only right that the Grammy-winning artist and self-proclaimed “Queen of Christmas” made an appearance. Dressed in a long black gown by Jonathan Simkhai featuring a thigh-high slit that revealed her matching black Louis Vuitton heels, Carey took the stage with her rendition of “Big Energy,” a remix with Latto and DJ Khaled (which samples her 1995 banger “Fantasy”). She sparkled through her whole set in Bulgari jewelry, and after deftly dealing with a small wardrobe malfunction, Carey finished strong with her beloved holiday hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Of course.
When asked about her look for the night, the musical icon said that around the holidays she typically wears “a red dress or gold and silver, even white with gold and silver accents for a Christmas moment,” but because of her opening remix number, she opted for a sleek outfit for any “fans in the audience.”
“And the audience was major!” Carey says of her performance from the green room, just after leaving the stage. “I lived for the audience and they stuck by me when—we don’t need to get into it but we might as well because it’s gonna be everywhere—that the dress broke during the first song.”
Sure enough, as the singer stepped out to sing her part on “Big Energy,” the jeweled strap of her gown suddenly snapped. She demonstrates how she handled the harrowing episode, clasping at her now-functional bodice.
“So I’m holding the mic and pushing it to the side, and at some point I had to be like, ‘You guys, this broke,’” Carey explains. “I literally thought this part [of the dress] was gonna flip down. And it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just that we didn’t realize the piece of jewelry that was on the dress that actually broke while I’m up there singing.”
Once her team knew what was going on, they swarmed her on stage to help get everything in place again with a few strategic safety pins. “You throw a safety pin on it honey, and you keep on moving! That’s all you can do sometimes,” Carey says, unfazed.
On November 1, Carey very publicly made the official switch from Halloween to Christmas with a teaser on social media of her riding into one of her busiest months. As for how she spends the holidays at home, it sounds like Carey is often working right up until the last moment—but she always makes sure to make it to Aspen.
“Because it’s the snowy Christmas I always wanted as a child,” she says. “It was what it was, we’ve gotten through it, but it was a tough, difficult childhood, and I always want to hold onto that Christmas spirit and be like, ‘No matter what, it’s gonna be a great Christmas.’ Even if it didn’t turn out that way, it has now.”
Up until the night of, Carey says she’s often busy thinking about the outfits for her shows (sometimes she has a few in one night), her holiday meal menus, and her set lists. But it’s the production of the actual Christmas celebration that matters more to her more than “almost anything.”
“It’s great to be able to spend time with the fans at Christmas, and then spend time with my friends, loved ones, and my kids,” she says.
When asked about the best gifts to give and receive this year, Carey did want to give a “shameless plug” and suggest her new cream liqueur Black Irish, which comes in three flavors.
“I’m not even a sweets person, but if you put it in hot cocoa, you can put it in coffee…salted caramel is my favorite,” she says. “But I do eggnog at Christmas, just because it’s Christmas. I’m not like, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish I could have eggnog’ all year. No, There’s no eggnog in July!”
And that’s why this is the absolute best season for Mariah Carey. Eggnog, cream liqueur, and champagne—she can have it all.
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.