What is the MET Gala? Why does it happen in New York City? What goes on after the red carpet? And why is it such an important event? These are a few of the questions on everybody’s mind.
Here are 5 things about the MET Gala you might not know!
When and why did it start?
The Costume Institute Gala is a major fundraising benefit that serves as an opening celebration for the Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. Following the event, the exhibition runs for several months.
The MET Gala party began in 1948 by legendary fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert whose unswerving belief in American fashion was the catalyst that made America a fashion capital. In addition to the Costume Institute event Lambert is most known for one other spectacular fundraising party, The Battle of Versailles that pit American designers against the best designers in France.
Under Eleanor Lambert’s watch the Costume Institute event, now known as the MET Gala, was a simple fashion exhibition whose goal was to raise money for the MET Museum. The tickets were $50, a bargain compared to the purported $25,000 it cost to attend the benefit in 2014.
Who made it huge?
The Gala is widely regarded as one of the most exclusive social events in New York and one of the biggest fundraising nights for the city. This all began under the tutelage of American Vogue’s previous editor in chief, Diana Vreeland. It was in 1972 the MET added Vreeland as a special consultant.
The former Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland was described as “the ultimate storyteller,” says Lisa Immordino Vreeland, director of the documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel. It was she who began the extensive curation of gowns from private collectors and the creation of extravagant sets which linked the past to the present.
“We realized that if you just showed the Marie Antoinette dress, no one would come,” Koda says, a curator for the ball since 1989, “By comparing it to something contemporary and familiar, it makes the [Marie Antoinette dress] more relevant.”
Through her years at the MET, Vreeland spotlighted fashion in society from retrospectives on legendary designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga to the costumes of the Russian Ballets Russes. It was Vreeland who managed to make fashion exciting to the general public.
Why is there a theme?
The theme is meant to set the tone for the annual exhibition. Last year’s theme China: Through the Looking Glass (2015), presented by the current chairwoman and American Vogue chief editor Anna Wintour, is still one of the most talked about events in MET Gala history.
What happens in a night?
If you happen to be one of the 600 hand-selected invitees or you purchase one of the select few Prius tickets at $30,000 a pop, you will enjoy some hors d’oeuvres and listen to MET Director Thomas Campbell’s annual speech.
Gwyneth Paltrow once famously described the event as “un-fun” saying it’s hot and boring and crowded, and…that’s about it. “It was so un-fun. It was boiling. It was too crowded. I did not enjoy it at all,” Gwyneth Paltrow told USA Today in 2013.
Let’s face it, you have to love fashion to want to go inside the MET Gala. After the red carpet it’s all shop talk and checkbooks. Oh, and of course there are the clothes…
Today, The Met held a press preview for The #CostumeInstitute exhibition “#ManusxMachina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” on view to the public from May 5 through August 14. Presented in the Museum’s Robert Lehman Wing, the exhibition explores how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear. This view features one of the highlights of the exhibition: Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel wedding ensemble, a perfect melding of hand and machine and one of curator Andrew Bolton’s inspirations for the show. #TheMet #MetGala
Why are there honorary chair roles?
Each year the event has a honorary event day “celebrity” chairperson. As far as we can tell this is fashion’s version of People magazine’s sexiest person alive winner. Past recipients have been Bradley Douglas Cooper and heiress, Aerin Lauder. This year’s honorary chairpersons are Taylor Swift and Idris Elba.
So what do you think? Is it everything you expected or were you hoping for more?