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What is the Met Gala?

Why is it held and who attends the prestigious event?

Last Updated on January 16, 2023

All the celebrities from Rihanna to Gemma Chan and the Kardashian-Jenners attend the Met Gala, decked in extravagant designer ball gowns and dresses — sometimes wearing headpieces, other times wings.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 70 years, you’ll have seen these iconic looks one way or another.

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Dubbed the ‘party of the year,’ the gathering attracts the eyeballs of fashion lovers from all over the globe who can’t wait to get a glimpse of the stars wearing their beautiful couture gowns. But what actually is the Met Gala and why does it take place?

Let’s take a closer look.

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What is the Met Gala?

The Met Gala, also labelled the Met Ball, was previously referred to as the Costume Institute Gala or Costume Institute Benefit.

It was first held in 1948 to raise funds for the then-newly founded Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and signal the launch of the institute’s annual exhibit. The museum is formally named The Anna Wintour Costume Center, after American Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, who is a long-running chair member of the gala since 1995. 73 years later, the event continues to raise money for the museum.

Every year Vogue sets a theme for the exhibition and event, which inspires the guests outfits. In 2021, the theme was In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, while 2022’s theme was In America: An Anthology of Fashion.

What is the Met Gala theme for 2023?

Just like the 2011 Met Gala which paid tribute to the late Alexander McQueen, this year will pay homage to Karl Lagerfeld and his impact on fashion. The exhibit titled Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty will showcase Lagerfeld’s career spanning seven decades, starting from his first designs in the 1950s to his last designs before his passing in 2019.

This exhibition will be an immersive experience that will allow visitors to understand Lagerfeld’s unique style and aesthetic, featuring 150 of his designs from his tenure as creative director at Chanel, Chloé, Fendi and his eponymous label, Lagerfeld.

The dress code has yet to be announced, but we can expect it to take inspiration from Lagerfeld’s iconic designs.

Who gets to go?

The party raises funds through the sale of tables or seats. Think of it as a ticket to be able to party with the creme de la creme of high society in your best dress – but you need an actual one to attend the event.

So how much is a ticket, you ask? Well, it will cost you $30,000, more or less. The catch is, even if you can afford the eye-watering cost, there’s no guarantee that you can actually attend the event. Anna Wintour has the final say on who gets to be there.

While we sadly can’t be there to find out what happens after the red carpet entrances — guests have been prohibited from posting on social media at the event since 2018 — we can still marvel at the wondrous displays of couture on our TVs, laptops and phone screens.

Madonna at the Met Gala

From live coverage to outfit round-ups, the fashion scene is always in a frenzy on the day of the ball, so you can feel like you were there (in spirit).

‘Leaked’ seating charts for Met Gala 2021 caused quite a stir online. Many shared their dismay over the idea of influencers including TikTok star Addison Rae and YouTuber James Charles attending the fashion event.

The good news is the charts turned out to be fake. There is still no official guest list. However, you can already expect singer Dua Lipa to sit this year’s festivities out. Lipa has confirmed that she will not be attending this year’s gala because of a film commitment.

When is it held?

The Met Gala is usually held on the first Monday of May every year, but the 2021 event took place on September 13 after multiple cancellations.

This year’s event has returned to its usual slot and will happen on May 1.

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Who hosts the Met Gala?

Last year, Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Lin-Manuel Miranda co-hosted the Met Gala and this year the hosts are yet to be announced.

In the In Vogue: The 2000s podcast, Anna Wintour explained more about the selection process.

“We try to choose people we think are very much of the cultural moment,” she says. “We try to think about who makes sense in terms of the exhibition theme. We also try to invite people who we think will enjoy it and we think will make an effort and go there and have fun and really feel they’re hosting along with myself and whoever the sponsors may be.”

Gigi Hadid at the Met Gala

What do celebrities do inside the Met Gala?

So, what do they do after serving some looks on the red carpet? Well, according to someone who worked at Met, the guests eat dinner, have some drinks, and look around the museum.

The Met Gala gives its attendees an exclusive first look at the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit and then they can go about their night as they, please. However, they still need to follow Anna Wintour’s strict rules at the gala.

This includes no smoking and no taking photos inside the gala—including bathroom selfies. In 2017, a few donors told Page Six that they found it insulting to see celebrities smoking and taking photos in the bathroom.

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