Fashion’s buzziest night is set to finally return.
Traditionally held on the first Monday in May, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute throws the red carpet to end red carpets, marking the opening of its hotly anticipated, yearly fashion exhibition. Funds in the eight figure mark are raised for fashion at the museum – in 2019 the bar was set at a record $15 million (£12 million).
Here’s what we know about this year’s event.
How did the Met Gala start?
The society staple began as a dinner in 1948, founded by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. But it was late US Vogue Editor and grand dame of eccentricity Diana Vreeland who propelled it into the realm of celebrity and popular culture in which it remains under the current leadership of Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Editor-In Chief and Global Chief Content Officer for Condé Nast who has held the reins since 1995.
When is the 2021 Met Gala set to take place?
Thanks to the pandemic, this year’s edition is a little different. The event’s usual May date, which would have been Monday 3rd this year, was missed. Instead, a scaled down celebration will take place on Monday 13th September, which comes at the close of New York Fashion Week.
What is this year’s Met Gala theme?
The Costume Institute’s exhibition this year is split in two – and it’s all American. The first, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, will take a closer look at the new wave of US designers. So far we know this includes the likes of Christopher John Rogers, the man behind Kamala Harris’ inauguration outfit; Pyer Moss, who made history in July as the first Black American to show during Paris’ Haute Couture Week; and Conner Ives, a 2020 graduate from London’s Central Saint Martins. The second will consider inclusivity, looking critically at garments in the Museum’s period rooms with regard to race and gender – asking the question, ‘who gets to be American?’
“I think that the emphasis on conscious creativity was really consolidated during the pandemic and the social justice movements,” Andrew Bolton, Head Curator at the Museum’s Costume Institute, told Vogue. “I think young designers, in particular, are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency.”
What will the guests be wearing?
‘American Independence’ is the official dress code printed on invitations. How attendees will interpret this is, as ever, unpredictable – but there is little doubt the US set will dominate. The likes of Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne and Jeremey Scott at Moschino have proved themselves more than capable at producing spectacles for the event. Could Katy Perry, who has been known to sport full length angel wings (not to mention a whole chandelier) come as Fourth of July fireworks? Will Wintour go custom blue-green and embody Lady Liberty?
Given the exhibit’s aim to look forwards, there may be gaps for newer designers too. Daniel Roseberry, who has been Creative Director of Schiaparelli for four seasons, is booming with his surrealist statements, while Telfar Clemens, who founded Telfar, is sure leader of innovative American design today.
When was the last Met Gala?
The event comes after a hiatus of more than two years. Last year’s gala for the About Time: Fashion and Duration exhibition was officially cancelled on May 19, 2020. While the exhibit opened eventually, the Gala never went ahead, meaning the candy pink carpet of 2019’s blockbuster Camp: Notes on Fashion was the most recent soirée. The stairs of the Met became a stage for the likes of Lady Gaga, who arrived in fuchsia pink parachute dress before peeling off layers to reveal a grand total of four Brandon Maxwell looks, and Billy Porter, the Pose star, who came gilded in gold as the Sun God atop the shoulders of six topless men.
Who are this year’s hosts?
Each year the Gala is hosted by a group at the top of the cultural zeitgeist. This year Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, poet laureate Amanda Gorman, and tennis star Naomi Osaka make up an indomitable quartet, spanning the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics. The honorary chairs are to be Tom Ford, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, and Wintour herself.
Who will be there?
Playing into the trademark exclusivity which surrounds the evening, we will not know who’s invited until the night. A selection of tickets are available for purchase, priced at approximately $30,000 (£24,000), with tables at around $275,000 (£215,000), but the majority will need to secure a spot on the guest list.
While specific names won’t be released, the Met set does some recurring figures; the likes of Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica-Parker and Katy Perry.
But there’s one figure known to steal the show – Rihanna. Whether in the vast-trained, golden gown worn to 2015’s China: Through the Looking Glass Gala, or the structural masterpiece Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between in 2017, she is the focal point. The Gala goddess was a notable absentee in 2019, however. Will this be her post pandemic return? The countdown to find out is on.
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