NEW YORK: Fashion’s biggest night of the year, the Met Gala, returns to its usual place on the social calendar this year following the upheaval of the pandemic. And if this sounds like one of those times, already, it is.
Just under eight months have passed since the last gala, an annual fundraiser that raises eight-figure sums for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before the pandemic, around 600 A-listers from fashion, sports, music, film, TV, tech and beyond were invited. This year and last, the numbers were closer to 400. The 2020 gala has been cancelled.
Over $16.4 million was raised last year. The star-studded event is the main source of the institute’s budget.
This year’s gala coincides with the opening of the second part of a two-part exhibition at the Costume Institute focusing on American fashion and style. The dress code for the evening is gold glamor and white tie, à la Gilded Age, that tumultuous period between the Civil War and the early 20th century known for its robber barons, drama and grandeur.
This year’s climb of the Met’s Grand Staircase brings the gala back to its legendary spot on the first Monday in May, with the official live stream on Vogue’s website.
Vogue’s Anna Wintour has led the gala since 1995. She continues to be one of the evening’s honorary co-chairs, alongside designer Tom Ford and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri. The official co-chairs for 2022 are Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The cost of a place at last year’s Met Gala started at $35,000, although some attend for free. Celebrities are sometimes accompanied (and their tabs paid for) by the designers who dress them or other companies who invite them. This year, the focus on inclusive fashion could celebrate and include more unsung designer heroes than usual.
The event is the brainchild of the late Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publicist as powerful as Wintour in her day. In 1948, she needed to find a way to pay for the fledgling Costume Institute, the only department at the Met that was to raise its own funds.
While many on Wintour’s carefully curated guest list follow the dress code, others go their own way. Interpretation is everything. Think Rihanna in a papal hat, Billy Porter as a sun god carried on a litter by shirtless men and Lady Gaga peeling off diapers as the fashion world stopped to watch.
The gala also serves as a twisted love-gone-wrong time capsule for unsuccessful celebrity couples. Kim Kardashian and Ye, former Kanye West, first attended in 2013. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes went in 2008. Jennifer Lopez attended with Marc Anthony in 2011, then with Alex Rodriguez in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Ben Affleck joined her indoors last a year after walking alone.
Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were among the “it” couples invited in 2014. Selena Gomez and The Weeknd showed up together in 2017.