The Met Gala: What? Why? Who?
Everything You Need to Know About The Most Glamourous Event – The Met Gala
The Costume Institute Gala is one of the most anticipated events in the fashion world. It is also compared to a fashion Oscar, only unlike the most important cinema award, Met Gala doesn’t give awards, so the comparison is some kind of wrong. Every year, on the first Monday of May, the A-list celebrity star-fall floods up the red carpet, who was honoured to receive an invitation to pay a visit to the most glamorous and prestigious party of the year destined to support creativity and innovations in the fashion industry. Exactly at the Met Gala the guests of status – those affluent, beautiful and famous – have an opportunity to express their creativity (I mean, a creativity of their stylists) and extravagance, skills to decrypt codes of the annual event theme and ability to interpret it in their own inimitable and unique manner. Besides, this is the greatest chance to be in the limelight, outshine everybody by a ludicrous outfit and make others talk about you already for a long time.
Many consider the annual Met Gala just as a spectacular secular event, where almost everyone wants to get an invitation to, but not each is rewarded by such a privilege. In fact, The Met Gala is a charity dinner, which will be held this year for the 71st time and means a lot for the fashion industry, reflecting the latest trends, culture phenomena and art, often finding its best interpretations throughout fashion and clothes.
But first thing first.
Why Met Gala is named so?
For the last fifty-nine years, the gala evening takes place in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The American Costume Institute is located there since 1948 – today it bears the name of Anna Wintour – founded in 1937 by philanthropist, Irene Lewisohn. In 1946, in order to raise funds for the work of the institute, the first charity dinner was hosted there with the assistance of journalist and New York Fashion Week and Council of Fashion Designers of America founder, Eleanor Lambert. But, in fact, the event wasn’t held in the museum itself for a long time – on the other venues: in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, in the popular night club Rainbow Room, and even in the Central Park. Only in 1960, the gala was first held in the Metropolitan Museum Grand Hall.
Who is responsible for the Met Gala theme?
The Met Gala dress-code repeats a theme of the annual exhibition, which starts on the first Monday of May. Strictly speaking, Met Gala celebrates its grand opening collecting celebrities, designers and stylist on the red carpet and giving them an opportunity to boost their creativity and vision on a determine theme. The beginning of this tradition was laid in 1974 when Diana Vreeland had already become a hostess of the gala.
Andrew Bolton, an irreplaceable Costume Institute curator is in charge of all exhibition themes. He carefully chooses all the exhibits and personally controls its placement in the halls. As Bolton explains, the Costume Institute always tries to pick the most actual theme that anticipates a big trend and the birth of the new cultural phenomenon.
This year’s Met Gala theme repeats the name of the exhibition: «Camp: Notes on Fashion». But don’t even start thinking about a country camp romance, sleeping bags and tents – «camp» is a term first used by Susan Sontag in her essay of 1964, defining a camp as «love to unnatural: to art and to exaggeration.»
«Sontag in her essay said not everything is camp, but since I have been working on the show, I have started to think it is everywhere, and that all fashion is on some level camp,» Bolton said. «It has gained such currency it has become invisible, and part of my goal is to make it visible again.»
Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, told the New York Times: «Camp really means the unique ability to combine high art and pop culture; it is not kitsch.»
Can an ordinary mortal buy a ticket to Met Gala?
Theoretically, yes. If at the beginning of the Met Gala existing there was a possibility to purchase a ticket for ridiculous $50, today, as The New York Times affirms, the initial price is up to 275,000 dollars per table. The VIP-concierge-services are in charge of selling tickets, all money is transferred to the Costume Institute bank account. You may enter the ball for free, but it’s highly demanded to have a status of A-list celebrity (and don’t mind to make a decent donation). Some of the emergent designers and their brands’ employees do have the opportunity to get to the big party by getting a discount ticket – an attraction of unprecedented generosity.
But if you are a person somewhere «from the street» or «from the side», the purchased ticket doesn’t guarantee your presence in the ball at all. Anna Wintour, an irreplaceable host of the ball since 1995, meticulously watches the list of invited guests and either can tag a person in the list, or cross his name out with no explanation of this reason. In addition, fan age limit restrictions came to action since last year: all the underage guest are welcomed only accompanied by adults – no matter if you are Kaia Gerber or Millie Bobby Brown.
What celebrity usually do there (besides posing in front of cameras)?
It all starts with a cocktail party: guests come out on the red carpet, pose to photographers and do small-talks to each other. After the most exciting part ending, they are tour guided around the whole exhibition itself, and later, when an official part is finally over, they are invited to accommodate at the table. Menu, generally, reflects the theme of the evening, meanwhile, all the dishes are cooked by cooks of the most prestigious New York catering services. Last year, Olivier Cheng Catering and Events had a responsibility to serve the dinner at Met – a company that usually serves events at Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Tom Ford.
Since the exhibition – and the ball itself – was dedicated to the theme of interaction between fashion and religion, a chef, Jenny Glasgow, used recipes of Catholic church and monastic cuisine as a base of the menu: celebrities were pleased to delight lamb chops with fresh mint and almond pesto serves served to the table. Lobster, which was decorated with edible «gilt», reminding of the vestments of dignitaries, became a main course of the evening – in order to achieve this effect, cooks mixed together with lemon juice, acacia honey and olive oil. Plates served with lobsters were sprinkled by real 23-carat gold. And very curious to discover how cooks are going to interpret the camp theme – every single detail is hidden behind seven locks.
And how can we imagine a huge party without high-level entertainment? As it usually happens, guests expect to see a live performance of one of the co-coordinators of the ball. Every year, this honorary position gets a new celebrity – Lady Gaga and Harry Styles will perform this year, meanwhile, Rihanna and Madonna were the previous ones who were honoured to host Met Gala along with Anna Wintour.
Have some scandals ever happened at the Met Gala?
It might seem surprising, but for 70 years of existing, the ball reputation has never been seriously demeaned. Though some celebrities were capable enough to get stuck in the small, yet unpleasant situations. In 2014, an infamous fight between Jay Z and Solange happened in the elevator of the Met Gala. In 2016, several celebrities were caught with the goods, smoking in the museum toilet – the faces of the guilty ones are well-known: Bella Hadid, Marc Jacobs and Dakota Johnson.
Not every celebrity is excited to become a special guest at the ball. In 2015, Tina Fey speaking to David Letterman’s interview called Met Gala a «jerk parade». Amy Schumer shared the same style of her impression by the event – on the Howard Stern show, she said: «It’s people doing an impression of having a conversation … I don’t like a farce. We’re dressed up like a bunch of f—king a–holes.» But the first who joined the camp of sceptics became Gwyneth Paltrow: yet in 2013 she confessed, she was getting bored at the gala and there were too many people around her.
There are many accusations following eccentric guests outfits. In 2015 – when China was claimed as an official ball theme – most of the guested were accused in a cultural appropriation. In particular, Sarah Jessica Parker became the first and foremost scapegoat, attending Met Gala in a Philip Treacy headdress very similar to stiff flames. Society reproaches Parker in enshrining stereotypes of the «dragon-ladies» – in the West people sometimes call Asian women hinting this way about their supposedly cruel character.