Arts & Reviews

The History of the Met Gala

By: Maryellen Kane


Each year on the first Monday of May, Vogue hosts the highly acclaimed Met Gala. Every year has a unique theme, and hundreds of celebrities attend the Met Gala to show off their new and exciting outfits. Before it became known as “fashion’s biggest night out” (Vogue), the event served a vastly different purpose than it is known for today. In light of the most recent Met ball on May 2nd, 2022, the event’s history and true meaning are much deeper than the surface-level fashion show plastered across social media platforms for days following the event. 


The Met Gala event was originally named the Costume Institute Benefit in 1948 by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. Lambert proposed the idea of this event in an attempt to raise money for the Met’s newly formed Costume Institute. In the early 1970s, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Diana Vreeland transformed the event into what it is known as today. Current Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour evolved the Met Gala even further. She established the date of being the first Monday in May and expanded the guest list to include influential people in fashion, entertainment, and politics who were known for pushing the boundaries (Vogue). Attending the Met is no easy feat. Tickets cost roughly $30,000, and it can cost as much as $275,000 for a table at the event. All money does go directly to the Costume Institute, which is greatly needed since the Institute is the only department of the Met that needs to find its funding. This lack of funding is because it was originally unclear as to whether or not fashion would be considered an art form (New York Times). Because of the high price and overall value of the party itself, attending the Met Gala is a high honor for celebrities. 

As mentioned, each year the Met Gala has a theme on which the attendees are supposed to base their outfits. Major designers like Versace and Gucci work with celebrities for months leading up to the event in hopes that their outfits are the best of them all. This year’s theme was “In America: An Anthology of Fashion ”the dress code described as “gilded glamor and white tie” (Vogue). Some other iconic themes include 1977— “Romantic and Glamorous and Hollywood Design”, 1981—”The Eighteenth Century Woman”, 1999—”Rock Style,”  2018—”Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” and many others known for their outlandish fashion choices by top celebrities of the time (Harper’s Bazaar). Celebrities like Bianca Jagger, Cher, Naomi Cambell, Princess Diana, Beyonce, Rihanna, and more are celebrated for having shown off some of the best looks of their respective years (Vogue).


Rating fashion looks at the Met Gala and whether or not they fit the theme of the year is a topic of significant discussion on social media in the days following the ball. Many celebrities take the opportunity of being at the Met Gala to push the boundaries of their typical fashion styles. Some even decide to have multiple outfits, as seen with Lady Gaga at the 2019 “Camp: Notes on Fashion” themed Gala (Vogue). People often debate on whether or not they believe celebrities’ Met Gala looks to be following the theme, but most attendees see the Met Gala as a chance to go outside of their fashion comfort zone and do something unexpected. The annual Met Gala is one of the biggest days in fashion and is always highly anticipated by attendees and lovers of fashion. The event symbolizes more than just the crazy fashion, however, which is celebrated by Vogue and the Met. 

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