THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY // HISTORY OF THE MET GALA


The Met Gala is traditionally held on the first Monday in May each year to celebrate the opening of the Costume Institute's annual exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of the ticket sales go towards the funding of the Costume Institute, raising a record breaking $15 million in 2019. Not only is it one of the biggest charitable events in New York, it is also a pop culture spectacle that is often talked about for weeks, months, and sometimes even years to come.



It is a chance for designers to display their custom creations on the world's most recognizable faces and celebrate the union between fine art and fashion in a major way. The designers and attendees are required to follow the theme of the exhibition that year, which often results in the most high fashion, dramatic, controversial, and sometimes meme-worthy red carpet moments imaginable - especially in the past decade. Notable past themes have been retrospectives of designers such as Gianni Versace, Christian Dior, and Alexander McQueen - as well as honoring the many unconventional influences on fashion.  

Even though there is no Met Gala this year, I thought this would be the perfect time to share the history and importance of the event! The opening of this year's exhibit is now delayed until the end of October but the theme is coincidentally titled "About Time" and is honoring the 150th Anniversary of The Met. According to Vogue it will display “how fashion has changed in the last 150 years, how it’s stayed the same—and where it’s headed next."

The Met Gala was founded by Elanor Lambert, CFDA founder and a fashion publicist, in 1948 as a way to raise money for their newly established Costume Institute and celebrate the opening of the new exhibit. Before it was officially called The Met Gala, it was referred to as "The Party of the Year" and was a formal midnight dinner. At that time, tickets to attend cost $50 per person, whereas now it costs tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars to attend! It was held typically in December at various NYC venues such as the Rainbow Room, the Waldorf Astoria and Central Park. For the first few decades, this wasn't a major event and was viewed as one of many fundraisers held for New York's elite each year.


Diana Vreeland in 1973

Temple of Dendur
It wasn't until 1973 when Diana Vreeland, former editor-in-chief for Vogue and consultant for the Costume Institute, turned it into a glamorous event with attendance exclusive to only a select few. She was the first to establish a connection to the new exhibit and the theme of the night. It was also held for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum in 1973 and honored the opening of the retrospective of Cristobal Balenciaga, titled "The World of Balenciaga". Much like it is today, the guests would have cocktails in the Great Hall once they arrive, see the new exhibit in the basement, and have dinner in the museum's restaurant / cafeteria. Dorothy Draper designed the cafeteria with reflective pools, faceless mannequins, bird-cage chandeliers and blaring music. After the dinner was over, the party would continue at the Temple of Dendur exhibit at the museum. "Dessert tickets" were sold for $100 to local college students to attend this portion of the event.

During this time, Vreeland began to invite more than just political figures and New York socialites to the event and embraced figures in popular culture like Cher, Andy Warhol and Diana Ross.


Cher in 1974

https://melissakacar.blogspot.com/2019/02/andy-warhol-from-to-b-and-back-again.html
Andy Warhol
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis & Sir Hugh Grant in 1979

Diana Vreeland continued to work at The Met until her death in 1989 and put together 14 stunning exhibitions, raised millions of dollars, and revived the Costume Institute. In 1993, the Costume Institute even made an exhibition to honor her life and style.


Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley, former editor at Vogue
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief for Vogue, became the host and co-chair for the event in 1995 and continues to do so to this day. She further elevated the event by bringing the extensive resources available at Vogue into the planning event and exhibitions. Even though a team of curators puts together the themes and the exhibits, Anna Wintour has the final say on all decisions. In 2002, The Met began to incorporate various areas of the permanent collections into the exhibition which elevated the guest's immersion into the overall experience.

Wintour puts together the exclusive guestlist each year and has invited celebrities, politicians, models, athletes, and even YouTubers in recent years. About 600-700 people attend the event each year. She is also joined each year by a handful of celebrity co-hosts, which in one way or another further elevate the planning of the event.



Co-hosts in 2019 - (left to right) Serena Williams, Harry Styles, Alessandro Michele, Lady Gaga & Anna Wintour

As I said earlier, the Met Gala is always one of the most talked about events of the past decade especially and has been known to create some of the most iconic fashion moments year after year. Below I included some of my personal favorite red carpet moments from The Met Gala, mainly focusing on the years that Anna Wintour was the co-chair - since during her time there, she truly elevated into something so much bigger than just another red carpet.

Naomi Campbell // 1995

Kate Moss // 1995

Princess Diana // 1996


Salma Hayek // 1997 


Gianni & Donatella Versace // 1997


Whitney Houston // 1999


Liv Tyler & Stella McCartney // 1999


Nicole Kidman // 2003


Diana Ross // 2003

Linda Evangelista // 2004


Amber Valetta // 2004


Karolina Kurkova // 2005


Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen // 2006


Bee Shaffer // 2008 

Anne Hathaway // 2010

Lana Del Rey // 2012


Kim Kardashian & Kanye West // 2013


Sarah Jessica Parker // 2013

David & Victoria Beckham // 2014


Rihanna // 2015


Fan Bingbing // 2015


Solange // 2015


Beyoncé // 2016


Gigi Hadid & Zayn Malik // 2016


Lupita Nyongo // 2016


Selena Gomez // 2016


Taylor Swift // 2016


Kim Kardashian & Kanye West // 2016 


Kylie Jenner // 2016 


Claire Danes // 2016


Bella Hadid // 2017


Katy Perry // 2017


Rihanna // 2017


Kim Kardashian // 2018


Rihanna // 2018


Zendaya // 2018


Ariana Grande // 2018


Blake Lively // 2018


Lilly Collins // 2018


Gigi Hadid // 2018


Katy Perry // 2019


Jared Leto // 2019

Ezra Miller


Kim Kardashian // 2019


Gigi Hadid // 2019


Harry Styles // 2019


Cardi B // 2019 


Kendall & Kylie Jenner // 2019


Lady Gaga // 2019


If you ever get the chance to visit The Met, you won't regret it! It's an incredible museum that I have explored for hours and hours and still haven't been able to see everything it has to offer. I absolutely love the Costume Institute's exhibitions and look forward to seeing them every year. I went for the first time in 2018 to the main branch of the museum and the Cloisters to see the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination and was blown away by every design and artifact on display. I went again last year in 2019 to see the Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibit, which was one of the best exhibitions I've ever seen. The curation of each exhibit is impeccable and an overall breathtaking experience, especially if you love to see archived pieces of fashion history. I'm looking forward to seeing the 2020 exhibit once it hopefully opens in the fall! 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post & leave your thoughts in the comment section below! ♡

-Melissa ♡


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