It’s known as the fashion world’s Oscars, but it’s a lot more than just a red carpet event.
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The Met Gala is more than just the fashion world’s version of the Academy Awards. The annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute brings together the biggest names in entertainment, fashion and politics for one night of revelry.
Take the world’s biggest celebrities, dress them in couture and stick them in a room together, and sparks are bound to fly. President Trump proposed to Melania during the event in 2004, and Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston’s romance was borne of their Met Gala dance-off in 2016. Historically, guests are also supposed to dress in the fashions of the event’s honored designer, a tradition that often turns controversial.
Before the stars descend on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC on Monday night, learn more about the annual event.
What is the Met Gala?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit informally called the Met Gala or the Met Ball, is a black-tie fundraiser for the museum’s Costume Institute. The event also celebrates the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit.
The Costume Institute is housed in the museum’s Anna Wintour Costume Center, named after the Vogue editor-in-chief. Wintour has served as the Met Gala co-chair nearly every year since 1995.
This year’s theme
Opening this month, the Costume Institute’s new exhibit honors the work of Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo. The Costume Institute’s choice of honoree often sets the tone for the Met Gala, with attendees expected to match the exhibit’s theme with their own fashion choices for the evening.
This year, party-goers are encouraged to honor the bold, architectural designs of Kawakubo, who is the first living designer to be honored by the Costume Institute since Yves Saint Laurent in 1983.
The exhibition, which runs from May 4 to September 4, will feature 100+ of Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons womenswear designs, dating back to her first Paris runway show in 1981.
The celebrity hosts
Every year since Anna Wintour’s first year as Met Gala chair in 1995, the event has also featured honorary hosts from the worlds of entertainment and fashion.
Along with Wintour, this year’s co-chairs are Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, with Kawakubo also serving as honorary chair.
Ahead of the gala, Perry also appeared on the May cover of Vogue, honoring Kawakubo in a dedicated Comme des Garçons spread.
The star-studded guest list
Only Hollywood’s biggest award shows boast guest lists that rival that of the invitation-only Met Gala. Wintour has final say over every attendee, and celebrities from A-list entertainers to political heavyweights mingle together at the event.
While 2016’s Manus x Machina gala hosted stars including Beyoncé and Jay Z, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and the entire Kardashian clan, a spokesperson for the museum told The New York Times that the guest list for this year’s event is expected to be slightly smaller.
Who is Rei Kawakubo?
Kawakubo, a 74-year-old Japanese designer who founded Comme des Garçons in 1969, is only the second living designer honored by the Costume Institute, along with Saint Laurent.
“Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years,” said Costume Institute curator in charge Andrew Bolton in a press release. “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time.”
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