Awards season and all its fantastic gowns seem far behind us now, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to look forward to. In fact, arguably the most important event on the fashion calendar is still to come, and it’s fast approaching.
The Met Gala will bring some of the most famous people on the planet to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It’s far from your average red carpet event: It comes with a different theme every year and the outfits are usually very experimental.
Last year saw all manner of religious iconography and bejewelled gowns, so what can we expect from this year’s event?
When is it?
The Met Gala always takes place on the first Monday in May – this year, it falls on May 6. It is held at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and most of the photographs will take place on the iconic steps outside the museum. This is where we can ogle all of the outrageous outfits, but once the celebs go inside, pictures are heavily restricted.
The Costume Institute Gala – as it’s officially known – isn’t just a fashion show. Established in 1948, it started life as a fundraising event encouraging high society to donate to the museum. Now, it’s still a fundraising event (Fortune reports entry is $30,000 – or £23,000 – per person), but high society has been replaced by famous actors and musicians. The gala also marks the opening of the museum’s latest exhibition: Camp: Notes On Fashion.
The red carpet action will kick off from around 7pm New York time, which is midnight for those who want to stay up in Ireland. If not, you can always just make the trip to America and see the exhibition, which runs from May 9 to September 8.
What was worn last year?
Last year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. Compared to some of the previous themes (particularly the year dedicated to Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo), this was a particularly easy one for celebs to dress for, and there was a lot of OTT and gold-heavy outfits with crosses embossed onto gowns.
Highlights included co-chair Rihanna dressed as the Pope, Cardi B and Blake Lively’s equally ornate outfits, Gigi Hadid dressed in a stained glass window-inspired gown and J Lo’s Balmain dress with a giant cross on it.
What can we expect from this year’s theme?
Last year was all about ornate, irreverent dressing. And this year should be just as irreverent – but in a totally different way.
The exhibition is called Camp: Notes On Fashion, inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, "Notes on ‘Camp'". Andrew Bolton, a curator at the Costume Institute who is in charge of the exhibition, tells Vogue that in the context of Sontag’s essay, campness is a "love of the unnatural: Of artifice and exaggeration… style at the expense of content".
So we can definitely expect a lot of a lot – we’re talking big bows, lots of sparkles, and absolutely nothing muted or demure. Bolton cites Virgil Abloh’s black dress embossed with the words "Little Black Dress" in quotation marks as the perfect example.
Who’s chairing the event?
Vogue editor Anna Wintour always co-chairs, and this year will be joined by Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles and Serena Williams.
Gaga and Styles are particularly well-suited to the theme – both have become well-known for donning outlandish outfits and experimenting with gender-bending styles. Co-chairs typically put the most effort into their outfits, so we can’t wait to see what this lot wear.
Will there be any surprises?
This is the Met Gala – the outfits are always likely to invoke shock and awe, and we’re definitely in for a treat if Lady Gaga is going to be centre stage.
However, the rumour mill is churning and it’s being said some major designers won’t be appearing at the event, including Dior and Ralph Lauren. The way the gala works is, a designer takes a group of celebrities as their guest, buying a table and dressing them in their own designs, so it really will be a conspicuous absence if true.
What we can rely on is a whole lot of Gucci. Not only is creative director Alessandro Michele co-chairing the event, but curator Bolton says he "perfectly expresses what camp truly means to me: The unique ability of combining high art and pop culture" – undoubtedly a lot of celebs will be dressed head-to-toe in his designs.
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