Fashion’s biggest event of the year is undoubtedly the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s charity event, or as everyone knows it, the Met Gala. The evening was an extension of last September’s “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” dress code, the “Gilded Glamour” concept was actually meant to evoke the golden age of American social life, the second half of the 19th century.
Although it is now considered one of the biggest events in pop culture, the Oscars on the East Coast were not always the evening of superstars and dramatic costumes that they are today. Originally founded in 1948 by fashion guru Eleanor Lambert, the charity night was first a one-night-only dinner with a $50 admission. The event gained momentum when Costume Institute consultant Diana Vreeland was brought in to change the Met Gala venue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and add gala themes. And it was she who was open to pop culture and celebrities. The guest list got more and more interesting: Andy Warhol, Diana Ross, and Cher lined up alongside socialites and politicians such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Henry Kissinger.
Over the decades, the event has evolved from an annual fundraiser for the fashion industry and New York society to a cultural phenomenon that attracts attention worldwide. It is an exclusive celebration where fashion designers get the chance to showcase their most spectacular work on the world stage – and all for a noble cause. Tickets cost $35,000 today, with a table costing up to $300,000 for those who want to attend.
This year’s event was hosted by Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Regina King, and they were joined by honorary co-chairs Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and Adam Mosseri. In addition, almost 400 celebrities from the worlds of fashion, music, film and sport were in attendance. Of course, there were the Kardashian/Jenner clan, who walked the red carpet together for the first time. Kim Kardashian lost seven kilos to fit into what is perhaps Marilyn Monroe’s most iconic gown. She chose the multi-million-dollar piece for the Met that the movie star wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr President”. She wore the fragile gown only when she walked up the grand staircase of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and later in the evening, she replaced it with a replica. But the queens of the hip-hop world, Card B, Nicki Minaj, and Megan Thee Stallion, perhaps not coincidentally, arrived at separate times. Of the three, Cardi B was the most memorable, but still the most sophisticated, appearing dressed as a golden goddess alongside Donatella Versace. The design house estimates that a kilometre of the gold-coloured metal chain was used for the piece, which took 1,300 hours to complete. And, of course, some people prefer to be mystifying rather than glamorous. Jared Leto and Gucci are masters at this: who could forget the dress he wore to the 2019 “camp” themed evening, adorned with a wax replica of his own head? The actor and Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director and, incidentally, Leto’s close friend, wore the exact same outfit: a cream tuxedo with sparkling floral embroidery, a crisp white shirt, a red satin bow tie, leather gloves and hippy long hair. And British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed approached the Golden Age from a completely different perspective: the 4SDESIGNS dress is about celebrating the people who were behind the scenes, but without whom we could not talk about the Golden Age: the migrant workers who came to America.