The Met Gala: What Is It, and Why It’s a Big Deal

Stars donned in fashionable outfits attend the 2021 Met Gala.

via Wikimedia Commons

Stars donned in fashionable outfits attend the 2021 Met Gala.

A fundraising event for the annual fashion exhibit organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, the Met Gala is what is referred to as Oscar Night in the fashion world. This year, the Met Gala was held on September 13th. Due to the postponement of last year’s event, the 2021 Met Gala was more exclusive than ever before. 

  The Met Gala was founded and organized by Eleanor Lambert, a CFDA founder and fashion publicist, in 1948. The event wasn’t held at the Metropolitan Museum, but instead at venues like the Waldorf Astoria, Central Park, and the Rainbow Room until 1971. During the 1970s, this event grew to be more detailed, following the involvement of Diana Vreeland, a special consultant to the Costume Institute in 1973, and Pat Buckley, a socialite who later became chairwoman in 1978. Following her leaving Vogue, Vreeland joined the event committee, and a group of her friends helped to raise money to fund her salary for the first two years. Due to Vreeland’s arrival to the committee, the Met Gala transformed from a typical event to a unique and distinctive party. It was Vreeland’s idea to make the yearly party consist of a specific theme, now a staple and critical aspect of the Met Gala. Her first exhibition that she hosted is known as “The World of Balenciaga.” Diana Vreeland helped to assemble 14 years of the occasion until her death in 1989. The exhibitions she created brought in more donations and record crowds, reviving the Costume Institute.

In 1999, the role of chairperson was taken over by Anna Wintour, who moved the month of the Gala from December to April, and delivered the resources and importance of Vogue to the Met Gala. Andrew Bolton later joined the Costume Institute in 2002, and the quality level of the intricate displays and collaborations rose due to his work, alongside the help of Harold Koda. It was Bolton’s exhibition “China: Through the Looking Glass”  that became the fifth most popular show in the history of the museum, with 815,992 visitors attending. Because of Anna Wintour’s dedication, celebrities started to attend this extravagant event yearly, such as designers, models, Hollywood stars, singers, athletes, artists, and many others.

This year, the Met Gala was held on September 13th, with the theme being “American Independence ”. Split into two parts, the first part of the exhibit, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” will be presented at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Met Gala. The second part, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion”, on the other hand, will be open to the public on May 5, 2022.