The Met Gala is the biggest and most extravagant fashion event in the world, with Hollywood stars, designers, models and more coming together to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
This is everything you need to know - and how you can watch it live in the UK for the first time.
What is the Met Gala?
The Met Gala is to fashion what the Oscars is to the film industry, and is organised by fashion magazine Vogue.
Vogue explains: “It’s an evening when designers, models, and Hollywood stars convene in the year’s most over-the-top looks to celebrate and fundraise at a new exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.”
Each year, attendees dress to a theme, with the gala itself held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Gala was first established in 1948, and since 1973 solidified itself as a huge event. The Met Gala is one of the main funding sources for the Institute, and contributions are estimated to surpass $200 million in total after the 2019 event.
Usually the Met Gala is held on the first Monday in May, however it was cancelled last year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and this year was rescheduled for a smaller ceremony on Monday 13 September.
What’s the theme this year?
The 2021 theme for the Met Gala is “American Independence”.
Vogue says that you can expect this brief to be interpreted in more ways than one, so while you might expect “flashy star-spangled outfits and classic gowns made by American designers”, you should always expect the unexpected.
Speaking to Vogue, Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, said that the 2021 event is centered around the question “Who gets to be American?”
He said: “American designers are at the forefront of conversations around diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, gender fluidity, and body positivity.
“The framework of the show enables us to focus on the younger designers who are engaging thoughtfully and deeply with those ideas.”
Bolton also said that he thinks that American fashion is “undergoing a renaissance”, saying: “I think young designers in particular are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers.”
Previous themes over the years have included Camp: Notes on Fashion, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, China: Through the Looking Glass, Punk: Chaos to Couture and Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy.
The Costume Institute will be presenting a two part 2021 exhibit. Part one of the exhibition, called “A Lexicon of Fashion”, will open on Saturday 18 September at the Anna Wintour Costume Centre at the Met, which will mark the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary.
Part two, called “An Anthology of Fashion”, will open on 5 May 2022, in the period rooms of the museum’s American Wing.
“Bolton and the museum’s curatorial team will work with American film directors to create cinematic scenes within each room that depict a different history of American fashion,” Vogue says.
A secondary Met Gala will take place on 2 May 2022 to mark the opening of “An Anthology of Fashion”.
Both shows will run through 5 September 2022.
Who is attending the Met Gala?
You can expect some of the biggest stars in the world to make an appearance at the Met Gala, however an official guest list has not been announced. Vogue says that “part of the fun of the Met Gala is not knowing who will show up!”
Each year, the Met Gala has a number of cochairs that help to host the event - for the 2021 Gala, it has been announced that Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka will cochair the affair, while Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and Anna Wintour will serve as the honorary chairs.
The Gala will also abide by a number of Covid-19 safety protocols, with all attendees required to provide a proof of full vaccination and a negative PCR test from the day before.
Guests will also be required to wear proper face coverings whilst indoors, except when eating or drinking.
Can I watch the Met Gala?
For the first time ever, you can watch a livestream of the 2021 Met Gala.
The livestream will be hosted by singer and TV personality Keke Palmer, and actor and director Ilana Glazer.
Vogue says that Glazer and Palmer will “provide unprecedented access to the Met Gala’s famous red carpet, interviewing high-profile guests as they arrive in grand style”.
The livestream will kick off at 5:30pm EST, which is 11:30pm in the UK.
What are some of the most memorable looks from past years?
Over the course of the Met Gala, we have seen some incredible looks grace the red carpet.
Some of the most memorable looks include:
- Rihanna in her incredible sherbet yellow robe created by Chinese designer Guo Pei for the 2015 show China: Through the Looking Glass - and no best dressed Met Gala list would be complete without Rihanna’s 2018 jewel-encrusted Pope robe for Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
- Lupita Nyong’o’s amazing sculpted hair for the 2016 show Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
- Zendaya and her tropical themed dress for the 2017 Met Gala Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between
- Cardi B in an ornately embellished Moschino by Jeremy Scott gown for the 2018 show Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
- Beyonce broke the internet in 2015 wearing a risque Givenchy outfit for China: Through the Looking Glass
- Lady Gaga sported multiple Brandon Maxwell outfits in 2019, one on top of another, which she removed piece by piece during Camp: Notes on Fashion
- Kim Kardashian West also got people talking with her daring latex dress, which brought Mugler out of retirement to design for the 2019 Camp: Notes on Fashion
Unfortunately not everyone manages to wow at the Met Gala, with many missing the brief and delivering red carpet fails.
Selena Gomez famously suffered a Met Gala fail in 2018 after a tanning disaster left her looking overly-bronzed.
Opening up about the incident on Vogue’s Beauty Secrets, Gomez said: “For the Met Gala, I was getting ready, and we wanted to add some colour.
“So I put on some of this tanning lotion, and it looked really beautiful and very even. As the evening kept going on, it was getting a little darker and darker.”
She explained that she only realised how bad things had gotten when she saw a picture of herself and she looked “completely orange”.
Instead of panicking, Gomez decided to make a joke out of the situation before anyone else could.
She said: “I had my security take a video of me because my first reaction was just to get the hell out of there. And so I’m running to my car. I’m literally just hauling a** to my car and then gonna put it online.
“I was saying this is my reaction after seeing my Met Gala photos.”
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