10 Things You Didn’t Know About the MET Gala

Every year, on the first Monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts the Costume Institute’s annual fundraising gala. An event that has grown in prestige to become an unmissable evening in the fashion calendar. What design or theme has Anna Wintour, the high priestess of the MET Gala, selected? Which celebrities will make it onto the coveted guest list? Here are ten facts about the MET Gala you probably didn’t know.

1. The First MET Gala Was Not a Glamorous Event

The first-ever MET Gala was held in 1948, but it was organically designed not as a star-studded spectacle, but rather as a means to raise funds for the newly-founded Costume Institute. The event was a midnight dinner to which tickets were priced at fifty dollars each.

Without the celebrities, red carpet, and extensive media coverage, it was simply a society event. In the following decades, however, the MET Gala transformed into one of the fashion industry’s most renowned events.

2. Anna Wintour is the Artistic Director of the MET Gala

Anna Wintour, Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief since 1988, has been chairing the MET Gala since 1995. It was under her guidance that this event started attracting A-list celebrities from the worlds of art, fashion, music, and film, skyrocketing the gala to global fame.

Wintour meticulously reviews the guest list and maintains a strict rule: no one under the age of 18 is allowed. This is due to the fact that the event is a formal affair in which grown-up topics are often discussed.

3. Every MET Gala Has a Theme

Each year, the MET Gala features a distinct theme introduced in 1971, which guides guests on their fashion choices. These themes are typically inspired by the Costume Institute’s annual exhibit. Some past themes include “Manus x Machina,” “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” and “Camp: Notes on Fashion.”

The themes are not random; they are carefully chosen to inspire, provoke and challenge minds. The theme leaves room for drama, and each interpretation by the guests adds to the spectacle.

4. The Red Carpet Isn’t Actually Red

Despite being commonly referred to as the “red carpet,” the pathway that celebrities traverse at the MET Gala is not really red. In fact, its color changes each year to match the theme of the event.

For instance, during the “China: Through the Looking Glass” event in 2015, the carpet was blue, reflecting the Asian influence of the exhibition. It’s these little touches that keep the event unique.

5. The MET Gala is a Major Fundraiser

While the MET Gala is synonymous with glamour and celebrity, its true purpose is fundraising. An invite to the Gala costs around $30,000, while tables cost around $275,000. All proceeds go towards the Costume Institute, which is the only curatorial department at the MET that funds itself.

The Met Gala reportedly raised over $12 million in 2019, making it not only a major fashion and cultural event but a significant contributor to maintaining and expanding the Institute’s vast costume collection.

6. Not Everyone is Invited

The Met Gala guest list is an exclusive affair. Curated by the Vogue Editor-in-Chief, it’s an event designed for influencers in a variety of fields. So just being famous doesn’t necessarily mean an invite.

Moreover, being invited one year does not guarantee an invitation the next. Invitations are very much based on the individual’s status and current relevance in their respective fields.

7. Social Media Bans

In an effort to maintain the gala’s exclusivity, Anna Wintour established a social media ban in 2015. This rule means no selfies or social media posts are allowed during the event.

Despite the ban, many celebrities flout the rule every year, providing a first-person perspective of the highly glamorous event to their millions of followers.

8. Bathroom Selfie Tradition

Despite the social media ban, a new tradition started – bathroom selfies. It started in 2017 when Kylie Jenner posted an epic celebrity-filled bathroom mirror selfie.

This has since become a mini-movement, with many stars using the restroom as a space to create memorable photos that break the Internet.

9. Cher Was the First Celebrity Performer

Cher holds the honor of being the very first celebrity to ever perform at the Met Gala, when she sang at the event in 1974. Since then, the MET Gala stage has hosted a multitude of top performers, including Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Madonna.

Performances are usually in line with the theme of the year, making each one a memorable spectacle.

10. Anna Wintour Approves All Guests Personally

No matter who you are or how famous, every guest at the MET Gala is personally approved by Anna Wintour. It is reported that she scrupulously goes through the list, even re-arranging seating up until the day of the event.

Her stringent gatekeeping has effectively turned the event into an annual gathering of extraordinary global influence.

For more info and the latest news on the MET Gala visit:
The MET Costume Institute
Vogue’s MET Gala