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A historical timeline of the annual Met Gala

On May 1, practically all of Hollywood attended the annual Met Gala in New York City, known for its wide array of fashion looks. Yet, this event wasn’t always just about the fashion, starting out as a charity event thanks to publicist Eleanor Lambert in order to raise funds for the newly founded costume institute within The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

It’s important to acknowledge the history of the Met Gala, even if now it has become less about making a difference and more about making a fashion statement. Here is a historical timeline of the annual Met Gala:


Lambert, a well-known fashion publicist, decides to create a fundraising event for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Thus, the first Met Gala occurred this year, the museum holding a small midnight dinner with tickets on sale for $50. 


The Met Gala is not held in the museum during this time period. Locations for the event included Central Park, the Rainbow Room and the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Early 1970s

Former Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland joins the Costume Institute as a consultant, helping develop new ways to make the Met Gala what it is today. Vreeland was the first to introduce themes for the event, the first one being “The World of Balenciaga” in 1973. The Met Gala also begins to take place in the actual museum.


Vreeland passes away, causing Anna Wintour to take over as chairman in the event’s planning process. The editor-in-chief was able to get iconic guests to come to the Met Gala throughout her career including celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, Elton John and Cher.


Vogue’s current editor-in-chief Anna Wintour begins to preside over the Met Gala, moving the event to the first Monday in May, which it has remained since. Wintour’s contributions allowed for the guest list to the event to evolve, inviting individuals from the entertainment, pop culture and political spheres of the world, especially those who were featured on the covers of Vogue. 


Andrew Bolton joined the Costume Institute after serving time at the Victoria & Albert Museum, along with Harold Koda. The two helped the event elevate their exhibitions with elaborate displays and collaborations with others parts of the museum. 


The Met Gala becomes more elaborate during this year, especially with the theme of “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century.” Actress and model Amber Valletta wore a Marie-Antoinette punk rock look this year as well, which became a statement piece for guests to come. This theme also allowed the event to honor other designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace and Christian Dior.


Raúl Ávila took over the design of the Met Gala, placing an 18-foot-tall birdcage with live peacocks in the Great Hall of the museum that year. 


The Met Gala became a more celebrity-filled event, inviting pop culture stars such as Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and Rihanna. 


The Met Gala instilled a social media ban on the event, forbidding guests from using social media while in attendance. 


Unlike its $50 ticket prices from the 1940s, the Met Gala revealed their new values. For a ticket, it cost $25,000, while a table for 10 could be purchased for $250,000. 


Wintour and her creatives also instilled an age limit for the event, only allowing exceptions for minors attending with their parents. Before this rule, stars such as Willow and Jaden Smith, Elle and Dakota Fanning and Hailee Steinfeld walked the red carpet. 


In the last several years, the Met Gala has gotten crazier in terms of fashion. From Lady Gaga’s stunning outfit changes in 2019 to Jared Leto wearing a cat costume inspired by the late Karl Lagerfeld’s cat this past year, the event has completely transformed into what is now called “Fashion’s Biggest Night.”


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