By: Madalyne Staab
Every year the most influential people in art, entertainment, fashion and business come together to honor and fund raise for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The glamorous event started all the way back in 1946, and though it has changed a lot over the decades, today it is still one of the premier events on any social starlets calendar.
This past Monday night the Met Gala commenced once again. This year’s theme, “China: Through the Looking Glass” shed light on the impact of Chinese aesthetics, both in art and design, and its impact on Western culture, and more specifically fashion. The theme of the gala always goes along with the newest exhibition at the Costume Institute.
Last year, the theme was Charles James: Beyond Fashion. And therefore many stars chose to wear huge ball gowns on the red carpet, bringing the event back in time to the turn of the century. Other popular themes have been Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2011, Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion in 2009 and The House of Chanel in 2005.
The event itself is meant to raise money for next year’s exhibit and the maintenance of the Institute. And when tickets are $2,500 a head, it is no surprise that the Institute has little trouble with funding. Last year the event raised a record $12 million.
The chair of the event is editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine Anna Wintour. Each year she oversees the guest list, which is often between 600-700 people, and chooses who she wants to co-chair with her on the event. Last year she chose Sarah Jessica Parker, an icon of the fashion scene. This year she went with industry darling Jennifer Lawrence and Chinese actress Gong Li.
The event is seen as one of the most exclusive parties of the year: you really have to be somebody if you expect an invitation to the ball. While we know Beyoncé and Jay-Z will always make the list, for a while an invite was said to be Kim Kardashians deepest wish. Well she finally got an invite in 2013 and will likely be invited back from now on.
Other stars that are staples on the red carpet are Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katie Holmes and Reese Witherspoon. Likewise, every year a slew of the top models make their way into the event usually on the arm of a big name designer, like Alexander Wang or Michael Kors.
While there will always be the Hollywood heavy hitters in attendance, the gala is also a good way to gauge someone’s popularity, at least in the eyes of Wintour. This year new It-girls Dakota Johnson, FKA Twigs, Grimes, Taraji P. Henson and model sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid all got “golden tickets.”
While there will always be a few mouth dropping moments, be it some stars choice in dress or a family brawl in the elevator, the Met Gala is meant to be the most elegant, glamourous and exclusiveevents of the year.
That is why Wintour put in place a ban on all selfies for this year’s event. And though many attendees broke that rule, the meaning behind it was honorable. While fashion has been stereotyped as elitist, Wintour’s goal was not only to keep out the more “common folk” but to increase the safety and feeling of privacy for the attending guests.
Just as you probably would not want someone sending photos of you drunk out of your mind to their hundreds of Facebook friends, the stars would also like to keep their embarrassing and likely inebriated acts out of the Twitter or Instagram universe.
Every year the Met Gala brings together some of the most influential and creative, and not to mention wealthiest, stars. With the beautiful Metropolitan Museum as its backdrop and venue, the event will always have that sense of glamour and prestige. So just as Kim Kardashian dreamed of one day getting an invite to the big dance, maybe someday we too will get to walk up the red carpeted stairs in a thousand dollar gown and smile to the hundreds of flashing cameras.