23 Met Gala Secrets Only Insiders Know
Fashion's most iconic event is about way more than just looking pretty.
On the first Monday of every May, the world watches intently as celebrities and fashion’s elite walk up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and into one of the most exclusive events in the world. We’re talking about the Met Gala, of course, an evening celebrating the intersection of fashion and art.
Donned in thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing and jewelry, each attendee showcases their interpretation of the year’s theme—like 2018’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” or 2019’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” But what exactly is the Met Gala all about, and why do we never see what’s going on inside the event? Well, we’ve rounded up 23 secrets about the Met Gala to demystify the magical night.
The Met Gala isn’t actually called the Met Gala.
The event we know as the Met Gala actually goes by a much longer, formal name. Though you don’t hear it often, the annual gala is technically called the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit, according to The Met’s website.
It’s been around since the 1940s.
Publicist Eleanor Lambert founded the gala in 1948 “to encourage donations from New York’s high society,” according to Vogue U.K. Vogue editor Anna Wintour didn’t become involved with the event until 1995.
Only celebrities and designers who fit well into the evening’s theme are invited.
Every year, Wintour hand-selects the artists and celebrities whom she believes best embodies the evening’s theme. The 2019 Met Gala, for example, includes co-chairs Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Serena Williams, all of whom “are exemplars of camp in the Instagram age,” according to Vogue.
But you can be uninvited.
If you get on Wintour’s bad side before the Met Gala, then you are bound to face the consequences. Just ask Rachel Zoe and Tim Gunn. According to Page Six, Zoe was allegedly uninvited from the 2007 Met Gala after saying she was “more influential” than Wintour in an interview with The New York Times.
And Gunn, former mentor of Project Runway, told E!’s Fashion Police that he too was uninvited in 2016 after gossiping about Wintour. “I was asked what is the most unforgettable thing I’ve ever seen in fashion, and I said, ‘It’s easy. It was watching Anna Wintour being carried down five flights of stairs by two bodyguards—two big hulking men—from a fashion show,” he admitted.
Attending is really expensive.
Even tickets to the Super Bowl look cheap compared to tickets to the Met Gala. Tickets for the 2018 evening, for instance, cost a staggering $30,000 and tables cost $275,000, reports Business Insider.
But only certain people are allowed to buy tickets.
Even if you happen to have $30,000 laying around, you still might not make it into the Met Gala. Ultimately, Wintour decides who’s in and who’s out—and “even if a brand buys a table, every attendee must be approved,” a 2017 article from Forbes notes.
Just because you were invited once doesn’t mean you’re a shoo-in every year.
Supermodel Coco Rocha, for instance, attended the Met Gala on numerous occasions. But in 2017, she was left off the list of invitees. “I don’t know [why],” she told the New York Post’s Page Six. “You’ll have to ask Anna that.”
Plus-ones have to be approved first.
If you see your favorite celebrity on the Met Gala red carpet sans their significant other, don’t assume it’s because they’ve broken up. According to Who What Wear, there are “no extras allowed unless they’re also on the pre-approved guest list.”
There’s an age restriction, too.
There’s a reason why Beyoncé and Jay-Z haven’t brought Blue Ivy Carter to fashion’s biggest night. The organizers behind the Met Gala ruled that attendees must be at least 18 years old to enter the event. “It’s not an appropriate event for people under 18,” they confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
You won’t see parsley on the menu.
The First Monday in May, a documentary about the 2015 Met Gala, claims that parsley is an unwelcome ingredient at the gala. Why? Evidently, it gets stuck in your teeth far too easily. And if Wintour says no parsley, then no parsley it is. Bruschetta is reportedly left off the menu, too.
Department of Health inspectors are allegedly on hand to make sure that people don’t secretly smoke.
In 2017, Bella Hadid, Dakota Johnson, Stella McCartney, and Rami Malek were all caught on camera smoking in the bathrooms at the Met Gala, violating New York City’s Smoke-Free Air Act.
There is no social media allowed inside the event.
Put away those cell phones, Met Gala goers! According to the New York Times, social media is banned inside the event, adding to the exclusivity of it as a whole. (Yes, Kim Kardashian, that means no selfies.)
There’s a well-thought-out seating chart.
Unsurprisingly, it takes hours of planning to put together the seating chart for one of the biggest nights in fashion. “We’re very thoughtful about where we place people,” Sylvana Ward Durrett, Vogue’s director of special projects, said. “We kind of pride ourselves that in this room, there are all these new connections made. There’s a lot of networking that goes on, and you hear all these stories that come out of the Met, like, ‘So-and-so is now doing a fragrance with Marc Jacobs because they met at the [event].’”
Stars wear slits for practical reasons.
If you’ve ever been to the Met Museum, then you understand that it cannot be easy walking up those daunting steps in such extravagant get-ups. That’s precisely why some designers opt for slits in their ensembles.
As stylist Manny Ezugwu explained to The Telegraph: “There was this funny scene where we trying to load Toni [Garnn] and Jourdan [Dunn] in the car to get to the Met Gala and we had to put the seats totally flat so they could get there without the dresses getting creased. And then when they were walking, it was impossible because it was one foot in front of the other. After that, from 2014 onwards, I was like, ‘There needs to always be a slit.'”
Rihanna once performed on top of a table.
The 2015 Met Gala got the surprise of a lifetime when one of its attendees decided to do some DIY karaoke. According to Vogue, Rihanna surprised guests by hopping on top of a table and performing “B**** Better Have My Money.” Talk about getting your money’s worth!
Some of the dresses we see on the carpet are actually available for purchase.
For example, Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of French fashion house Balmain, auctioned off the pieces he designed for the 2018 Met Gala for charity. And according to Refinery29, other dresses have been available to shop on websites like Moda Operandi, including Emma Watson’s 2013 Prabal Gurung number for a price tag of $4,495.
Some celebrities put hidden messages in their Met Gala ensembles.
The 2018 Met Gala was the year of hidden messages. Blake Lively’s Judith Leiber clutch, for instance, paid tribute to her family; the gems on the bag spelled out “Reynolds” and featured the initials B, J, I, and R, representing Blake, her daughters James and Ines, and her husband, Ryan Reynolds.
And Coach revealed on Instagram that Selena Gomez hand-wrote a Bible verse that was copied onto the bag she carried at the 2018 Met Gala. The verse reads, “A woman who fears the Lord is a woman who shall be praised.”
Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney once wore T-shirts to the Met Gala.
It’s hard to believe when we think about the looks we’re used to seeing at the Met Gala, but in 1999, both Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney wore one-shoulder white T-shirts to the annual affair. On both ladies’ shirts were the words “Rock Royalty,” which fit in appropriately with that year’s “Rock Style” theme and with their lives: Tyler is the daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and McCartney’s father, of course, is Paul McCartney of The Beatles.
And Emma Watson wore a dress made from recycled plastic bottles.
Emma Watson, a loud and proud advocate for sustainability within the fashion industry, wore an eco-friendly dress to the 2016 Met Gala made of recycled plastic bottles. “Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on the planet. Being able to repurpose this waste and incorporate it into my gown for the Met Gala proves the power that creativity, technology and fashion can have by working together,” Watson wrote on her Facebook page about her unique outfit choice.
The Met Gala is also a fundraiser.
The Met’s Costume Institute relies on the donations it receives during the Met Gala in order to stay afloat. According to The New York Times, it’s “the only one of the Met’s curatorial departments that has to fund itself, fashion having been an iffy proposition as an art form when the Costume Institute was established.”
Under Wintour, the gala has raised nearly $200 million (and counting).
Wintour has done wonders for the Met Gala both fashionably and financially. According to Forbes, the gala has raised approximately $186 million for the Costume Institute since she took the reins.
The Met Gala’s red carpet only recently became televised.
It wasn’t until 2016 that E! finally began to televise the Met Gala. However, cameras don’t get to go past the red carpet portion of the evening (which is two hours long).
But there is one way anyone can get a taste of the what happens inside.
Though scoring an invite to the Met Gala is all but impossible, it is actually quite easy to get a glimpse of the art and fashion that inspires the annual event. The Met Gala’s theme is connected to an annual exhibit at the Costume Institute at the Met, and after the gala, the museum opens the exhibit up the the public for the entire summer. This year, the accompanying exhibit will be open from May 9 to September 8. And if you can’t wait to get your fashion fix, then check out these 30 Fashion Trends That Will Never Go Out of Style.
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