by Jade Rhode
I’m sure that many of us look forward to the Met Gala every year, to see our favourite celebs decked out in the best of the best! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, 2020 saw the cancellation of the “Party of the Year”. However, it seems that we’ll be in for a bit of a treat this year.
The event, formerly known as the Costume Institute Gala or Met Ball, is widely known for presenting the most extravagant fashion worn by celebs. Attendees should be able to afford the reported $30 000 ticket (roughly half a million Rand!) and pass Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s approval to set foot at the opulent event (that usually takes place on the first Monday of May).
Started by theatre producer Irene Lewisohn and stage designer Aline Bernstein in the 1920s in New York, the Met Gala came into fruition to produce a collection of costumes as a source of inspiration for theatre designers in the jazz scene. In 1946, as the collection grew, it was stored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and known as the Costume Institute. The message behind the clothes was to show that these garments possess beauty. Since the '70s, the museum has become the venue for fundraising events.
The theme for 2020 would have been About Time: Fashion and Duration, showing the history of fashion from 1870 to now. Anna Wintour, who has chaired the event since 1995, would have been co-chaired by Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Nicolas Ghesquière, who is creative director of Louis Vuitton’s women’s section.
This year, there will be a two-part exhibition on American fashion and how it has changed since 1998’s “American Ingenuity”. The first exhibition themed “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” will open on 18 September 2021. It will remain on display until the second exhibition “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” opens on 5 May 2022. Both shows will run through 5 September 2022.
Now let's look back on the past decade’s most memorable designs!
2010 – American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity
This theme, as described by the Metropolitan Museum, “explore[d] the developing perception of the modern woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today.”
2011 – Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
This theme can be seen as a nod to British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who passed away a year before the 2011 Met Gala. The exhibition featured pieces from McQueen’s archives.
2012 – Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations
This theme looks at the orchestrated conversations between two iconic Italian designers from different eras: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada.
2013 – Punk: Chaos to Couture
The 2013 theme looks at how punk influences fashion today since its birth in the 1970s.
2014 – Charles James: Beyond Fashion
The name Charles James may not ring a bell to many, but it certainly sets off alarms in the fashion industry. Charles James, who was born in the United Kingdom, was known for his ballgowns and sculpting fabric into unique designs.
2015 – China: Through the Looking Glass
The Chinese-inspired theme celebrates the influence the country has on Western fashion. Vogue mentions that this exhibition was a joint effort between the head of the museum’s Department of Asian Art and the Costume Institute.
2016 – Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
The event went back to the future, looking at the contrast between handmade and machine-made fashion.
2017 – Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between
The Met Gala looked at the work of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo who is known for her avant-garde designs. The exhibition also looked at some of Kawakubo’s womenswear pieces for Comme des Garçons (her fashion label), dating from the 1980s to her most recent collections.
2018 – Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
The theme paired Catholicism with fashion. There were many holy items on display at the 2018 Met Gala, which included artifacts and objects sent to the museum from the Vatican. It is said that most of these artifacts had never seen the light beyond Rome.
2019 – Camp: Notes of Fashion
2019 saw many celebs go camp with their fashion. In 1964, Susan Sontag, an American writer, filmmaker and political activist defined “camp” as an aesthetic “sensibility” that is plain to see but hard to explain. She also wrote that the style has an intentional “over-the-top-ness.” Many celebs celebrated the theme that night, but one celeb in particular stole the show!
Lady Gaga, who was the co-chair for the event that year, not only served one look, not two looks, but four looks on the carpet! The singer and actress donned fuchsia and black camp looks designed by Brandon Maxwell, who assisted her with her outfit changes. Click here to watch Liza Koshy narrate her entrance.