Everything you need to know about the 2024 Met Gala
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Everything you need to know about the 2024 Met Gala
Rihanna at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in New York, May 1, 2023. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit is a black-tie extravaganza held the first Monday in May to raise money for the museum’s fashion wing — unofficially, it’s the party of the year. (Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/The New York Times)

by Vanessa Friedman

NEW YORK, NY.- First things first: What is the Met Gala?

Officially, it’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit, a black-tie extravaganza held the first Monday in May to raise money for the museum’s fashion wing, the only curatorial department at the Met that has to pay for itself.

Unofficially, it’s the party of the year, the Oscars of the East Coast and “an ATM for the Met” (the last according to publicist Paul Wilmot). Consider that last year’s event raised almost $22 million, while the Met’s Art & Artists Gala raised $4.4 million.

How is that possible? What is the secret sauce?

Two words: Anna Wintour.

Wintour, the global editorial director of Condé Nast and the editor-in-chief of its marquee fashion magazine, Vogue, has been the gala’s chief mastermind since 1999 after first signing on in 1995, and has transformed the event from a run-of-the-mill charity gala into a mega-showcase for Vogue’s view of the world — the ultimate celebrity-power cocktail of famous names from fashion, film, tech, politics, sports and, increasingly, social media. Every brand scratches every other brand’s back.

We think of it as the Fashion X Games or the All-Star Game of Entrances.

When is it?

The big day is Monday, May 6. In theory, the timed arrivals — each guest is allotted a slot — start at 5:30 p.m., usually with the evening’s hosts, and end around 8 p.m. But you try telling Rihanna when to show up. (Last year she came so late, other guests had already begun to leave.)

Is there a theme?

The party signals the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual blockbuster show, and the benefit is usually themed to the exhibition. Last year, that was easy — Karl Lagerfeld, the designer of Chanel, Fendi and his own brand, was both subject and dress code. But this year the show is called “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” and it is a lot more convoluted.

It will be built around not fairy tales or Disney, but rather treasures in the museum’s fashion collection so old and delicate that they cannot be displayed on mannequins. Instead, the exhibit will involve AI and 3D recreations of the work, as well as sound and, um … smell. But that’s not all.

The idea of decaying dresses — in total, the show will include about 250 pieces from four centuries — led Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator in charge, to think about the ephemerality of nature, which led to gardens … which ultimately led to the party’s dress code.

OK, what is the dress code?

It’s as potentially confusing as the exhibit. Guests have been instructed to dress for “The Garden of Time,” so named after a 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard about an aristocratic couple living in a walled estate with a magical garden while an encroaching mob threatens to end their peaceful existence. To keep the crowd at bay, the husband tries to turn back time by breaking off flower after flower, until there are no more blooms left. The mob arrives and ransacks the estate, and the two aristocrats turn to stone.

Just what comes to mind when you think “fashion,” right?

How this parable will be expressed in fabulousness has left many scratching their heads, but for anyone in doubt, roses are the most likely default. Also corsets, drapery and — hopefully — a great vintage gown or two; given his recent popularity, the smart money is on old Galliano resurfacing.

Still, there may be some surprises. Last year, Jared Leto came dressed as Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette, in full kitty glory. (After weeks of speculation, the look’s inspiration ultimately did not attend.) Given that Loewe is one of the sponsors of the evening and exhibit, you can expect a lot of Jonathan Anderson creations. He did once make a coat that sprouted real grass. That would look terrific as a formal sheath, don’t you think?

Who are the hosts?

Joining Wintour as the 2024 gala’s co-chairs are Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, Chris Hemsworth and Bad Bunny, while the honorary chairs are Anderson of Loewe and Shou Chew, the CEO of TikTok. (TikTok is sponsoring alongside Loewe and Condé Nast, though given what is currently happening in Washington with that social media company, whether he shows up at all is a question.) Like the party itself, the combination of hosts is all about the mix: music, film, fashion and social media.

Who are the livestream hosts?

To give an inside look at the gala, Vogue will be livestreaming the event for the fourth year in a row. Hosts have not yet been announced, but last year they included La La Anthony, Derek Blasberg, Emma Chamberlain and Chloe Fineman.

Who’s invited?

The guest list is a closely guarded secret. Unlike other cultural fundraisers, like the Metropolitan Opera gala or the Frick Collection Young Fellows Ball, the Met Gala is invitation-only. Entry is not just about price — which this year is a whopping $75,000 for one ticket ($25,000 more than last year), with tables beginning at $350,000. Qualifications for inclusion have more to do with buzz, achievement and beauty — the gospel according to Anna — than money. Wintour has the final say over every invitation and attendee.

That means that even if you give tons of money to the museum, you won’t necessarily qualify; and even if a company buys a table, it cannot choose everyone who will sit at that table. It must clear any guests with Wintour and Vogue and pray for approval. This year, as in 2023, there are about 400 Chosen Ones, according to a spokesperson for the Costume Institute.

Rihanna has confirmed her presence. Given the hosts, it’s also a pretty safe bet that Ben Affleck, Lopez’s husband, will be there; ditto Elsa Pataky, Hemsworth’s wife. Chances are likewise high that Loewe faces such as Greta Lee, Josh O’Connor, Taylor Russell and Jamie Dornan may also show. There will probably also be a Kardashian/Jenner or two, judging from years past, and odds are good that Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez will step out — though the hottest speculation is around such names as Caitlin Clarke, Sam Altman and the current celebrity royal couple, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.

Last year a cockroach made a surprise, and very New York, appearance.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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