The first Monday in May: crowds line New York’s bustling Fifth Avenue to catch a glimpse of fashion royalty as The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual gala gets underway. The Met Gala, an institution in it’s own right since 1946, is the Costume Institute’s major fundraising event – garnering millions of dollars and unparalleled publicity each year to help drive the operations and growth of the Institute. Who’s wearing what, who is (and isn’t) on the guest list, and how the annual theme is interpreted through fashion are talking points for weeks – nay, seasons – to come.
A year of planning goes into the highly choreographed event, themed to coincide with the latest Costume Institute exhibit. This year’s Met Gala theme Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology elicited attire with metallic fabrics, geometric patterns and angular accessories from the veritable who’s who of fashion, film, politics and business. The Met Gala has enjoyed an incredible surge in exposure and interest since 1999, when Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, acceded as chairwoman of the event. She has been instrumental in making the $30,000-per-seat cocktail reception, dinner and after party one of the most coveted tickets in all of New York – and keeping the 2016 Met Gala well on-track to surpassing the $12.5 million raised just 12 months ago.
This year Ms. Wintour is joined by hosts Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift and Idris Elba, together with honorary chairs Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and Nicolas Ghesquière to welcome some 600 guests to The Met. Fashion houses and designers select their favorite muses to parade custom gowns down the notoriously critical red carpet. And while it isn’t mandatory that a guest channels the theme in his or her attire, some of the most knockout sensations in years past have drawn on the Institute’s exhibit inspiration: Cher in 1974, Sarah Jessica Parker in 2006 (we had to champion our namesake River Spey and sneak a bit of tartan into the list), and Rihanna in 2015 are among the most memorable.
Of course, the real fun happens not on the red carpet, but inside the Met Gala and around the exhibit. Though with Ms. Wintour’s strictly enforced edict of no posting on social media during the party, you’ll have to wait for all the really good stories to leak in the days to come. And for up-to-the-minute insight into the world of fashion at large and how it translates within our beloved Washington, DC, take a visual tour with Spey on Instagram. Life is certainly more fun through pearl-colored glasses!
Image credit: Beyoncé at the 2016 Met Gala in latex Givenchy and pearls | Vogue.com