What you need to know about the Met Gala

Updated on May 2 2017

The highly anticipated Met Gala — arguably the biggest and most exclusive fashion event of the year — takes place in New York City tonight, but before we recap who wore what, we’d like to make sure you’re fully up to speed on the ins and outs of this star-studded occasion. We break it down for you below.

The Met Gala is arguably the biggest and most exclusive fashion event of the year, and the guest list is highly exclusive.

What is the Met Gala exactly?
Held every first Monday in May since 1948, the black-tie extravaganza is also known the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute Benefit, and it’s a night where VIPs from top social circles, celebrities, designers, and Hollywood stars all gather at the museum to celebrate the opening of its major annual fashion exhibition. It also acts as a charitable event that raises funds for the Costume Institute, which is the museum’s only curatorial department that needs to fund itself.

Can I attend?
Good luck. Unless you’re a celebrity or on the VVIP list, you’ll need a ticket to get in, and each one reportedly costs up to US$30,000 each (approx. HK$233,389), with tables priced at around US$275,000 (approx. HK$2,139,403). Even if you are willing to pay, Anna Wintour, Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, still has the final say as to who’s allowed in and who doesn’t, which means your chances are rather slim — sorry.

So Anna Wintour handles everything?
Yes and no. Wintour, who took over as the gala’s chairwoman in 1995, selects an honorary chairperson every year to help her gather donations, assist with event details, and to create even greater awareness for the occasion. For 2017, Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons — whose designs are the focus of the Costume Institute’s exhibition — appropriately takes the role of honorary chair alongside Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams, who will be acting as co-chairs.

If it’s so exclusive, what’s so exciting about the Met Gala?
Even though it’s a closed-door party with only 600 guests, fashion fanatics around the world still look forward to observing the glitz and glamour from afar, as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker, and other celebrities hit the red carpet in outfits that will be dissected and discussed for days to come. The dress code is themed according to the Costume Institute exhibition, which is why the Met’s signature steps have seen some of the most iconic red-carpet looks over the years. Remember Rihanna’s golden Guo Pei couture and Beyoncé’s barely-there gown by Roberto Cavalli?

The dramatic Guo Pei couture gown Rihanna wore to the Met Gala in 2013 took the designer two years to make.

So what’s going on this year?
This year, the exhibition is dedicated to Rei Kawakubo, contemporary designer behind Japanese label Comme des Garçons, who is only the second living designer to be the sole subject of Met’s fashion exhibit (the first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983). The exhibition, titled Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, will showcase 150 of her womenswear creations dating from the early 1980s.

A collection of Kawakubo’s iconoclastic designs from her decades-long career.

As the queen of avant-garde fashion, Kawakubo is celebrated for her iconoclastic vision, and is known for her radical designs that play with structure, proportion, and conceptual aesthetics. That’s why it will be more interesting than ever to see what the stars are wearing this year in honour of the designer’s work. We’re quite certain that it will be nothing like any other red carpets you’ve seen, ever.