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Alanna Martine Kilkeary / Her Campus

MET Gala: Know The Event’s Importance and How Will It Happen In 2021

Even though the 2020 MET Gala had to be canceled because of the pandemic of Covid-19, in 2021, the show is back! The date and the theme have already been decided and according to The New York Times, the Costume Institute Gala — an event to collect money and open the fashion exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum — will happen in two parts, one on September 18th of 2021 and another on May 5th of 2022. 

What Is The MET Gala?

Usually held on the first Monday in May, the ball is an extravagant fundraiser for the benefit of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute - an event that has become so renowned and captivating, there is even a behind-the-scenes documentary about it (The First Monday in May). Now in its 73rd year, the MET Gala was first established in 1948 to celebrate the opening of the New York museum’s new Costume Institute. Each year, the event has a theme linked to the annual blockbuster fashion exhibition, which is usually announced in March.

Hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art itself, the invite-only gala draws one of the most star-studded red carpets of the seasonal calendar. With attendees required to dress in line with the theme, each event is an opportunity for famous faces - and designers who dress them — to leave their mark on the red carpet. It’s also a tradition that they attend together, as each other’s date. Previous themes have included everything from Cubism (1998) and Catholicism (2018) to Camp Fashion (2019). 

Usually, the list of famous people who attend the gala is made by the head chef of North American Vogue, and the host of the party, Anna Wintour. Normally haute couture brands pay to have a table in the event as well. However, everyone that can afford a ticket gets in, and even though it costs about US$ 35.000, the waiting list is huge.

2021's: The Theme

2021’s theme is America: A Lexicon of Fashion. According to Andrew Bolton, one of the head chefs of the event, the idea is to celebrate in a conscious way American fashion, especially because the industry was very affected by the pandemic and has never been taken so seriously as European fashion industry. 

I believe that the American fashion industry is going through a period of renaissance, with young designers discussing themes like diversity, inclusion, sustainability, and creative consistency. I think everything is very exciting”, he said in an interview with Vogue. 

Traditionally American fashion has been described in terms of the American tenets of simplicity, practicality, and functionally. Fashion’s more emotional qualities have tended to be reserved for more European fashion”, completes Bolton.

A Lexicon Of Fashion - 2021's Part One

The first part of the exhibition, A Lexicon of Fashion, will open on September 19th at Anna Wintour Costume Center at the MET, marking the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. An intimate gala to celebrate the exhibition's opening will take place on September 13th, co-chaired by Thimotheé Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka with honorary chairs for Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and of course, the host Anna Wintour. The exhibit will be organized to resemble a home, with intersecting walls and rooms that will establish what Bolton calls “a new vocabulary that’s more relevant and more reflective of the times in which we’re living”. 

In part one we’ll be reconsidering this perception [American fashion has been described by simplicity, practicality and functionally] by establishing a modern lexicon of fashion based on the emotional qualities of dress”, says Andrew.  The rooms in this part of the exhibit will be titled to reflect the personal and emotional relationship we have with fashion: “Well-Being” for the kitchen galleries, for example. 

When it comes to human connections with clothes, Bolton’s idea is to write a new history of American style that focuses less on sportswear and Seventh Avenue’s dressmakers, instead of framing designers as creators, innovators, and artists. “Taken together these qualities will compromise a modern vocabulary of American fashion that prioritizes values, emotions, and sentiments over sportswear principles of realism, rationalism, and pragmatism”, he said. 

A denim American flag will open the show, and the director Melina Matsoukas will create a film for the exhibit that will evolve over the course of its run. 

An Anthology of Fashion - 2021's Part Two

Part two is called “An Anthology of Fashion” and it will happen on May 5th, 2022, in the period rooms of the museum’s American Wing. In this, it’s a natural coda to the museum’s trio of Costume Institute exhibits that began with 2004’s Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 19th Century.

In its conceptualization, part two actually preceded part one and actually inspired and informed it. For many years now we’ve been examining our collection to uncover hidden or untold, or problematizing monolithic interpretations of fashion. Our intention for part two is to bring these stories together in an anthology that challenges perceived histories and offers an alternative reading of American fashion”, explained Bolton.

He and the museum’s curatorial team will work with American film directors to create cinematic scenes within each room that depict a different history of American Fashion. 

A second Met Gala will happen on May 2nd, 2022, to mark the opening of “An Anthology of American Fashion”. The exhibit will run through September 5th, 2022, and is made possible by Instagram and with support from Condé Nast. 


The article above was edited by Rafaela Bertolini.

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Casper Libero '24

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