The Met Gala was created in 1948 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise money for the Costume Institute in New York. Most now associate the gala with elaborate themes, and the outfits to match. Fashion icons such as Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour have helped develop the Mat Gala to transform into the extravagant event it is today. Despite being almost 80 years old, this fundraiser has persevered, and has become a staple for fashion fans worldwide.
In 1937, a Jewish Philanthropist named Irene Lewishon, founded the Costume Institute. This organization started separately as the Museum of Costume Art, but later merged with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The creation of this institute aimed to collect and preserve pieces of fashion, and recognize costume designers throughout history.
Two years after the museums merged, Fashion Publicist, Eleanor Lambert created an event called the Costume Institute Benefit. The event was fifty dollars a head, with the initial fundraiser being a private dinner soiree. The invitees were mainly New York Philanthropists and fashion industry leaders. Throughout the years, the benefit moved to different locations around New York.
The event stayed relatively the same until Diana Vreeland took over as the Costume Institute's head in 1972. Vreeland was the person responsible for creating the first Met Gala theme, which was an homage to Cristòbal Balenciaga, who had died the year prior.
The theme, titled "The World of Balenciaga", featured pieces by the Spanish designer and was one of the first galas to have movie and TV stars in attendance. As the themes developed throughout Vreeland's reign as Met Gala head, more illustrious stars began to attend the fundraiser.
Vreeland was the one responsible for transforming the intimate dinner part into a glamorous, star-studded gala. Many Met Museum employees were unsatisfied with the former Vogue editor's appointment as head of the event, but her supporters never waivered. Friends and fans across the country raised money to contribute to Vreeland's first two years of salary in order to keep her as Chairman of the Met Gala. At the time, Vreeland allowed up-and-coming designers and fashion students to attend the event after dinner, with the tickets only being 100 dollars.
After Vreeland's passing in 1989, Anna Wintour became Chairman of the Met Gala in 1995. Having served as the Vogue Editor-In-Chief for seven years, Wintour understood the legacy she had to upkeep. Since the beginning of her leadership, the yearly event has been cemented as one of the most notorious in fashion history.
The theme during her first year as head of the gala was straightforward: Haute Couture. Since then, Wintour has embraced elaborate subjects for the event and elevated the fundraiser as a whole. The Met Gala has since included bigger invitation lists, celebrity performances, and more extensive costuming. She has brought many creative visionaries such as Harry Styles and Lady Gaga to help coordinate the event. It is also known that Wintour hand picks the guest list every year, and is rumored to approve celebrities' outfits before they premiere on the red carpet.
The Met Gala has produced some of the most jaw dropping costumes in fashion history, and gives designers a platform to show their work. From being 50 dollars per person, to one of the most expensive fundraisers in world history, this event lives in fashion lovers' minds-no matter if it's the first Monday in May or not.