The fashion history of the Met Gala


The Met Gala is the fashion event of the year. However, it turns out that it might not have always been that way. Yes, the grand event has come a long way over the years as the fashion history of the Met Gala shows.

2019 Met Gala

The beginning of it all

The Met Gala all started back in 1948 as Eleanor Lambert, the founder of Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list and a fashion publicist, knew that she needed some money for the new Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eleanor had the perfect plan: invite some of Manhattan’s finest to a midnight supper held in December at the Waldorf Astoria. It was a small affair that was supposed to bring in some of the high society people of the city. It was black tie and nowhere near the event that we know and love today.

Changing the ways

Everything changed when Diana Vreeland, a former editor of Vogue, stepped up as a consultant. All of a sudden, the Met Gala went from an understated affair to one that saw a host of Hollywood celebrities get a thick white invitation in the mail. It had been 24 years since the first Met Gala, but Diana was the first to introduce a themed dress code to the event. It was moved to the basement to showcase the annual exhibition, with Diana choosing themes such as Royal India, Yves Saint Laurent, and Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe. To top it off, guests would show off their outfits before stepping into a perfume-filled gallery for the night.

Welcome, Anna Wintour

Tragically, Diana passed away in 1989. The Met Gala had no chairwoman for years until Anna Wintour stepped up to the role in 1995. Princess Diana decided to make a surprise appearance in 1996, but things were about to change once again. Now, Anna wanted to change the Met Gala from December to May as well as opting to invite a host of Hollywood entertainers and fashion influencers to the event. Some of Anna’s early themes included many designers before she chose Cubism and Fashion in 1998 and Rock Style in 1999. The turn of the century saw no theme, but it wasn’t long before celebrities were turning up in some pretty impressive looks as the themes continued to grow.

2019 Met Gala

The many themes

The last two decades have seen a whole host of themes grace the Met Gala as Hollywood’s finest arrive to blow the competition out of the water. Some of the most impressive themes include Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy from 2008, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity from 2010, China: Through the Looking Glass from 2015, and Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination from 2017. Sadly, there have also been several controversies, too. A white tie dress code was announced in 2014, but many were outraged at the cost. Plus, Madonna’s 2016 look left many surprised as she wore one of the most controversial outfits to grace the event.

The Met Gala has been around for many decades, and it seems as though this simple fundraiser has come a long way from its humble beginnings. After all, it now sees celebs going toe to toe as they all want to land a spot on the guest list. As well as growing in status, the fashion history of the Met Gala also shows how the trends have changed, too.