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What Does The Met Gala Raise Money For?

by Lois Geal

Affectionately referred to as “fashion’s biggest night out,” The Met Gala is officially titled the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit.

The annual event, always held on the first Monday in May, fundraises for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, a collection of more than 33,000 pieces of clothing, jewellery, and accessories that documents fashion from the 1400s to now.

Organised and presided over by Anna Wintour since 1995, the Met Gala has become a much-loved annual celebration of fashion. Traditionally, it is timed to mark the opening of the institute’s latest fashion exhibition.

The theme of the exhibit sets the tone for the benefit event, with its title inspiring the guests dress code. This year, the exhibit was titled “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” and the attendees dressed to the theme of “The Garden of Time,” which was inspired by the J.G. Ballard short story of the same name.

Taking place every year since 2005, the past 3 years have resumed normality after 2020’s Met Gala was cancelled due to Covid and 2021 saw it held in September, again as a result of the pandemic.

Year after year, the event raises eight-figure sums by selling tables to designers who invite A-listers and up-and-coming young creatives to represent them. Thus it has become renowned for seeing celebrities wearing outfits spanning the range from beautiful to bizarre, inspired to inexplicable. 

Essentially, the costume institute is the only wing of the Met museum that needs to fund itself, and it does so spectacularly through the one party it throws in the year.

The party is strictly invitation-only, with a select group of celebrities from across fields making the cut each year. The guests are encouraged to dress up according to the theme decided for the year, with around 400 people having been invited in 2023 according to a spokeswoman for the Costume Institute.

This year, the theme is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” which is “built around not fairy tales or Disney, but rather treasures in the museum’s fashion collection so old and delicate that they cannot be displayed on mannequins,” according to a report by The New York Times.

Since the Met Gala is raising money for a costume institute, the outfits push the limits of fashion and creativity, blessing the internet with material to both admire and meme. 

The Met Gala is also funded by various sponsors each year. Previously including YouTube but for 2024 TikTok and Loewe, a Spanish luxury fashion brand, took the spots alongside Condé Nast.

The Met Gala wasn’t always the high-profile event with global visibility it is today. It began in 1948, when fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert decided to invite New York’s high society for a fundraising dinner, with tickets priced at $50 each. 

In 1972, fashion columnist Diana Vreeland became consultant to the costume institute, and raised the Gala’s profile beyond just a New York city event by inviting famous and glamorous guests, and also introducing the practice of annual themes.

Many believe the Gala has attained its current status because of Anna Wintour, the editor-in-Chief of fashion magazine Vogue and Global Chief Content Officer for Condé Nast. 

Wintour has been the chief organiser of the event since 1999 and personally curates the guest list, making an invitation to the Met Gala a highly sought-after status symbol.

Edited by Emily Duff


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