Football has the Super Bowl, hockey has the Stanley Cup, and fashion has the Costume Institute Gala. While no trophies are handed out at the Costume Institute Gala, or Met Gala as it’s better known, this event is the ultimate celebration of fashion, even more so than the Oscars red carpet or Fashion Week.
On Monday, May 5, fashion’s and Hollywood’s most elite stars will be walking up the iconic crimson steps leading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in designer creations aligned with this year’s theme “Charles James: Beyond Fashion.” Those in attendance will be expected to follow the strict White Tie dress code established by event co-chair, Anna Wintour, who has been a major supporter of the Met since 1999.
This year’s Gala also marks the transition of the Costume Institute to the Anna Wintour Costume Center to honor her commitment to the institute, and to recognize the $125 million she has raised to support their dedication to the arts, according to Time. First Lady Michelle Obama will be in attendance at the event, and will deliver a speech before the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the famed editor.
Men will be expected to wear tailcoats, vests, and sharp white bow ties, to look like gentlemen from the James era. The women will be arriving in exquisitely tailored ball gowns, reminiscent of the designs that he created between the early 1930s and the late 1950s. Two of James’ most famous creations are the “Taxi dress” that was named for its quick-change capability in the back of a moving cab, and the “Butterfly ball gown,” a column gown with a voluminous half-skirt that trails behind the dress.
Many A-list women also come as guests of their favorite designers to the event, dressed in custom gowns created specifically for them. In the past, Diane Kruger has accompanied Jason Wu in one of his designs, and Emma Stone has been the esteemed guest of Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz on a few different occasions, to the Gala which costs $25,000 a person to attend.
While many of the attendees’ attire fits the theme of the event, there have been a number of rule breakers in the past that have turned heads for reasons both good and bad. Just last year at the “Punk: Chaos to Couture” exhibition, Jennifer Lawrence gracefully made her way up the Met’s steps in a navy tea-length Dior dress, adorned with black sequined embroidery, and accessorized with sky-high black heels, and matching black netted veil.
Lawrence was one of the night’s best dressed, even though she decided to go against the theme, unlike Nicki Minaj who unexpectedly played it safe in her cut-out Tommy Hilfiger column gown. The only eye-catching part of her ensemble was her tightly curled, unruly blonde locks.
Wearing a sheer black vintage Valentino dress with feather accents put a blonde Anne Hathaway at the top of the fashion pack that year, as did Jessica Biel’s black Giambattista Valli gown with a long train, and short front hemline, exposing a pair of spider web-inspired pants.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s sparkling nude Stella McCartney column dress with thigh-slit and low back was one of the highlights from the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” even in 2011. Unfortunately, the black and gold embroidered Emilio Pucci mermaid-style gown that Beyoncé wore to the same event suffered in the style department, as a result of her inability to maneuver the stairs in it.
The Met Gala’s theme for Monday night’s high-profile event signifies a return to the glamorous exhibitions held in years past, like “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years” and “The House of Chanel” presentations held in 2001 and 2004, respectively. As guests arrive in their tailcoats and ball gowns on what will likely be the most fashionable Cinco de Mayo in history, fashion critics will be waiting to see whose interpretation of the theme reigned supreme, and whose fell short of expectations.