Met Gala themes through the years: A look back at many of the first Mondays in May

Met Gala themes through the years: A look back at many of the first Mondays in May

On May 6, the world’s actors, models, designers, athletes, politicians and top tastemakers will attend the 2024 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. the topic? “Sleeping Beautys: Reawakening Fashion” – which will reveal some of the rarest and most beautiful pieces in the Costume Institute’s permanent collection.

The Met Gala is a big deal. It dictates the dress code (celebrities, designers and change makers are challenged to create outfits that serve as a fashion statement) And An homage to the concept), the decor, and most importantly, the larger purpose of the night itself. The gala is, yes, a major fundraising event that draws stars, but its importance goes beyond the money raised and the impressions made on social media. It’s a grand exposition of art as fashion and fashion as art, showing how both forms shape and define our cultural fabric.

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Each topic is chosen with the utmost care, asking the question: What story does this tell? What history does he teach? In 2018, the exhibition “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” showcased hundreds of sacred items from the Vatican. A few years ago, “China: Through the Looking Glass” celebrated China’s influence on Western and Eastern design, while May 2019 explored “Camp” and its exaggerated artifice.

Below, we’ve charted each year’s Met Gala theme dating back to 1995, the first year Anna Wintour chaired the event.

2023: “Karl Lagerfeld: a line of beauty”

The 2023 Met Gala was a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the encyclopedic designer whose six-decade career changed the fashion industry as we know it. Featuring 150 pieces spanning the years 1950 to 2019 – which included top jobs at Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and his eponymous brand – the exhibition explores his creative process and, by extension, his legacy. However, Andrew Bolton, curator in charge of the Wendy Yeo Costume Institute, stresses that the show is not a show. “We did not want to focus on Karl the man, who has long been the subject of his own mythology, largely the result of his own self-invention,” he told the press in his opening remarks. Instead, they focused on the many concepts that governed his genius, organized by visual lines designed by the famous architect Tadao Ando. “The zigzag line refers to his historical, romantic and decorative motives, and the straight line refers to his modernist, classic and minimalist tendencies,” Bolton added.

2022: “In America: An Anthology of Fashion”

“In America: An Anthology of Fashion” was the second part of the Metropolitan Museum’s examination of American fashion. (The first, “In America: A Dictionary of Fashion,” debuted in September 2021 and served as the theme of that year’s Met Gala.) While “Dictionary” served as an expansive look at American fashion as a whole — especially its young designers — the anthology served as an exhibition A historical retrospective of both designs and the stories of their makers. “The stories really reflect the evolution of American style, but they also explore the work of individual tailors, dressmakers, and designers,” explains Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in charge of the Costume Institute. “What’s interesting to me is that some of the names will be very familiar to fashion students like Charles James, Halston, and Oscar de la Renta, but so many others have been forgotten, overlooked or neglected.” From the history of fashion.”

2021: In America: Fashion Dictionary

said Andrew Bolton, Costume Institute Curator-in-Charge Wendy Yeo Vogue magazine The 2021 event focused on the question “Who becomes an American?” Which was originally placed on a red, white and blue silk scarf from Prabal Gurung’s 10th anniversary collection. “American designers are at the forefront of conversations about diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, gender fluidity and body positivity,” he said. “The showcase allows us to focus on young designers who engage thoughtfully and deeply with those ideas.” The exhibition included more than 100 pieces by American designers, ranging from Marc Jacobs to La Reunion.

Guests, including co-chairs Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman and Naomi Osaka, adhered to the night’s formal dress code: American Independence.

2020: “About Time: Fashion and Duration”

The 2020 gala was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic, but its theme is still worth revisiting: In honor of the Met’s 150th anniversary, “About Time” took a look back at a century-and-a-half-old costume. Bolton found inspiration in OrlandoA 1992 film based on Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same name. “What I like about Woolf’s version of time is the idea of ​​continuity,” Bolton said. “There’s no beginning, middle or end. It’s a big fat middle. I’ve always felt the same way about fashion. Fashion is the present.”

2019: “Camp: Notes on Fashion”

For the 2019 exhibition, Bolton drew on Susan Sontag’s seminal 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’.” The essay describes a sensibility characterized by performance, extravagance, and a kind of vague bad taste embodied by figures like Oscar Wilde and grotesque aesthetic movements like Art Nouveau. Among The pieces on display were dazzling looks from Off-White, Schiaparelli, Moschino, Dior, Thom Browne, and many others.

2018: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”

The 2018 divine theme had hundreds of sacred items on display, including dozens of relics and objects sent from the Vatican (most of which never saw the light of day outside of Rome). Guests rose to the occasion at the annual bash, with Rihanna dressed as a pope and Katy Perry as an angel (wings and all).

2017: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art in-between”

Getty Images

Zendaya at the Met Gala in 2017.

The Met Gala toasted legendary Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and showed off her “stuff,” as she likes to call it. Some guests, like Rihanna and Caroline Kennedy, stuck to the theme and sported original pieces, while others interpreted the theme through other designers. The event was co-chaired by Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams.

2016: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology”

Getty Images

Claire Danes at the Met Gala in 2016.

This exclusive event is back in the future with technology at the forefront. Stars like Claire Danes lit up the party in a flared dress, while Emma Watson wore a five-piece Calvin Klein ensemble, which was made from recycled plastic bottles. The exhibition itself focused on the dichotomy between handmade and machine-made fashion, showcasing more than 100 pieces of haute couture and ready-to-wear.

2015: “China: Through the Looking Glass”

Timothy A. Clary

Beyoncé at the Met Gala in 2015.

The party celebrated China’s influence on Western fashion with a theme fit for an emperor. The exhibition was a joint effort between the head of the museum’s Asian art department and the Fashion Institute, showcasing looks from Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior Haute Couture. Attendees, from George and Amal Clooney to Rihanna (who wore a stunning yellow gown by Chinese designer Guo Bai), dressed fashionably for a night at the museum.

2014: “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”

Larry Busacca

The Olsen twins at the Met Gala in 2014.

The museum celebrates a major figure in the fashion world, but less known to the general public. Charles James’s theme was lively and highly anticipated, with 100 of his most important designs on display. Chaired by Sarah Jessica Parker, Bradley Cooper, and Oscar de la Renta, the event was filled with elegant, voluminous party dresses.

Previous topics

From designer throwbacks to celebrations of the supernatural, see all the themes of the past two decades below:

2013: “Punk: Chaos in the World of High Fashion”

2012: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations”

2011: “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”

2010: “American Women: Shaping a National Identity”

2009: “Model as Muse: The Embodiment of Fashion”

2008: “Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy”

2007: “Poiret: King of Fashion”

2006: “AngloMania: Imitation and Transgression in British Fashion”

2005: “The House of Chanel”

2004: “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century”

2003: “Goddess: Classic Mode”

2002: No topic

2001: “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years”

2000: No topic

1999: “Rock Style”

1998: “Cubism and Fashion”

1997: “Gianni Versace”

1996: “Christian Dior”

1995: “Haute Couture”

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