What it is, who can go, how celebrities are invited and more

Ah, the Met Gala – one of the biggest star-studded events of the year. Unless you’re a celebrity or fabulous designer, chances are you’ll never know what it’s like to attend the “Oscars of the East.”

But luckily, enough celebrities and guests have talked about the event that we’ve gotten a glimpse of what it would be like to actually attend this legendary ball.

From expensive tables to celebrity interactions, this is what the Met Gala is really like.

What is the Met Gala?

The Met Gala has one goal: to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met Gala, officially known as the Costume Institute Gala, is a fundraising event. Proceeds will be donated to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is famous because it is essentially an annual ball that serves as a glamorous high fashion arena for designers and celebrities.

It is hosted by the gala chair, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, with famous faces usually co-chairing the event. The 2024 Met Gala co-chairs were Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez and Zendaya. Previous Met Gala co-chairs included Michaela Coel, Penélope Cruz, Roger Federer and Dua Lipa.

Although it has existed since 1948, Wintour took over as chair of the gala in 1995 and since then it has evolved from a philanthropic event into the “Oscars of the East.”

Anna Wintour arrives at the 1995 Met Gala in a white dress with elbow-length gloves.

Anna Wintour has hosted the Met Gala since 1995, when the theme was “Haute Couture.”

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The Met Gala takes place every year on the first Monday in May (which obviously inspired the title of the documentary “The First Monday in May” about the event).

It’s not only the launch of the annual Costume Institute show, but also a time to recognize the East Coast’s influence on celebrity and culture.

The 2024 Met Gala took place on May 6.

What do celebrities do at the Met Gala?

In addition to a red carpet show, guests can expect a cocktail reception and formal dinner.

Guests arrive at the bottom of the Met’s famous staircase and walk up the red carpet. The tent is filled with flashing light bulbs and the cries of pedestrians crowding together to try to catch a glimpse of the stars and their dresses.

Gigi Hadid poses on the Met Gala red carpet on her famous stairs in a big red coat with a corset underneath.

Celebrities like model Gigi Hadid are going all out for their Met Gala outfits.

Chris Polk/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images

Between 600 and 700 people attend the event, ranging from A-list stars and designers to employees of Vogue, the Met, the Costume Institute itself and some of the brand’s sponsors.

Gala guests are led in and around the museum, usually through the upcoming Costume Institute exhibit, and are also allowed to mingle at a cocktail party. They then have access to exclusive shows and state-of-the-art dinners.

Although the decor and setting changes every year, the Met Museum’s Temple of Dendur room has become a recent favorite. Lizzo graced a stage there in 2023 when she performed two classical flute pieces and sang her own tunes.

This year, Cynthia Erivo joined Ariana Grande to perform covers and hits like “Into You.”

But one of the best parts of attending the Met Gala is the interactions with celebrities that wouldn’t happen anywhere else. Olivia Rodrigo chatted with Kendall Jenner while Jon Batiste and Cynthia Erivo danced together in 2022. And in 2023, Anne Hathaway seemed shocked to discover that Jared Leto was hiding under the costume of Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.

You’re also likely to see new romances forming — Swifties credit the Met Gala for Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s connection in 2016, and Wintour encouraged rumors that she was dating actor Bill Nighy when they walked the carpet together in 2023.

Can everyone attend the Met Gala, including non-celebrities?

Sorry, if you’re not an actor, celebrity, musician, sports superstar, or designer, you’re going to have to shell out a lot of money.

The cost to attend the Met Gala can range from $75,000 for a single ticket to $350,000 for a table. Sometimes designers can get a discount on the table depending on the size of the brand and its relationship with Vogue.

By the way, this money goes to the Costume Institute… nearly $22 million would have been collected in 2023.

Oh, and just in case you think you can save money, Wintour has a say in every invitation.

How are celebrities invited to the Met Gala?

Kim Kardashian poses for photographers at the foot of the stairs at the Met Gala, wearing a dress made from strung pearls.

The Met Gala invitation process is quite mysterious — and the public usually doesn’t know which celebrities will be showing up until they hit the red carpet.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

While it’s unclear how exactly celebrities are chosen to attend the Met Gala, attendees often find themselves in the midst of major career moments and/or recent fashion campaigns with the brands in attendance.

And the invitations are as elegant as the event itself. Clearly, Wintour wouldn’t settle for a generic e-invitation, so guests receive beautiful invitations featuring the Met Gala theme for the year, usually with an artistic touch such as a Richard Avedon photograph or painting by Man Ray.

There was never an age limit at the Met Gala until 2018, when the gala was deemed “not an appropriate event for persons under the age of 18.”

That means young Hollywood faces like Mckenna Grace and Xochitl Gomez are not eligible to attend. There is, however, an exception to the rule. Guests under the age of 18 are permitted to attend, provided they are accompanied by their parents.

Do celebrities pay for their outfits?

If you’re attending the Met Gala, you need to dress to the nines. Guests go all out when it comes to what they wear. Since the Met Gala is associated with a museum exhibit, guests typically dress according to a theme—sometimes the exhibit will honor a designer, like the 2023 theme honoring Karl Lagerfeld, or perhaps it will have -she a broader directive, like “Manus x Machina” or “Model”. like Muse.”

This year’s dress code was “Le Jardin du Temps,” which gave celebrities the opportunity to wear everything from vintage pieces to custom looks that combined technology and nature.

Celebrities are usually courted by designers to wear their custom looks, from dramatic and bold dresses to accessories. Sometimes it backfires – think Madonna’s risky look with Givenchy in 2016 – but more often than not it impresses, like Rihanna’s dress designed by Chinese couture designer Guo Pei in 2015.

But sometimes attendees buy their outfits — like Zendaya did this year with her historic Givenchy piece.

Rihanna poses on the red carpet at the Met Gala in 2015, wearing a loose yellow dress.

Rihanna stunned on the red carpet in 2015, wearing a dress designed by Guo Pei in honor of the Met Gala’s theme: “China: Through the Looking Glass.”

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

But if you don’t like a certain look at the Met Gala, maybe it’s Wintour’s fault. Journalist Amy Odell, who wrote a biography on the Vogue editor-in-chief, says all outfits are pre-approved by Wintour before celebrities take the red carpet.

It’s unclear what will happen to the Met Gala outfits after the event. Most of the clothing is rumored to be returned to the designers, but this is likely a case-by-case scenario.

The most valuable Met Gala outfits throughout history are also a mystery. However, Dua Lipa reportedly wore jewelry worth $10 million in 2023, and the Marilyn Monroe piece that Kim Kardashian wore in 2022 was described as “the most expensive dress in the world.”

Why is the Met Gala controversial?

Jeremy Pope attends the 2023 Met Gala.

The Karl Lagerfeld theme for the 2023 Met Gala has been criticized, given some of the views Lagerfeld expressed throughout his life.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Some celebrities don’t like the Met Gala. Gwyneth Paltrow said she had no fun at all: “I’m never going back there again. It was so no fun. It was hot. There were too many people. I didn’t have any fun at all. appreciated,” said the Goop specialist.

Amy Schumer also hated the event, calling it a “prank” on Howard Stern and saying the entire event was like a “punishment.”

Demi Lovato also left the event early and said a star treated her so terribly that she wanted to drink alcohol, so she left to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

And then there was Lena Dunham, who sparked intense backlash after criticizing not only the Met Gala, but also Odell Beckham Jr., the famous New York Giants wide receiver she sat next to.

Some Met Gala themes have also come under scrutiny. Many took issue with Karl Lagerfeld’s 2023 theme, as the late designer often expressed offensive opinions throughout his life, such as criticizing curvy women and saying he was “less enthusiastic” about same-sex couples who adopt children.

Who is not allowed at the Met Gala?

Much like the secretive approach to Met Gala invitations, it’s also unclear who is not it welcome to the annual event.

Tim Gunn claimed he wasn’t invited to attend, and “Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart said in 2022 that she didn’t believe she would be allowed to return after criticizing the extensive efforts of Kim Kardashian to fit into petite clothes for the event.

But the one star Wintour confirmed was excluded from future fundraising festivities? It would be former US President Donald Trump.