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Greatest Show on Earth: The Met Gala


Every year, the first Monday in May is a special night for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vogue Magazine, style-centered celebrities, and fashion elites. The Met Gala: a sacred meeting and the closest thing to Oscars Night the fashion world has. This glittering fashion’s prom night, as well as the Grammys and Oscars of fashion, has become even more attractive in recent years thanks to the visibility enabled by social channels. What was once a closed event with minimal exposure can now be guaranteed the front page of mainstream.

The very beginning

The Met Gala is a nickname for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala. It’s basically an opening-night party and fundraiser for an annual fashion exhibiton curated by the Costume Institute, the museum’s fashion department, and the only curatorial department at the Met that should finance fund itself. Each ticket costs about $30,000 and almost every celebrity you can think of attends. (as long as they’re approved by Anna Wintour, the evening’s true host).

Each year there’s a “theme” for the clothes featured in the museum exhibit, which is the also the dress code for the party. In 2018, the dress code was “Sunday best” for an exhibit about Catholic dress. Other previous themes have centered on people like Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo or styles like punk. This year, the theme was “camp,” inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, “Notes on Camp.”

The Met Gala red carpet is the greatest couture show on earth!

The Met Gala is well-known for its best-dressed and worst-dressed celebrities, socialites, and businesspeople who walk the red carpet in their interpretation of the theme. Unlike the Oscars, stars don’t hold back with conservative dress choices at the Met Gala, and fans love to watch their favorites take style risks to interpret the exhibition’s theme year after year. Bold and creative is encouraged, topical is expected. Those who could not interpret the theme are banished to the forgotten, especially on Instagram. The more people have fun with the subject matter, the likelier they are to drop the mic on social. There’s also the factor of celebrities and their brand partnerships – whether or not an actress has been paid by a brand to wear its clothes as part of a campaign deal.

Why do people care so much about who goes?

It is simple. Big money and a lot of celebrities … and egos. Even if someone can afford a $30,000 ticket, you have to be approved by Wintour and placed by Vogue at a table. The seating chart is drafted in December, a full five months before. Rumor has that tickets can even cost up to $50,000. Tables go for $275,000 to $500,000. They cost even more if they're paid for by sponsors. Yahoo sponsored the Met Gala 2015 and reportedly paid $3 million for two tables. Likewise, Gucci was the official sponsor of the exhibition this year. In addition, Louis Vuitton and Burberry are buying table, as they have done for many years. Riccardo Tisci, now creative director at Burberry, has attended for many years, too, not to mention dressing some of the biggest guests during his tenure at Givenchy. That’s why some people call the night ‘an ATM for the Met’.

What Brands Can Learn From the Met Gala?

Met Gala is undoubtedly very successful in attracting consumer attention. But how much should a brand cover this high-end costume party so that it can make itself talked?

Influencer marketing is surely widespread in this sector, and the market is already fulled up. Over half of fashion brand posts tag an influencer, yet only 62% of those brands see aggregate lifts from influencer usage, forcing brands to rethink influencer strategies overall. Celebrity influencers — for brands that can afford to work with them — show the greatest return on Instagram thanks to their outsized followings. It seems that for exclusive events like this, brands need to go a step further to stand out. – “Met Gala muses: designers and their dates over the years” (04.2019) – “The Met Gala 2019: Everything You Want To Know ” (05.2018) – “Inside The Met Gala: The Money Behind Fashion's Biggest Night" (04.2017) – “Why is the Met Gala such a big deal?” (05.2019)