This year, like many before, the most important figures in fashion, art, and entertainment will convene on the first Monday of May at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibition, whose theme for 2019 is “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” Ahead of fashion’s biggest party of the year, we cover everything you need to know about the 2019 Met Gala.
What is the Met Gala?
- The Met Gala, formally known as the Costume Institute Gala, is an annual fundraising event that celebrates the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
- The first Met Gala was hosted in 1948 by publicist Eleanor Lambert as a midnight dinner with tickets costing $50 USD each. Earlier incarnations of the event were held at various Manhattan locations such as the Waldorf-Astoria and Central Park, and attended by members of New York high society.
- It wasn’t until 1972 when former Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland transformed the Met Gala into a more glamorous event that included celebrity guests. She moved the event location to the Met and introduced the tradition of themes.
- Since 1995, American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has been chair of the event, overseeing the guest list and benefit committee, as well as enlisting co-chairs which have included the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Amal Clooney. Each year’s event has the same theme as that of the exhibition and includes a red carpet, cocktail hour and formal dinner.
What is this year’s theme?
- This year’s theme is “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” inspired by American writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” for the Partisan Review.
- As for what camp means, Sontag wrote that “the essence of camp is its love of the unnatural: of artificial and exaggeration” in her introduction.
- Andrew Bolton, The Met’s curator in charge, told British Vogue that the exhibition will look at camp as an aesthetic and explore its many nuances. “People have a definite idea of what camp is – that it’s superficial, about gay men and transvestites,” he says. “And it is that, but it’s many other things too.”
- Bolton said to the New York Times that “We are going through an extreme camp moment, and it felt very relevant to the cultural conversation to look at what is often dismissed as empty frivolity but can be actually a very sophisticated and powerful political tool, especially for marginalised cultures.”
- Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, who is a sponsor of the exhibition, says that Sontag’s essay “perfectly expresses what camp truly means to me: the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture.”
- Previous Met Gala themes have included “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” “Manus x Machina, Punk: Chaos to Couture,” and “China: Through the Looking Glass.”
- The evening’s co-chairs will be Lady Gaga, Harry Styles (who will be dressed in Gucci), Alessandro Michele, and Serena Williams.
- We expect guests to wear designers that will be featured in the exhibition. These include Gucci, Moschino, Off-White, Jeremy Scott, Schiaparelli, Anna Sui, Valentino and Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga.
When and where will it take place?
- The Met Gala is held on the first Monday of May. This year, it takes place on May 6, 2019.
- Red carpet arrivals begin at 7:00 p.m. EST with bigger names arriving closer to 8:00 p.m.
- The event will be held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City.
- The exhibition will be on display at the Met from May 9 to September 8, 2019.
What do we know about the exhibition?
- The exhibition will have two parts. One will look at the origins of “camp” through Bolton’s exploration of 17th century Versailles, the Stonewall riots, and the use of camp in the queer community; The other will display how contemporary designers have interpreted “camp,” including a spotlight on Michele Alessandro’s Gucci as well as works of Balenciaga and Miuccia Prada.
- The exhibition will be designed by multi-award-winning Belgian scenographer and lighting designer Jan Versweyveld, who produced Broadway sets for Network and West Side Story, as well as created David Bowie’s “Lazarus.”
- There will be approximately 175 pieces including men’s and women’s clothing, paintings, illustrations and sculptures on display.
- The exhibition will be located in the Met’s Iris and B Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall where previous exhibitions such as “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” were hosted.