The Met Gala

The fact that today is first Monday in May probably means very little to most people, but it means everything to fashion industry folk. Today is the day of the annual Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala. Informally, the event is regarded as the greatest red carpet fashion moment of the year and is attended by both fashion industry big wigs and celebrities alike. Since its conception in 1946, it's become one of the most exclusive NYC social events of the year, even earning the titles "the Oscars of the East Coast" and "the party of the year."

Rihanna attending the 2015 Met Gala

The first gala was held 1946 as a fund raising event for the Met's Costume Institute, which is one of the only curatorial departments responsible for funding itself. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour became a chair for the event in 1995, overseeing the guest list and benefit committee, and used her influence in the fashion industry to transform the event and make receiving an invitation a serious accomplishment. Each year's event has a theme that corresponds to an exhibit opening in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

Met Gala looks from years past

Tickets to the event are not only wildly expensive, but also incredibly difficult to get. The Met Gala is invitation only and has a substantial invitation waiting list. Generally those who do manage to get a ticket are considered people whose achievements and/or mere presence will bring the most attention to the event and frequently has little to do with money or past/promised donations to the Met. Wintour has final say over every attendee, meaning even if a brand or organization buys a table she still needs to approve who will actually be sitting there. This can create some awkward difficulties which can be seen in the documentary The First Monday in May. The film follows the planning of the 2015 Met Gala and includes a clip of Wintour telling a fellow chair to find a way to uninvite select guests.

Bottom line — if you ever do find yourself invited to this prestigious event, cancel any and all prior plans and go. And if you happen to have a plus one you know where to find me ;)

Fast Facts:
- The Gala only started adopting a theme in 1971
- In 2015 the event raised more than $12.5 million
- Tickets to the 2016 gala cost $30,000 a piece, although many designers and stars attended as guests and thus did not pay for tickets
- Some themes cause more trouble for attendees than others, like 2015's Chinese exhibit and the racially charged costumes it inspired
- For further insight into the event checkout the documentary The First Monday in May, which follows the planning of the 2015 "China: Through the Looking Glass" Met Gala
- Tim Gunn claims he once saw Anna Wintour demand to be carried down the stairs by a bodyguard after the gala one year because she didn't want to walk or wait for the elevator
- Solange Knowles famously attacked her brother in-law Jay Z in an elevator after the 2014 event while his wife Beyonce stood by doing nothing to intervene. Fans now believe Solange was attacking him due to rumors of infidelity.

André Leon Talley

When the daily newsletter theSkimm asked André Leon Talley to tell their readers who is he is, he answered as with the following:

"I’m a larger-than-life fashion personage with a great deal of gravitas, having gone through five decades of fashion. . . . I’ve been at the forefront of great fashion moments in the 20th century and 21st century. So I’ve been through the chiffon trenches."

And while that is a lovely and vivid description it doesn't actually answer the question. The answer is that he is currently a contributing editor at Vogue after leaving his position as editor-at-large of the publication, a title he held from 1998 through 2013.

image via Vogue.com

Talley studied French as an undergrad at North Carolina Central University, going on to earn his Masters, and originally hoped to teach the language. After graduation however, he took at a job working for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine for $50 a week as well as volunteering for Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the late seventies Talley worked for both Women's Wear Daily and W magazine, continuing to expand his already impressive professional network.

In 1983 he landed the job of Fashion News Director at Vogue, eventually working his way to Creative Director (alongside Grace Coddington) before leaving to work for W in Paris. As a creative director, Talley helped to style and direct the fashion editorial shoots appearing in Vogue. Similarly to Coddginton, Talley became somewhat of an accidental celebrity after appearing in the documentary The September Issue. His celebrity grew after he joined the judging panel of America's Next Top Model from cycle 14 through 17. He is perhaps most recognizable because of his penchant for dramatic fashion, particularly over-sized caftans.

Talley has long been a champion for African American designers and has consistently pushed for more diversity in fashion magazines, both in terms of models and designers.

Fast Facts:
- He was raised in Washington D.C. by his grandmother, Bennie
- Talley has a Masters in French Studies from Brown University which he attended on scholarship
- Out magazine ranked him 45th in their 2007 list of '50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America'
- He appeared in the Sex and the City movie and in an episode of Empire
- Talley is close friends with Serena Williams, Kimora Lee Simons, and Mariah Carey
 

the Council of Fashion Designers of America

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, or CFDA for short, is a not-for-profit trade association for American based fashion and accessory designers. And if you're finding yourself still asking "But what is it?" don't feel silly. I had to do quite a bit of research myself to figure it out.

Founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert, a prominent fashion publicist of the time, the CFDA is intended to be an organization committed to furthering American fashion and providing support for budding and well established designers. It aims to educate both industry insiders and non-fashion folk regarding the business side of fashion and what it takes to succeed (and stay successful) in such a demanding field.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen accepting their award for Womenswear Designer(s) of the Year for their line The Row. The twin duo also won for womenswear in 2012 and accessories in 2014. image via Bustle.com

The organization offers a number of scholarships for high school, college, and postgrad students; hosts the CFDA Fashion Awards every year; and runs the CFDA/Vogue Fasion Fund competition in which young designers compete for a hefty cash prize and invaluable mentoring from an industry veteran of their choosing. Previous winners of the competition include Aurora James for Brother Vellies, Paul Andrew, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne for Public School, Joseph Altuzarra for Altuzarra, and Alexander Wang.

the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund 2015 finalists with some board members. image via Fashionista.com

In addition to the organization's educational endeavors, the CFDA has also held a number of charitable events supporting research and treatment for HIV/AIDS, sending relief to Haiti, Japan, and areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. In 1994 Ralph Lauren launched the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer program, which has since become a yearly event pulling in nearly $55 million to put towards breast cancer charities world wide.

So as you can see, the CFDA is no joke. It's influence reaches far beyond the borders of the U.S. and to be on it's Board of Directors is considered a huge honor. Diane von Furstenberg is the current CFDA President with her board consisting of fashion heavy hitters like Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Anna Wintour, Jenna Lyons, Tracy Reese, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren.

Fast Facts:
- They have over 430,000 followers on twitter
- At the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards Hillary Clinton presented Oscar de la Renta with the Founder's Award, the highest honor of the night
- The CFDA has collaborated with a number of designers on fashion and accessories lines at a variety of price points. Previous collaborators include Target, Gap, J.Crew, and Kohl's
- The organization has published nine books
 

Jenna Lyons

Some consider J.Crew the best store to stock up on wardrobe staples, others think of it a place to splurge on one special piece. Either way J.Crew has surely solidified itself as a necessary American brand and much of the credit for that success is due to Creative Director Jenna Lyons, the woman who thinks sequins are the new black.

image via Glamour.com

Lyons first became creative director in 2008 and has worked for J.Crew since she was 21. "I was an assistant to an assistant" she told Cindi Leive in an interview with Glamour. Her actual title was assistant designer in menswear and her first task was to redesign men's rugby shirts for the brand. She quickly worked her way up the ranks to the point that now I can barely imagine a J.Crew without her. Her signature style of mixing well tailored basics with loud, sometimes over-the-top details like sequins or feathers has become the new norm for the brand. And if you think her outfits look like they have been copied and pasted from a J.Crew catalog, then you would be absolutely spot on. Lyons is responsible for changing the catalog to a "Style Guide" meant to more closely resemble a fashion magazine editorial. Her influence on the styling and design of the guide is undeniable and many see Lyons as completely synonymous with the J.Crew woman.

Lyons was born Judith, not Jenna, in Boston, MA but moved to Palos Verdes, CA at the age of four. She was born with a genetic condition called incontinentia pigmenti which causes scarring, hair loss, and tooth problems. She began taking sewing classes at 11 partly as a solution to the problem of finding clothes to fit her lanky frame and partly as an escape from the bullying endured from her classmates. it wasn't long however, before fellow students began admiring her talent as a budding designer. "A girl in social studies passed me a note saying, "I like your skirt." I was like, Is this for me? It was major (Glamour)." She was named one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year in 2012 and currently holds a much revered position on the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Board of Directors. In the latter position she assists in choosing the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalists and winners.

images via 1. Instagram @theOutsiderBlog // 2. WhoWhatWear // 3. Jean Stories // 4. Vogue UK // 5. Vanity Fair // 6. Madame Le Figaro // 7. Elle // 8. How To Spend It // 9. WWD // 10. Jean Stories // 11. Vogue // 12. Where did U Get That // 13. Style and Forks // 14. Elle // 15. Popsugar

Fast Facts:
- Because of her genetic condition she wears dentures
- She graduated from Parsons Design School in 1990
- She has a son Beckett with artist Vincent Mazeau
- Lyons currently resides in Tribeca with her son and girlfriend Courtney Grangi
- She owns almost 300 pairs of shoes as seen in this video (and I want them all...)