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.