From The Theme To The Guest List: All Your Met Gala Questions, Answered

Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The first Monday in May has become synonymous with the Met Gala. Outrageous costumes and gorgeous haute couture is all par for the course at the annual event, and watching some of the most influential people in the world ascend the grand steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art never fails to both shock and delight us.
If you're even vaguely tapped into celebrity culture or the goings on in the fashion industry, then you probably spend a significant portion of the day poring over the fashion and critiquing it in your group chats. Which means you probably also have questions about the event itself. Like, what is the Met Gala? How much does it cost to attend, and how are people invited? And who decides the theme, anyway? Ahead, we answer all of those questions and more.
If you want to read more about the 2024 Met Gala specifically, we've also broken it all down for you.

What Is The Met Gala?

While the Met Gala is best known for being one of the most exclusive events of the year, it does also serve a specific function. The event marks the opening of the annual spring exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute and is a fundraiser for the Institute. Since its inception in 1946 (two years before the first Met Gala), the Costume Institute has been the only curatorial department at The MET that is required to raise its own funds, and thus, the Met Gala was born.
The Met Gala is undeniably successful in raising the funds, and per Vogue Business, the 2023 gala raised a record $22 million USD. It's also a powerful branding exercise for Vogue, and last year, the magazine saw a 713% increase in social engagements from 2022, with 114 million people clicking on posts relating to the Met Gala. Further to this, there were 12.3 billion (yes billion) impressions on #metgala across all social platforms. Huge.

When Was The First Met Gala?

The first Met Gala was hosted by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, in 1948. Predictably, a lot has changed in the 76 years since, and what was once a more modest banquet dinner is now the biggest event in the annual fashion calendar.

Where Is The Met Gala Held?

The Met Gala is held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The red carpet is held on the museum's grand staircase, which you might recognise from Gossip Girl, though it is completely transformed for the gala each year, with a unique carpet spanning the steps, with grand curtains protecting the red carpet arrivals from the public's prying eyes.

Who Decides The Met Gala Theme?

Though the inaugural gala took place in 1948, the annual theme was introduced decades later, in 1973, with the first being “The World of Balenciaga”. In the years since, the Met Gala theme has always aligned with the opening of The Costume Institute's spring exhibition, with the dress code dictating that attendees must wear costumes that celebrate the theme of the exhibition itself.
While many people assume Wintour chooses the Met Gala theme each year, that's not the whole picture. Since the theme of the event depends on the subject of the annual spring exhibit at The MET's Costume Institute, it's the Institute's curator in charge (currently Andrew Bolton), who selects the theme that must then be signed off by the museum’s director and president for approval, before being presented to Wintour for her final sign-off.
Over the years, Bolton hasn't been shy about his close working relationship with Wintour, so on a purely speculative basis, we're sure she's heavily involved in this process from the beginning. "It would be difficult to do it without her support," Bolton previously told Vogue France. "Anna works out what sponsors would be appropriate for the exhibition. Sometimes I have an idea, and it’s less of a big idea or popular idea, which is not terribly appealing to sponsors."

Who Hosts The Met Gala?

Since taking the reigns of American Vogue in 1995, the Met Gala has been hosted by the magazine's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour. Though it's always been a hot ticket, the grand scale of the event is credited to Wintour, who was responsible for transforming the red carpet into the most watched fashion event of the year.
Each year, Wintour also announces a small group of co-chairs, who join her as hosts and welcome the star-studded guests to the Met Gala. In 2024, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Lopez, and Zendaya are all co-chairs alongside Wintour.

Can Anyone Go To The Met Gala?

The short answer to whether anyone can go to the Met Gala is no. Each year, the guest list is meticulously pored over by Wintour herself, so without her stamp of approval, you're unlikely to find yourself on the elusive 600-strong guest list.
Generally speaking, you need to be extremely rich and/or famous, married to someone extremely rich and/or famous, donate a lot of money to the Costume Institute, work at Vogue, or perform at the event to get an invite. Even amongst the most influential circles, invitees still need to have a cosy relationship with a fashion house or brand (Saint Laurent and Amazon are just two examples) that has bought a table, to receive an invitation.
In recent years, the guest list has also expanded beyond A+++ list celebrities, high-profile politicians, and millionaires to include social media content creators. Though this is somewhat contentious with Met Gala purists, it also makes sense when you consider that social media platforms have become big sponsors for the event. Creators such as Emma Chamberlain have even hosted the official Vogue red carpet live stream, so we can only assume Vogue and Wintour are on board with the development.
In 2024, TikTok is one of the lead sponsors of both the exhibition and the gala itself, so we can likely expect more than a few TikTok creators in attendance as well.

How Much Does It Cost Celebrities To Attend The Met Gala?

The dollar-value of a Met Gala ticket has changed significantly since the inaugural 1948 gala, where tickets were reportedly $50 USD a pop. In 2024, the ticket price has increased again, to $50,000 a seat, and the cost of a table started at $300,000 USD, per the Associated Press.
That said, there's no booking link that's sent out to publicists around the world for celebrities to fight over like tickets to the Eras Tour. Usually, brands like Amazon and TikTok, or fashion houses like Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, will purchase an entire table and invite brand ambassadors and key celebrities to attend on their behalf, thus technically costing the celebrity nothing to attend.
Back in 2012, model Kate Upton told The Hollywood Reporter that she paid Anna Wintour $25,000 USD for a single ticket, and while we respect the initiative, we have doubts that would happen today. And if it did, Wintour's price would likely be far higher.

What Happens Inside The Met Gala?

Though photography and social media posting is strictly banned at the Met Gala (and it's a rule that is usually — though not always — followed), the event is basically what you'd imagine.
After walking the red carpet, attendees are treated to cocktail hour, before receiving a tour of the exhibition and being seated for a formal dinner. Each year, attendees are also treated to a performance from a high-profile musician, which in previous years, has been anyone from Rihanna to Lenny Kravitz, and Madonna.
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