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  • Writer's pictureFashion and Retail Association

The Met Gala Throughout History

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

by: Grace Hawkins

The Met Gala, or the Metropolitan Museam of Art’s annual Costume Institute benefit, is currently one of the most iconic and most-watched events in pop culture, called the “Super Bowl of Fashion” by many. An invitation is hard to come by, and so many fashion-lovers like myself wish they could be there every year on the first Monday in May. But while the Met Gala right now is a seminal event in the fashion calendar, it started out as a much smaller, less star-studded event.

The first Met Gala was hosted in 1948, spearheaded by famous fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. Tickets were $50 each, and while that may sound cheap, it is actually $900 in today’s money. Most of the attendees were not the Addison Rae’s or Kim Kardashian’s of the celebrity world, but members of the New York elite or high fashion scene. One of the most famous previous attendees was co-chair Jacqueline Kennedy Oanassis, who helped the Gala grow into the spectacle it is today.

Now the Met is known for its extravagant themes, like this year’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion”, but prior to 1973, there was no theme. The first one was the “World of Balenciaga”, and has been followed by some like “Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design” in 1983, “The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire” in 1989, and “Jacqueline Kennedy: the White House Years,” in 2001.

The Met Gala has changed drastically since its beginnings in 1948, with the cost of tickets being close to $40,000, and guests from the world of sports, music, fashion, and Hollywood all combining. Many like myself dream of attending, but we all have to settle for sitting at home every May (or September like this year) and watch from afar.

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