It’s the Met Gala, baby! But does such an event still make sense?

21.3 billion impressions in 2023. Almost certainly be many more in 2024. The super-fashion patronage event celebrated on 6 May at the Metropolitan Museum in New York invaded social media. But does it still make sense as an event or has it become a showcase for its own sake, which, apart from the hype it arouses, does not change the stylistic temperature of fashion?

by Domenico Casoria


Suppose you are in possession of a smartphone, in the days immediately following 6 May. In that case, you will surely have come across the slew of celebrities dressed in floral-themed outfits that once again invaded social media (and, to a lesser extent, New York) for the annual Met Gala. The event, which many call ‘the Super Bowl of fashion‘ in reference to the National Football League final, is nothing more than a fundraising dinner for the Costume Institute, the fashion history section of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Or rather, those were the intentions of those who founded it in 1948, but in the last twenty-five years – in addition to charity – the Met Gala has become fashion’s most important social event, especially for famous designers and stars who dress according to a theme that changes from time to time. But how does it work? And is all that glitter gold? Or, rather, is all that glitters still gold?

It’s the Met Gala, baby

The architect of the success of all this is Anna Wintour, the historic editor-in-chief of Vogue America, who has been organising the Met Gala since 1999. Wintour not only controls every last detail (who to invite, what to have for dinner, what to wear) but is, to all intents and purposes, the one who has turned the event into a well-oiled machine. The Met Gala takes place every first Monday in May and is accompanied by the opening of an exhibition at the Costume Institute. Fashion brands (specifically, their designers) buy a table and invite – after the approval of the director – actors, singers, and sports personalities who are friends of the brand. The theme of this year’s exhibition, displaying 250 antique and extremely delicate dresses, was Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion. In other words, a kind of reawakening of the fashion that once was.

Dress Code 2024

The dress code instead was ‘The Garden of Time‘. It was inspired by the short story of the same name, published in 1962 by the English author J.G. Ballard, about an aristocratic couple living in a villa with a magical garden endangered by a mob that wants to destroy it. In order to forbid it, every night, the couple cuts a flower so that they can live another day in the enchanted world. Transported to the gala looks, the tale lost its philosophical approach, and the designers gave in to little flowers, beads, butterflies, or sand.

21.3 billion impressions

The Met Gala, however, is more than just a showcase. It is, above all, a gold mine for museum donations. A lavish party that this year cost $75,000 per head, 50% more than the 2023 ticket. Not even that high a price compared to an unparalleled return on the image, which reached 21.3 billion impressions on social media last year. In terms of content, for brands, the event equates to the creation of extravagant looks that aim to go everywhere online.

A kind of naval battle

Beyond the glamorous patina, however, the Met Gala is more like a naval battle, a strategic game of luxury brand positioning. The edition that has just ended with the overwhelming power of Loewe (designed by J.W. Anderson), which placed the looks of Wintour herself and half the audience of guests, but Balenciaga and Maison Margiela also climbed on the barricades, dressing Zendaya instead. What made the noise, however, were the absentees, Gucci above all, which, just as in the game where you have to sink the opponent’s ships, is repositioning itself after the farewell of Alessandro Michele (a frequent visitor to the Met Gala) and the appointment of the new captain Sabato De Sarno.

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