Everything you need to know about the Met Gala 2023 — from the theme to the celebrity guestlist
The first Monday in May is days away and every fashion fan knows what that means. The Met Gala will make its grand return to the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, with the international style set feverishly preparing to take over our social-media feeds.
Dubbed the Oscars of fashion, anyone who’s anyone tries to get their hands on one of the exclusive 400 tickets, with prices rising this year from $30,000 (£24,000) to $50,000 (£40,000) for a seat. Of course, all the money goes to a good cause — preserving the Costume Institute at the Met — and it’s hardly like these A-listers can’t afford it. Last year’s event raised $17.4 million (roughly £14 million) and, considering the eye-watering price hike, the charity ball will most likely donate its largest sum yet.
The night also marks the opening of the Costume Institute exhibition, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, with the accompanying red-carpet theme instructing attendees to dress “in honour of Karl”.
The late German designer, who passed away in 2019, spent his five-decade-long career designing for major labels, such as Chloé, Chanel, Fendi, Jean Patou, and Balmain, as well as helming his eponymous brand. Therefore, expect plenty of vintage dresses created by the fashion icon, odes to his unmistakable personal style, and of course, cosplays of his beloved cat Choupette.
Here’s your ultimate guide to the 2023 Met Gala...
What is the Met Gala Charity Ball and how much does it raise?
Founded by iconic fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert (who also invented New York Fashion Week) in 1948, it started life as a high-society dinner party. It was under the leadership of the late US Vogue editor Dianna Vreeland that it became one of the most coveted, ultra-VIP events in the fashion calendar. It’s a legacy that current Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has been preserving since 1995 (when the cost of a ticket was a mere $1000) and she’s propelled it into the realms of politics with the likes of Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Mitt Romney attending the gala in recent years.
Nowadays it’s seen as one of the biggest fundraising nights in New York, raising $9 million (£7.2 million) in 2013 and $12 million (£9.6 million) in 2014 in one night alone via ticket sales and ads (last year a six-second ad space during the Vogue two hour live stream cost a staggering $1 million (£800,000). Of course, it’s all worth it - in 2022 the Met Gala red carpet generated a media value of $543 million (£435 million), which is higher than the Super Bowl.
All the money goes towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which houses f more than 33,000 pieces of clothing, jewellery and accessories that documents fashion from the 1400s to now.
The 2023 theme
As you can imagine, much thought goes into the Costume Institute’s annual exhibition and corresponding gala theme. Chief curator Andrew Bolton spends years researching an idea before going through several months of approvals — with director and president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Max Hollein and Daniel H Weiss, respectively —and Wintour all granted veto power.
According to an interview with Vogue France, he likes to respond to the prevailing zeitgeist — looking for topics that generate conversations, whether that is via broad concepts like “Camp,” “China: Through the Looking Glass”, and “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”, or specific people like Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Rei Kawakubo and, of course, Lagerfeld.
This year’s theme honours the late Karl Lagerfeld. “At its heart, the exhibition will look at the evolution of Karl’s two-dimensional drawings into three-dimensional garments," Bolton told WWD. "We could not do a traditional retrospective. For one thing, I think Karl would have hated that.”
While Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French director of The Met, said, “Karl Lagerfeld was one of the most captivating, prolific, and recognisable forces in fashion and culture, known as much for his extraordinary designs and tireless creative output as for his legendary persona.
“This immersive exhibition will unpack his singular artistic practice, inviting the public to experience an essential part of Lagerfeld’s boundless imagination and passion for innovation.”
Of course, Anna Wintour is the Met Gala head honcho, but each year she taps top-tier talent to help her co-host the event. This year, she welcomes pop star Dua Lipa, longtime Chanel ambassador Penélope Cruz, 2022 Vogue cover star Michaela Coel, and close tennis friend Roger Federer.
Last year, the co-hosts included Hollywood’s next billionaire power couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, actress Regina King, and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Each year, the guestlist is guarded with obsessive secrecy. But that doesn’t stop people guessing who will grace the steps. Many have pointed to the latest issue of American Vogue for clues as to who will be there on May 1. The issue was a celebration of the upcoming Met Gala and paid tribute to Lagerfeld by enlisting his favourite models, dressed in 10 different designers who were inspired by the former Chanel creative director.
The models included Anok Yai, Shalom Harlow, Kendall Jenner, Liu Wen, Adut Akech, Natalia Vodianova, Naomi Campbell, Amber Valletta, Gigi Hadid, and Devon Aoki, who are all likely to attend. It also starred his pet cat Choupette (who posed alongside Campbell), and according to her agent, Lucas Berullier, the owner of specialist pet influencer agency My Pet Agency, the famous feline has been invited.
“[I’d imagine] her entering with a big entourage — maybe Anna, or Grace Coddington. I think the way to show-stop would be [entering] by herself, or with the biggest celebrity, maybe Beyoncé,” said Michelle Baron, an illustrator who worked on the 2015 coffee table book Where’s Karl?: A Fashion-Forward Parody, to The Post. “Or maybe she’ll be escorted by Karl’s old bodyguard, Sébastien Jondeau.”
The pampered cat has more than 132,000 followers and was a muse to the designer, who even trademarked the colour “Choupette blue” as an ode to her bright-blue, almost violet eyes.
One of the biggest pre-gala controversies was the rumour that none of the Kardashians would be invited, after last year was the first time all six of the Kardashian-Jenner clan (Kris, Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, and Kendall) attended. But Kim recently confirmed her attendance on Instagram when she posted herself alongside Choupette at Largerfeld’s former office in Paris.
"Had a date with @choupetteofficiel in Paris. We then spent some time at @karllagerfeld's office to get a little inspiration for the Met," she captioned the dump. Many are now speculating that the reality TV star will attend in a custom Chanel dress, so watch this space.
Sources say that Paris Hilton will also make her Met Gala debut. “Paris got the invite from Vogue and the designer of her upcoming look and luckily, she was available to go,” TMZ revealed. “Unclear who she’ll be working with for the outfit, but a big accomplishment like this must warrant a big designer.” While Elle Fanning also confirmed her attendance in an interview with Variety: “I sort of sketch everything out so I did a little sketch – an homage to Karl Lagerfeld, of course. I am truly going on theme. I have a good story behind the look that is special to me. I’m excited.”
It’s also rumoured that Harry Styles will be staying away from the famous red carpet to avoid bumping into his many exes, which is understandable. Last month, he broke the internet when he was caught snogging Emily Ratajkowski in Toyko, much to the apparent dismay of his ex, Olivia Wilde, a once-close friend of Ratajkowski, who had introduced the pair.
The evening rundown
Although the Met Gala red carpet is one of the most prestigious in the world, it is only a short portion of each attendee’s evening. Once they make it up the legendary steps (with many given a 15-minute slot between 5pm -9.30 pm, although stars like BeyonceÌ often turn up when they please), guests mingle during a cocktail hour then explore the exhibition.
After that, there’s usually a high-profile performer (like Rihanna, Madonna, The Weeknd, or Justin Bieber) and a fancy multi-course dinner. In 2021, party planner Eaddy Kiernan told Vogue that, when it comes to deciding where the stars sit, “We really try to think very carefully about who’s sitting next to each other. Our ideal pairing would maybe be two people who we think will just get on like a house on fire but who may not even realise that they have a lot in common.
“So, with each person, we really do take time to think, ‘What will they talk about?’ We try and think a lot about sight lines and where people have sat in the past. And we try to make sure someone isn’t staring into the eyes of a former flame.”
The dinner layout is also tailored each year to fit the theme.
Selfie-shy Wintour employs a no-phone (and, by proxy, no social media) policy — though that doesn’t stop celebrities posting the infamous bathroom group shots.
2023 performances to expect
This is part of the evening is guarded with even more secrey than the guestlist. However, with Met Gala co-host Dua Lipa fresh off a 147 date world tour, its likely the British pop star could take the mic.
The most iconic looks of all time
Where do we begin? Last year’s most iconic (or, at least, controversial) dress belonged to Kim Kardashian (or rather, Marilyn Monroe). The Skims founder famously lost 16 lbs to fit into the Fifties sex symbol sheer, glittering “Happy Birthday” dress, which both outraged and delighted (mostly outraged) the fashion community.
Other notable ensembles include Rihanna’s 2015 “omelette” cape-cum-gown by Chinese couturier Guo Pei, which perfectly nailed the China: Through the Looking Glass theme. It weighed 25kg, featured a 16-foot train, and supposedly took more than two years to make — but was totally worth it.
Katy Perry has also blessed us with some fantastically camp looks, especially her Moschino chandelier dress that came with a built corset holding up battery-lit candles in 2019.
Long before the Kardashians topped the Met Gala best-dressed lists, Cher kickstarted the naked dress trend with her stunning custom feather-trim gown by Bob Mackie in 1974. The look was so fabulous that many stars have since paid homage to it, such as Beyoncé’s legendary Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci moment in 2015, and Madonna’s thong-based lace dress (also Givenchy) in 2016.
How can I watch?
Can’t afford a ticket? Then you can watch, officially, on Vogue’s livestream. But the real commentary happens all over social media, with armchair experts across TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter critiquing looks, berating celebs who don’t adhere to the theme, and appointing the best dressed.
Click through the gallery above to see the best Met Gala looks last year.