History Behind the Met Gala
Former fashion editor Helen Lee Schifter believes it is the most important night in fashion. What could this “it” be that is so important? Well, it is known and has been called by so many different names such as Costume Institute Gala, Custom Institute Benefit, Met Ball, Met Gala or by the formal name, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit. It is, according to most, an annual extravaganza held in New York City to fundraise and benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The event has a theme each year that is celebrated and the customs worn by the guests are based on the Costume Institute Exhibition. The tone of the event is set by the exhibition as the guests are to become creative in the fashion sense and match the exhibit.
The Background and History
One may wonder how and when did the Met Gala get started. It all began in 1948 as a way to benefit and raise money for the Costume Institute that was newly founded and would have an annual exhibit. The very first benefit and fundraiser was fifty dollar tickets that were for a midnight dinner. In 1973 things began to change from the fifty dollar ticket dinner to the event most associated with today’s celebration as it was influenced by Diana Vreeland, a former Vogue editor-in-chief who was a special consultant and influencer to the Custom Institute. This event is celebrated and considered by many as New York’s crown in glory for the high society or as some say The City’s social crown as it is such a luxurious blockbuster that it is also considered the jewel in the crown
Helen Lee Schifter believes that the Gala is so prominent that it is said to be among the world’s most exclusive events socially and also among the biggest fundraising benefits as it raises funds in the millions. This event is by far the Institute’s most notable funding source.
More History in Detail
As already mentioned it all started in 1948 with significant changes starting 1973. However, it was Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publicist who established the Met Gala and for many years to come; in fact, for decades, it was just one, of quite a few, benefits held annually for charitable institutions in New York with its many attendees being members of New York’s high society and of New York’s world of fashion. The venues of old from 1948 to 1971 have been the Rainbow Room, the Waldorf Astoria and Central Park as they have all held the event. Again, as a short recap it was Diana Vreeland who put the blueprint on the celebrating and fundraising of today. The event simply evolved into this extravaganza and classy affair with Diana Vreeland at the helm as consultant to the Institute. Initially with Diana it was still catering mostly to the societal set but it kept evolving until it began to include celebrities like Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Diana Ross and the like that were faces of the 70’s scene.