What is the Met Gala Anyway?

Monday is the fashion industry’s annual Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala. Under the direction of Conde Nast's artistic director Anna Wintour, the gala has become the undisputed event of the year on the New York social schedule and has raised more than $145 million for the Costume Institute (the party funds its operating budget in its entirety) to date. 

Attendees, which are all pre-approved by Wintour and have included everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow, Miley Cyrus, Beyonce, and Rihanna to Gisele, Madonna, the Olsen twins, Kim and Kanye, and every major designer you can think of, pay $25,000 for an individual ticket or commit to a minimum $275,000 for a table of 10.

As for the guest list, it is strict. While Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are confirmed to attend this year’s gala, Kardashian was reportedly banned in years prior. Moreover, according to a recent article by Vanessa Friedman, “Rumors have gone around for years that Ms. Wintour turns away guests she does not know or who she feels do not fit the image she wants her event to project. Radar Online reported in 2013 that she had “banned” cast members from the “The Real Housewives of New York City” from buying a table.”

Each Met Gala has a theme that coincides with an exhibit at the Costume Institute. Years ago it was Savage Beauty and coincided with the posthumous and recording-breaking Alexander McQueen exhibit. Since then, themes have been PUNK: Chaos to Couture, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, and China: Through the Looking Glass, which entailed an exhibit that explores the Chinese impact on Western fashion.

This year, the gala and exhibit honor Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her brand, Comme des Garçons. Kawakubo will be the first living designer since Yves Saint Laurent in 1983 to be the sole subject of the Met's blockbuster fashion exhibit.

"Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past 40 years," the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Andrew Bolton told Vogue. "By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she has defined the aesthetics of our time."

Vogue further notes, "The exhibit will feature about 120 Comme des Garçons womenswear designs by Kawakubo, dating back to the label’s first runway collection in 1981, all the way to her most recent shows. The pieces will be arranged by contrasting themes (East/West, male/female, past/present), which touch upon Kawakubo’s fascination with 'in-betweenness.' The mannequins featuring Kawakubo’s designs will also be more accessible than ever, as they will be placed at eye-level without any glass or other physical barriers between them and the viewer."

As for the co-hosts, which change every year, with the exception of Wintour, they are: Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, and Anna Wintour, with Kawakubo serving as honorary chair. The exhibit is sponsored by Apple, Condé Nast, Farfetch, H&M, and Maison Valentino.