By: Emily Safier  | 

Fashion’s Biggest Night Out is Back

The Met Gala, officially named The Costume Institute Gala, was established in 1948 by fashion icon Eleanor Lambert as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This institute was and remains independently-funded because fashion was not recognized as art when this section initially opened. The annual gala is a glamorous, star-studded event, which takes place on the opening date of the Costume Institute Spring Fashion Exhibit. The first Met Gala, costing guests $100 a ticket ($830 in today’s currency when adjusted for inflation), was a humble event featuring an orchestra, fine dining and elegant attire. In 2021, the cost was an astronomical $30,000 a ticket, or $300,000 a table, with musical performers by Tony Award Winners, Broadway stars and pop star Justin Bieber dining consisted of a 10-course vegan meal, and renowned designers — such as Oscar de la Renta and Versace — in the business. The initial quaint gala became the “extravaganza” it is today with the vision of Anna Wintour, Artistic Director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine. Her first gala —which sold out at $1,000 a ticket in 1995 — was a smashing success thanks to the enormous media coverage surrounding the celebrity attendees and fashion designers. Over the course of two decades worth of Met Galas, Wintour raised nearly $175 million. 

This year's Met Gala, themed “In America,” raised a record $16.75 million. The Gala is the main source of income keeping the museum's fashion department alive. Due to the decline in museum visitors as a result of COVID-19, the Met lost approximately $150 million in revenue; in addition, their main source of funding, the annual Gala, was cancelled. 

In past years, the Met’s biggest sponsors were corporate businesses ranging from Amazon to Apple, as well as fashion houses Gucci and Versace. The Gala allows companies to advertise their brand by outfitting celebrities in their respective labels for red carpet appearances, and often signing them on as brand ambassadors. In more recent years, tech companies including Amazon and Instagram have slowly participated in this lavish benefit. This year, Instagram sponsored the gala — reported to be a sum between $1 million and $3 million — the exhibitions and the Met catalogue. 

The Met Gala is no stranger to social media. Being the second most-followed museum Instagram account behind the Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA), the Met is well-versed in social media platforms and their influence on viewers. For the 2019 Gala, the Met partnered with TikTok to advertise the benefit. In less than 48 hours, they garnered over 170 million views and obtained major digital publicity. They recognize social media as an opportunistic marketing platform, with the ability to grow their audience digitally. Over the course of an almost-entirely virtual year, Instagram — with its 1 billion global users — became a tool capable of hosting online museum tours and showcasing works of art. As Met spokeswoman stated, by “attaching their name to such a defining, high profile gala secures their cultural standing,” Instagram has much to gain from such a sponsorship deal.

Photo Caption: The Charles Engelhard Court of the Met

Photo Credit: Pixabay