1493610301863 - Met Gala – a costume party like no other

Met Gala – a costume party like no other

Held in New York City each year, the Met Gala is among the most spectacular, jaw-dropping, sometimes smirk-inducing red carpet events in the world.

Touted as an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute (the Gala event marks the grand opening of the Institute’s annual fashion exhibit), for many, including the guests, the night is more about who is on the red carpet, and what they’re wearing.

And dressing for the Met Gala is no simple matter of finding a glamorous gown or sharp tuxedo, as each year the dress code is dictated by the theme of the Costume Institute exhibit, and dressing down is frowned upon.

This year the show is dedicated to Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, and will showcase 150 of her creations dating from the early 1980s – only the second Costume Institute show to honour a living designer, the other recipient being Yves Saint Laurent in 1983.

* Photographer Stephen Lovekin on working the Met Gala red carpet
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Hugely influential but far from mainstream, and a favourite of Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams, Kawakubo’s designs often feature exaggerated silhouettes, unexpected materials and moody hues occasionally electrified with shocks of bright colour.

And while her clothes are punchy, edgy and command attention, the designer herself is one of the industry’s enigmas, shunning interviews, events and the limelight.

So what can we expect to see worn by celebrity guests on the red carpet? We predict lots of black, pops of shocking colour, puffball shapes, plenty of asymmetry, deconstructed biker jackets, lashings of signature raw ruffles and hints of traditional Japanese costume – especially in hair and makeup.

Getting it right on the night is not always easily achieved, as stars from Madonna (in a dress with exposed butt cheeks) and Kim Kardashian (encased in an all-encompassing floral number while heavily pregnant) to Sarah Jessica Parker (we’re not sure what that was) have found out the hard way in recent years.

With only a day to go, the internet is buzzing with rumours about the official guest list (and who has been left off).

As those who have seen the film The First Monday in May, which documents the planning of 2015’s exhibition and Met Gala evening, will know, the guest list (vetted by Anna Wintour) is a party planner’s worst nightmare, fraught with ever changing politics and power plays.

Last year saw just over 600 attendees, but it’s rumoured that numbers have been slimmed this year to make the event more intimate and private – perhaps in line with Kawakubo herself.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, known RSVPs include Gwyneth Paltrow, Frances Bean Cobain and mum Courtney Love, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Chrissy Teigen, Hailee Steinfeld, Lorde, Hailey Baldwin, Paris Jackson, Ruth Negga, Zoe Kravitz and Celine Dion.

While some stars (like co-chairs Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams) will wear Comme des Garcons, others will be dressed by the designers who are taking them, and as for the other 500+ guests – we’ll have to wait and see.

* The fancy occasion has been held since 1946, but has grown enormously in scale and reputation in recent years.

* The Costume Institute’s collection holds more than 35,000 costumes and accessories representing five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress, regional costumes and accessories for men, women, and children, from the 15th Century to the present.

* This year’s honoree Rei Kawakubo, now 74, has maintained her signature bob – with just a couple of minor alterations – her entire adult life.

* Her label Comme des Garçons means “like some boys” in French and was named for a line in Francoise Hardy’s song All the Boys and Girls from the 1960s.

* Anna Wintour, US Vogue editor-in-chief and a chair of the event since 1995 (excluding 1996 and 1998) oversees both the benefit committee and the guest list, with Vogue staffers doing the unenviable task of helping her assemble the list of invitees.

* Tickets start at US$30,000 per person and allegedly go as high as US$50,000, and while individual tickets are hard to come by, it’s almost impossible to snag one of the tables (there were 65 last year) which reportedly go for anywhere between US$275,000 and $500,000+. They’re typically snapped up by major sponsors like Apple and Warner Bros. and fashion houses such as Maison Valentino.

* According to Forbes, 2016’s gala raised approximately US$13.5 million.

* While attendees are encouraged to go all out, sometimes they show more than they intended, with every event clocking up wardrobe malfunctions, from trips and treading on other’s trains to more revealing slips (including our own Lorde last year) and even injuries (Kylie Jenner claimed her 2016 dress made her bleed).

* It’s not just about the outfits – guests hair and makeup is often equally as outrageous – last year Gigi Hadid’s metallic Met Gala manicure allegedly cost US$2000 (NZ$2890).

* Gala guests are given staggered arrival times. After the red carpet, there’s a receiving line with the hosts, then everyone proceeds to the exhibition for a sneak peek before continuing on to cocktails and, finally, a sit-down dinner and concert.

* Glorious Food owner Sean Driscoll has catered every year since Wintour took over the Gala. Last year, there was an apple dessert, said to be a not so subtle wink to the tech sponsor.

* The interiors for the event are as elaborate and OTT as the outfits – in 2015 a vase made of roses allegedly weighed in at nearly 5700 kgs.

* While guests are advised not to post on social media from inside the event (this was most strictly observed in 2015 while filming for The First Monday in May was underway), but most, especially the younger ones, tend to ignore this, allowing us at home a glimpse behind the scenes (like last year’s supermodel group selfie in the bathrooms).

Join us for live coverage of the Met Gala red carpet from 11am on Tuesday.