Billed as the year’s biggest night in fashion, the Met Gala has returned in full flow after years of pandemic upheaval with a celebration of American design and a theme of gilded glamour.
Among early looks, that theme appeared to mean looks of black or white for some on in New York on Monday night (local time).
Vogue livestream co-host Vanessa Hudgens made her way up the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a vaguely Victorian black sheer lace gown with a long train.
She was joined among early walkers by La La Anthony, who wore a deep red look with cut out shoulders from LaQuan Smith.
“I’m practically naked,” Hudgens said.
Anthony, who helped to host Vogue‘s livestream of the night, said: “Those stairs are intimidating.”
If the Met Gala’s return feels like it has come more quickly than expected, that is because it has.
It has been just under eight months since the last gala, an annual fundraiser that raises eight-figure sums for the Met’s Costume Institute.
Pre-pandemic, about 600 A-listers from fashion, sport, music, film, TV, technology and beyond were invited.
This year and last, the numbers were closer to 400, while the 2020 gala was cancelled altogether.
More than $US16.4 million ($23.2 million) was raised last year, with the starry event the institute’s primary budget feeder.
This year’s gala coincides with the opening of the second phase of a two-part exhibit at the Costume Institute focused on American fashion and style.
The night’s dress code was gilded glamour and white tie – a nod to the Gilded Age, that tumultuous period between the American Civil War and the turn of the 20th century known for its robber barons, drama and grandeur.
This year’s walk up the Grand Staircase at the Met returned the gala to its customary berth on the first Monday in May, with the official livestream of the event appearing on Vogue‘s website.
Vogue‘s legendary editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has run the gala since 1995. She continues as one of the night’s honorary co-chairs, along with designer Tom Ford and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri.
The official co-chairs for 2022 were Regina King, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The cost for a seat at last year’s Met Gala started at $US35,000.
A focus on inclusivity in fashion this year may celebrate and include more unsung designer heroes than usual.
The event is the invention of the late Eleanor Lambert, a fashion publicist as powerful as Wintour in her day.
In 1948, she needed to come up with a way to pay for the newly formed Costume Institute, the only department at the Met that must raise its own money.
While many on Wintour’s carefully tended guest list follow the dress code, others go their own way. Interpretation is everything.
Think Rihanna in a papal hat, Billy Porter as a sun god carried on a litter by shirtless men and Lady Gaga peeling off layers as the fashion world came to a standstill to watch.
The gala also serves as a twisted time capsule of love gone wrong for celebrity couples who did not make it.
Kim Kardashian and Ye, the former Kanye West, first attended in 2013. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes went in 2008. Jennifer Lopez attended with Marc Anthony in 2011, then with Alex Rodriguez in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Ben Affleck joined her inside last year after she walked alone.
Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were among the “it” couples invited in 2014, while Selena Gomez and The Weeknd showed up together in 2017.