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Everything You Need to Know About the Met Gala 2021

Lady Gaga at the 2019 Met Gala
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic via Getty Images

You know the Met Gala is really happening when the latest update from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is about the menu. On Tuesday, organizers announced that for the first time in the extravaganza’s history, the food on the table will be entirely vegan. We’ll find out whether or not it’ll continue to be almost entirely neglected on September 13, when the Met Gala makes its IRL return alongside the first part of the institute’s first-ever two-part exhibition, titled simply “American Fashion.” In addition to doubling up, the institute is celebrating its 75th anniversary by inviting only the very best to host the evening—Timothée Chalamet among them. Stay up to date on everything else we know ahead of the red carpet’s most major comeback yet, here.

Why double up?

“We very consciously wanted this to be a celebration of the American fashion community, which suffered so much during the pandemic,” Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, told the New York Times. Though, the event is also a major source of fundraising for the Costume Institute. It missed out on its chance to raise roughly $15 million last year, and did not want to completely sit out 2021 either. In any case, who doesn’t want to party after more than a year cooped up indoors?

What’s the difference between the two?

The first, which takes place on September 13 to coincide with New York Fashion Week, will apparently be “more intimate.” The accompanying exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, will get deep, exploring 20th- and 21st-century fashion’s ties to equity, diversity, and inclusion. It’ll also include two centerpieces: a mini American home with transparent walls, and a projection of a film by Beyoncé favorite Melina Matsoukas.

The second gala, which isn’t until 2022, marks a return to the traditional first Monday in May. Its accompanying exhibition, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” spans from 1670 to 1915, in the museum’s American Wing. Period rooms like a 19th-century parlor will play host to pieces by designers like previous Met Gala honoree Charles James. (There’ll also be a look back at the legendary face-off between French and American designers known as the Battle of Versailles.) An array of American film directors will take charge of the displays. Bolton has so far chosen Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, and Bradford Young, the cinematographer behind Selma, partly out of recognition that all of the Costume Institute’s curators are white.

Who’s hosting?

Last year’s were supposed to be Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Nicolas Ghesquière, and this year’s are equally star-studded, albeit much younger. None other than Timothée Chalamet and Billie Eilish, plus inaugural youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman and the Women’s Tennis Association’s no. 1 star Naomi Osaka. (The latter recently broke into fashion with a Louis Vuitton campaign and a swimsuit collab with Frankies Bikinis.) It’ll be all four’s first time appearing on the Met Gala red carpet. Rounding out the headliners are honorary chairs Tom Ford, Anna Wintour, and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri.

Who will attend?

Anna Wintour will no doubt invite her most loyal devotees (and most generous donors), particularly for the more intimate gala in September. It’s unclear just how much they’ll whittle down the guest list, which in past years has surpassed 500. It could be a first for Streep, as well as an unlikely celebrity: Mark Zuckerberg. (As the Times points out, Instagram is one of the show’s main sponsors.)

What will they wear?

There will be an emphasis on American designers, of course. Perhaps Wintour herself will likely take a break from her usual Chanel. (And perhaps replace with a typically staid option like Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera.) Much of fashion Twitter is already calling for attendees to wear Black designers, from the influential Willi Smith to contemporary favorites like Christopher John Rogers and Telfar Clemens. Though don’t expect the European houses, who are often major financial supporters, to completely sit out the event either—particularly Prada, given Chalamet’s involvement.

What’s on the menu?

A question that’s perhaps never been asked in the gala’s history; the only part of the dinner anyone, whether in attendance or not, cares about is who’s seated next to whom. Perhaps that’ll change this year, because the institute is making its first-ever departure from catered meals. Ten popular New York-based chefs have been tasked with creating the menu, which marks another first: All of the food will be vegan. It turns out Katy Perry was ahead of the curve when she transformed into a plant-based hamburger to party after the gala’s last IRL edition.

What about the pandemic?

The Costume Institute seems to have learned from experience. Bolton cautioned the closest date, September 13, is “pending government guidelines.” Stay tuned for additional details; New York City is back to regularly changing up its guidelines as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread.

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