The Met Gala’s History and Decor Throughout the Years

There’s a reason “the first Monday in May” has become an expression in its own right: The Costume Institute Gala—better known as the Met Gala—is usually held annually at that time, and the fashion industry isn’t shy about pulling out all the stops.

The event has gone from an annual fundraiser attended by the fashion industry and New York society to a cultural phenomenon attracting global attention. This exclusive fête, with tickets costing as much as a new car, gives designers an opportunity to showcase their most spectacular work on their celebrity muses—and it’s all for a good cause. The Anna Wintour Costume Institute, home to the largest collection of fashion in the world, is the only department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that has to fund its operations. So, as its exhibitions have become more elaborate, it’s only natural that its benefits, decked with equally spectacular decor, would follow suit. Ahead of this year’s historic affair, which has a theme of “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” we take a look back at the evolution of the Met Gala throughout its nearly 80-year-history, from its guest list to its decor.

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