This is what happens at the Met Gala after the red carpet

On May 6, 2024, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will host its famous Met Gala to raise money for The Costume Institute. The event will also kick off the latest costume exhibition entitled “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”, with “The Garden of Time” as the dress code.

The institution was renovated into the Anna Wintour Costume Center in 2014 with the help of Vogue's editor-in-chief, whose name is on the door. As a trustee of the Met, Wintour has spent decades growing the gala into what the museum calls one of the “most visible and successful charity events in the world.”

“It was a society event. People weren't very excited about going there,” Wintour told CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King in 2023. “Taking it over and trying to make a night out of it was quite intimidating.”

What exactly is the Met Gala?

The Met Gala is a fundraiser that brings together some of the biggest names from the most famous industries. Guests flock to New York City on the first Monday in May to show off collaborations with famous designers and brands for looks that take months to create.

“The Met Gala has always had one mission, and that is to raise money for the important work it does,” Wintour said.

Following an annual theme, guests work to reference historical garments, integrate innovative ideas and execute complex concepts that resonate beyond the walls of the Met.

“We're always interested in trying to reflect a cultural moment and what we think is happening in the world at a particular moment,” Wintour said of the invitees.

“Every year is different and we try to curate the guest list in a way that fits the theme of the exhibition,” Wintour said.

It's been the setting for notable and much-discussed pop culture highlights, from Rihanna's 2015 arrival in a long Chinese cape to Lady Gaga's multifaceted revelations at the 2019 Camp-themed gala. Over the past decade, fashion nerds, critics and consumers assessed the red carpet with great precision to understand through photos and videos the efforts (and sometimes mistakes) involved in preparing for the event.


Anna Wintour unveils Karl Lagerfeld exhibition ahead of Met Gala: his work “deserves celebration”

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What does the Met Gala look like inside?

While many have walked the steps to the museum and visited the exhibits, few have done so by wearing the finest pieces to party and spend thousands (sometimes millions) among the titans in film, sports, business, music and the society. That rare appeal is what drives many to follow and dissect the gala.

Hanan Besovic, the post-pandemic viral voice behind Instagram @ideservecouture, gets a seat next to the action. He will join a handful of influencers at the Mark Hotel — where many gala-goers are preparing for the event — on the day of the gala on the Upper East Side, five blocks from the Met.

There, Besovic will preview arrivals and create social content alongside a room of other fashion-obsessed creators, hosted by Meta.

As the hotel's guests leave their temporary hideout on the Mark after spending hours on hair, makeup and styling, they walk into a crowd of fans and press awaiting a first glimpse of their clothes before it's time to to queue at the steps of the museum.

“Everyone has one minute of our attention and then there's the next person,” Besovic said.

Usually the event chairs are the first to appear. This year, Zendaya, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Lopez are co-chairs along with Anna Wintour.

One by one, celebrities are carefully shuffled down the Met's carpeted stairs, where thousands of global outlets are on standby to photograph and capture from every angle. The seamless choreography is seen by millions through her, according to Vogue viral flows.

What happens at the Met Gala after the red carpet?

What happens next is what causes the most intrigue. In stark contrast to what happens outside, most of what happens inside the Met is not recorded.

“Those tickets are insanely expensive. The brands are buying up tables,” Besovic said.

It is common knowledge that the evening includes dinner and a performance. Cher, Rihanna, Madonna and Lady Gaga have performed among the world's most coveted art and notable artists in recent years.

Vogue is usually the only publication with an inside scoop. In 2023, they previewed the dinner portion of the gala, taking cues from what they said was one of Karl Lagerfeld's most famous gatherings: Paloma Picasso's Wedding Reception.

Those dishes look dainty, colorful and healthy in Vogue's photos, with chilled spring pea soup and Ōra King salmon served on vintage plates with an assortment of fruits and vegetables for last year's attendees.

Are photos allowed at the Met Gala?

“The only snippets we get are from social media,” Besovic says of the event's exclusivity.

Viral bathroom videos and selfies taken by celebrities are the only view inside. Katie Perry rushes back into her campy civilian outfit for the 2019 gala after bumping into Jennifer Lopez at the stalls. The Kardashians pose with Paris Jackson and a bunch of supermodels. Lil Nas X, Erykah Badu and Jack Harlow pose for a photo. Or celebrities post elevator videos, like the viral moment of Reese Witherspoon chatting with Cara Delevingne, Zooey Deschanel and Kate Upton. Ultimately, these are the only glimpses into the gala that you can scroll through before the common people get to work.

What else are they doing at the Met Gala?

When the gala ends, guests rush to the after-parties, many of whom bounce around New York City all night long. The Standard Hotel's 'Boom Boom Room' usually houses A-listers – in 2023 singer and actress Janelle Monáe was at the helm, according to Women's Wear Daily.

Brands and designers are also unleashing more fashion moments during the after-parties.

In 2016, when model Karlie Kloss hit the town after the gala, American designer Brandon Maxwell adapted her outfit for the 'afters' by cutting her structured dress into a mini. This year, designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Shayne Oliver are debuting a capsule collection, featuring approximately 50 pieces in the collaboration.

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