The Skinny On: The Met Costume Ball

You thought prom was a big fuss? Try the monstrous fashion madness that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala.

Hosted by Anna Wintour, the Met Ball is the tick that is Hollywood feasting itself on the blood of high fashion … Or is it the other way around? No one can really tell through all the air kisses and champagne fizz, but no problemo! All that matters is that if you’re a starlet who’s lucky enough to have a ticket, you can wear a dress that costs the same as an entire year of a private college education.

This caveat excludes most of us from going—but that doesn’t mean if you ever find yourself stuck in an elevator with Andre Leon Talley, you can’t at least know what you’re talking about. Here’s your cheat sheet on the exclusive Met Ball.

  • Each year, the Met Ball has a different theme relating to the exhibit at the Costume Institute. Attendees of the party tend to dress accordingly—one year was Anglomania and another year was superheroes. This year, the theme is models, in honor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show, “Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion.”
  • It’s colloquially referred to as “Anna’s party,” and only the most of-the-moment guests are invited. And those guests who can afford it! Tickets cost upwards of $6,500, and companies like Tiffany’s or Chanel buy tables for $65,000 to $150,000 a piece. The cash raises money for the Costume Institute at the Met.
  • While some couples attend together, like Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen (or Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese), designers typically invite starlets as their dates. But the pairings can get really weird! Like in 2007, when the creators and their muses included Michael Kors and Eva Mendes, Fransisco Costa and Christina Ricci, Valentino and Jennifer Garner, and Donatella Versace and Hilary Swank.
  • All the men wear black tie, which doesn’t seem to suit George Clooney. Last year, Clooney joked to reporters, “I’m wearing a skirt under here, and the sequins are really chafing!”
  • A couple years ago, a female peacock escaped from a 20-foot-tall gilded bird cage in the Great Hall of the Met. Organizers chased her—she’s called a “peahen”—around the museum until they snagged her and put her back in with her three peacock friends. I guess, like a true supermodel, she just had to strut her stuff.