This Was The Theme Of The First Ever Met Gala In 1948

The Met Gala is one of the most anticipated events in fashion each year. The star-studded fashion extravaganza features the most interesting sartorial choices — from the most elegant dresses to the downright bizarre — based on the year's theme. Getting an invite to the event is not only expensive but challenging as well. In fact, even some of the most famous personalities don't get invited, and all the guests are pre-approved, as noted by the New York Times.

Each year, co-chairs of the Met Gala determine a theme that guests are encouraged to follow, and it coincides with the fashion exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But it isn't just a way to showcase the works of designers; it's also a fundraising event for the museum's Art's Costume Institute. As reported by Vogue, the exclusive celebration raises sums that reach eight figures each year. The history of the Met Gala dates back to the late 1940s, and although it was a big affair back then, it wasn't as exorbitant as it is today.

The history of the Met Gala

In the 1920s, stage designer Aline Bernstein and director Irene Lewisohn had amassed about 8,000 costume pieces from their work in theater, and Lewisohn established the Museum of Costume Art in 1937. In 1946, it merged with The Metropolitan Museum of Art and was renamed The Costume Institute (via Met Museum). A couple of years later, fashion publicist and founder of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Eleanor Lambert, came up with the idea of creating an annual fundraising event that would be known as the Met Gala.

The first Met Gala was held in December 1948, and it was a midnight supper that was called "The Party of the Year," per Newsweek. The theme wasn't as specific as it is today, but those who attended dressed up in the most elegant formal attires. Guests who received an invitation to the exclusive celebration purchased a ticket for $50. Today, the Met Gala is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art each year, but back then, it took place in different locations, such as the Waldorf Astoria, the Rockefeller Centre's Rainbow Room, and Central Park until the 1970s.

The Met Gala's themes

In 1973, French-American fashion editor Diana Vreeland was brought in as a special consultant for The Costume Institute. It was during her time that the Met Gala transitioned from being a society dinner to a more elaborate celebration of fashion, according to Women's Wear Daily. Guests were no longer limited to members of high society but also included big-name celebrities, such as Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Andy Warhol, Cher, and Elton John, among others.

The annual charity event turned into a huge party, and it was Vreeland's idea to encourage guests to wear clothing in accordance with the theme of the year's fashion exhibit. In 1973, the theme was "The World of Balenciaga," and from then on, it became the gala's tradition for guests to attend wearing themed clothing from various designers. Per Architectural Digest, Vreeland worked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art until her death in 1989. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour has been serving as the Met Gala's honorary co-chair since 1995.