The Met Gala is fast approaching, with May 1 anticipated as fashion’s biggest night of the year. For 2023, the Gala will celebrate the newest Costume Institute exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” which commemorates the over 60-year career of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, Fendi, Chloé, Balmain, Patou and his own namesake label.
This year’s dress code is titled “In honor of Karl,” assuring there will be numerous references to Lagerfeld’s persona and storied design career over the years on the red carpet. But who makes the guest list — and how is it determined? Below, we dive into the various ways celebrities, influencers and more can earn an invitation to the “Oscars of fashion.”
At the end of the day, the Met Gala isn’t just a celebration of fashion; it’s a fundraiser, bringing in the majority of the annual funds needed to upkeep and maintain the Costume Institute’s expansive fashion collection. As such, philanthropists and Gala co-chairs who donate such funds — celebrity and VIP guests are able to as well, though it’s not required — are in attendance at the event.
The Met Gala features a range of co-chairs and honorary co-chairs each year, often tapping celebrities of the moment to assist with hosting duties. This year’s co-chairs include Dua Lipa, Roger Federer, Penelope Cruz, Michaela Coel and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, herself a longtime Met Gala veteran over the decades.
Where celebrities are concerned, the Met Gala’s guest list features top talents of the moment that are famed for their recent work of the last year, have longtime relationships with the entertainment and fashion industries and long-term partnerships or ambassadorships for various brands. The event also has a long history of serving as a hallmark moment for “breakout” stars over the years, including Rihanna, Victoria Justice, Elle Fanning, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Olivia Rodrigo, Hoyeon Jung and casts of television shows like “Gossip Girl” and “Riverdale.”
Naturally, when celebrities have spouses or partners — whether celebrity or not — they’re often invited to accompany their partner as well. Attendees including Julia Carey (with James Corden), Deborah Furness (with Hugh Jackman) and Elvira Lind (with Oscar Isaac) have all attended Met Galas with their invite partners in recent years. Oftentimes, celebrity couples will also coordinate and attend the event together, like Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker in 2022, Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz in 2021 or Idris and Sabrina Elba in 2019.
Cover stars of Vogue over the years, as well as those of publications from publishing house Condé Nast, frequently land invitations to the Gala. In particular, celebrities who have starred on Vogue covers are often anticipated as guests, as well as those shot on covers within the past year. The magazine’s May issue, which celebrates the Met Gala and its theme, often features stars — also co-chairs, though 2023’s is an exception — that will attend the event. This year’s viral May cover, which celebrated the career of Karl Lagerfeld, starred Naomi Campbell, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Devon Aoki, Shalom Harlow, Amber Valletta, Adut Akech, Natalia Supernova, Anok Yai and Liu Wen, who are all anticipated to attend.
Every year, the Met Gala features a live musical performer who completes a musical set for guests. In the past, the themed performances have featured acts including Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. All of the aforementioned stars hit the Met steps before proceeding into the museum to perform at the famed Temple of Dendur — though their songs are anyone’s guess. Rihanna’s 2015 set, for example, included a rousing performance of “Bitch Better Have My Money,” while Lenny Kravitz performed a multi-song set in 2022 with inclusions from Kacey Musgraves and Leslie Odom Jr.
The Met Gala couldn’t take place without sponsors, all of whom have representatives and corporate leaders that attend the Gala every year. These can range in variation from fashion and beauty brands to larger corporations, and occasionally governmental forces; the first Met Gala in 1973, for example, was sponsored by the Spanish government. In the years since, sponsors have included Ralph Lauren, Shiseido, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, Dior, Gucci, Amazon, Yahoo and Apple.
Both of the “In America” exhibits for 2021 and 2022, respectively, were sponsored by Instagram — with its CEO Adam Mosseri in attendance for each.
PHOTOS: Discover all the celebrities on the red carpet at the 2022 Met Gala.