Met Gala 2023: The theme, how much a ticket costs and how to watch it in New Zealand

Composite of Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour and Kim Kardashian (L to R) against backdrop of the Met Museum
Here's everything you need to know. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Getty Images

It's the first Monday in May, which of course, means it's the day of the annual Met Gala: a highlight of the haute couture calendar and an event so prestigious, it has become a cornerstone of celebrity. If you're not on the guest list, you're no A-List - at least in the eyes of Anna Wintour, Vogue's legendary longtime editor-in-chief and the first lady of fashion.

Referred to as 'fashion's biggest night out', the who's who of the red-carpeted world - from young creatives to celebrities and industry heavyweights - congregate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the annual fundraising benefit. During 2021 and 2022, the Costume Institute hosted its first two-part exhibition on the theme of American fashion. Part one, 'In America: A Lexicon of Fashion', opened in the Anna Wintour Costume Center on September 18, 2021, and 'In America: An Anthology of Fashion' opened on May 5, 2022 in the period rooms of the American Wing. 

Here's what we know about this year's event and how you can see the star-studded red carpet and their eye-wateringly exquisite (and expensive) couture for yourself. 

What is the Met Gala?

As aforementioned, the Met Gala is an annual charity event to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute.

The gala is traditionally - except for in extraordinary circumstances - held on the first Monday of May, which marks the opening of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the museum each year.

The event has taken place on the first Monday in May every year since 2005 - apart from 2020, when it was cancelled, and in 2021, when it was moved to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Due to the 16-hour time difference, for us Aotearoa the event will be taking place on Tuesday, May 2.

Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, supervises the event and has done so since 1995. 

Anna Wintour attends GQ's Global Creativity Awards on April 06, 2023 in New York City.
Anna Wintour supervises the event, as she has done since the 1990s. Photo credit: Getty Images

What is the theme of the Met Gala 2023?

Each year the Met Gala celebrates the specific theme of the Costume Institute's annual exhibition, which also sets the dress code for the event. For 2023, the theme of the exhibition is 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty', to celebrate the work, legacy and life of the iconic German fashion designer. As such, the dress code is "in honour of Karl".

More than 150 pieces will be on display in the exhibition, many of which will be accompanied by Lagerfeld's sketches.

The fashion designer and creative director, who died on February 19, 2019 aged 85, was the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel from 1983 until his death. Throughout his six-decade career he also served as the creative director of the Italian house Fendi, founded his own eponymous label, and worked with the likes of Balmain and Chloé.

Guests are encouraged to pay tribute to Lagerfeld's life's work in their own unique way, said head curator of the Met's Anna Wintour Costume Center Andrew Bolton. 

How can I watch the Met Gala in New Zealand? 

You can watch the glitz and glamour of the red carpet unfold on a Vogue livestream, which will air on its YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts. For us in Aotearoa, it's expected to start streaming at around 10:30am on May 2 (6:30pm EST). 

Who is hosting the Met Gala 2023?

On January 18, Vogue announced that the hosts of this year's celebration would be Penélope Cruz, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer and Dua Lipa, who will also serve as the night's co-chairs alongside Wintour.

What happens at the Met Gala?

In short, it's all very top-secret. Guests must abide by a no-phone and no-social-media policy, although exclusive photos from inside the gala are shared by Vogue following the event. As per the magazine, guests will explore the exhibition, enjoy a sit-down dinner, and are treated to a performance by a high-profile artist, such as Justin Bieber or Rihanna. 

Who is invited to the Met Gala?

Again, Vogue is notoriously secretive about the gala's guest list, but the event regularly hosts Hollywood's A-List, as well as some of the industry's most illustrious figures. It has previously drawn the likes of Rihanna, Madonna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, while designers often attend with their muses, such as Marc Jacobs and Kate Moss, or Nicolas Ghesquière and Emma Stone.

However, it's also known that being an 'it' celebrity isn't enough: Wintour and her team approve every guest, so being in the fashion matriarch's good books is essential. 

There will reportedly be around 400 guests this year, although the event typically hosted around 600 pre-pandemic.

Despite earlier reports that she and her famous family might not be invited to this year's event, reality TV royalty Kim Kardashian has secured an invite. Speculation surrounding whether she'd been axed from the event arose following Kardashian's controversial appearance at the gala last year, when the star now infamously donned a gown once worn by Marilyn Monroe and allegedly damaged it

The dress, which Monroe wore to sing 'Happy Birthday' to then-president John F. Kennedy in 1962 at Madison Square Garden, was picked by Kardashian as an ode to last year's theme, Gilded Glamour - a reference to New York’s post-Civil War boom time. She also infamously lost 16 pounds (7.2 kilograms) in three weeks to fit into the gown, which was custom-made for the late Monroe.

Kardashian wore the dress for just a few minutes to walk the red carpet, before changing into a replica for the rest of the event. However, when the dress was returned to its owners - Ripley's Believe or Not! - the garment allegedly showed signs of damage following its brief return to the spotlight. 

As well as Kardashian, it's possible her half-sister Kendall Jenner has also made the cut, with the 27-year-old featuring on the May cover of Vogue - an issue paying tribute to Lagerfeld ahead of the gala. 

It's also been confirmed that Lagerfeld's beloved cat Choupette got her paws on an invite, with the feline's agent telling Page Six: "It's an event in honour of the legacy of Karl, and Choupette is obviously a central part of the legacy."

How much does a ticket cost? 

The cost for an individual ticket to the 2023 Met Gala is US$50,000, with tables starting at US$300,000. The price has risen due to increasing expenses, which happens every few years. Typically, brands will purchase a table and host their muses or favoured celebrities.