Met Gala 2024: Red carpet dress code 'The Garden of Time' announced, four co-chairs revealed

Zendaya at the Met Gala
Zendaya’s long-awaited return to the Met Gala is coming with a new title - she'll be co-chair of the event alongside Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, Chris Hemsworth and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Photo credit: Lexie Moreland / WWD / Getty Images

Fashion's biggest night of the year is just around the corner, and the Met Gala red carpet theme has finally been announced - along with superstars Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny and Chris Hemsworth as this year's co-chairs.

Organisers announced today that the official dress code for the event, which will take place on May 6, is 'The Garden of Time'. The theme takes its title from a 1962 short story written by British author J. G. Ballard, set (as its title suggests) in a garden filled with translucent, time-manipulating flowers.

Ballard, who is closely associated with New Wave science fiction, often set his searingly relevant dystopian stories in eras of ecological apocalypse or rising dissenting technologies.

The Ballardian theme accompanies The Costume Institute's exhibition, 'Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion', which will run at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from May 10 through September 2. The showcase includes approximately 250 items and garments from the Met's extensive archive, many of which are too fragile to be staged on mannequins. The most delicate historical pieces will instead appear flat in suspended glass coffins - like Princess Aurora in the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, if you will.

"It is very much an ode to nature and the emotional poetics of fashion," Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute's Wendy Yu curator in charge, told Vogue of the exhibition. "One thing I hope this show will activate is that sensorial appreciation of fashion."

The year's co-chairs - alongside Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour - include Met Gala mainstays and debuts. Hemsworth will make his first appearance at the event, while Zendaya will return for the first time in several years. Honorary chairs include Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.

The complex, conceptual nature of this year's dress code stands in contrast to last year's commemorative nod to Karl Lagerfeld's legacy. The Met Gala theme often vacillates between straightforward retrospectives (such as the event's 1996 homage to Christian Dior, and the 1997 theme dedicated to Gianni Versace) and more artful, subjective prompts. One such fan favourite was the 2018 theme of 'Heavenly Bodies', which encouraged guests to dive deep into the rich, imagistic history of Catholicism.

This year, guests will have plenty of vivid reference points to interpret. In Ballard's story, Count Axel and his wife are trapped in their walled garden as an angry mob amasses outside their gates. As its time-reversing blooms dwindles, both are aware of the fate that awaits them.

Out on the red carpet, we may see literal interpretations of the fictionalised flowers, with distinct stems "like rods of glass" and petals encompassing a "crystal heart." But there is something dismal and melancholic about Ballard's vision. As Vogue instructs, "moody florals won't be moody enough," so expect reams of black or darker, more gothic blooms.