Zendaya, Bad Bunny and a Threat of a Picket Line at the 2024 Met Gala


On Monday night, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will play host to one of the biggest fund-raising events and starriest parties of the year: the annual Costume Institute Benefit or, as it’s been known for years, the Met Gala.

The event, which raises millions of dollars for the museum’s self-funding fashion wing, has become known for its audacious red carpet, with a highly exclusive guest list handpicked by Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor and Condé Nast executive.

But this year’s event has been unusually shadowed by drama. The union representing employees of Condé Nast publications including Bon Appétit, GQ, Vanity Fair and Vogue escalated the stakes in its long-running contract negotiations on Saturday, telling the company in a video posted on X that if management didn’t meet the union at the bargaining table, its members would “meet you at the Met,” setting up the possibility of a picket line during Vogue’s biggest night. A representative from the New York Police Department said that there were no street closures planned and that the police would have “an adequate security deployment.”

Under Ms. Wintour’s leadership, the Met Gala has increasingly opened its arms to tech leaders — and its palms to their sponsorship — including Jeff Bezos and Tim Cook in past galas. This year, Shou Chew, the chief executive of TikTok, the primary sponsor of the Costume Institute’s exhibition this spring, was named an honorary chair of the gala. In the weeks since that announcement, Mr. Chew has been summoned to appear before a congressional committee, and the company’s Chinese owner has been told that TikTok will be banned in the United States if it is not sold within nine months.

But fashion is the main event here, with previous dress codes playing it straight or challenging guests to think outside the box. Ahead of the Costume Institute’s spring 2019 show, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” gala invitees were asked to dress with an air of “studied triviality.” The spring 2022 dress code, “gilded glamour,” had little to do with the corresponding exhibition, while the next year’s dress code — “in honor of Karl” (Lagerfeld, of course) — was a perfect match for the 2023 exhibition, dedicated to that designer’s 65-year career.

The dress code for the gala on Monday night is “Garden of Time,” an apparent reference to a 1962 short story by the British writer J.G. Ballard in which aristocrats living in a walled estate are menaced by the advance of a violent rabble. But the theme also nods to the subject of the spring exhibition, titled “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

The show will feature some 250 objects on view from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection, including garments too fragile to be traditionally displayed.

Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute’s curator, wrote in an essay about the exhibition, “The extreme fragility of these garments precludes them from being dressed on a mannequin, so in the exhibition they are displayed flat in glass cases to prevent further deterioration.”





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