Everything you need to know about the Met Gala theme

·4-min read

The Met Gala returned on the first Monday of May, the annual celebration of the Costume Institute's upcoming exhibition which, for 2023, will centre around the late Karl Lagerfeld. This year, that fell on Monday 1 May.

The spring 2023 exhibition theme is 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty'. The Met first confirmed the news at a press presentation during Paris Fashion Week in September and later announced that the theme of the gala would be "in honour of Karl".

karl lagerfeld chanel

The legendary designer sadly passed away in 2019, aged 85. He was one of the most prolific and celebrated fashion designers of all time and has headed up some of the biggest fashion houses in the world, including Fendi, Chanel and his own namesake label, all three of which he acted as creative director for until his death.

The exhibition will pay tribute to his genius, while the accompanying gala saw hundreds of his close friends and collaborators be inspired by some of his most iconic designs, celebrating his life's work with what they chose to wear on the night.

Below, we round up everything you need to know about the 2023 Met Gala. From the theme and hosts, here are all the details on the biggest night in fashion.

What is the Met Gala?

The Met Gala, which is also known as the Costume Institute Benefit or the Met Ball, is a charity event held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City each spring – and always makes for one of the most exciting celebrity-fashion events of the year.

the 2021 met gala
John Shearer - Getty Images

Often dubbed the 'Oscars of fashion', the event draws in the biggest A-list names, who will dress according to a set theme, usually in bespoke creations from the world's most impactful fashion designers. In previous years, guests have dressed to the themes of 'punk', 'camp' and 'heavenly bodies', while there have also been events that have paid tribute to specific designers, including Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo.

The ball tends to raise millions for the Costume Institute at the Met – which holds an annual accompanying exhibition – through the sale of tickets, which are bought by designers and brands. Tickets cost around $35,000 each, with tables ranging from $200,000 to $300,000.

law roach and zendaya at the 2019 met gala
Rabbani and Solimene Photography - Getty Images

What is the 2023 Met Gala theme?

This year's exhibition theme is 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty', which Andrew Bolton, the Met's curator, explained will not be a straightforward retrospective, but will pay tribute to his life's work in a unique manner.

"At its heart the exhibition will look at the evolution of Karl’s two dimensional drawings into three dimensional garments," he told WWD. "We could not do a traditional retrospective. For one thing, I think Karl would have hated that."

karl lagerfeld and cara delevingne
Francois Durand - Getty Images

"Even though one of his facets was that he was a historicist, and he would revisit themes in his work, he was always looking to the future in his own work — he hated looking back at the past," he added. "It was something he had a very conflicted relationship with."

How did guests interpret the 2023 Met Gala theme?

While some Met Gala themes can be tricky to interpret, and can see both subtle and bold takes on the idea, this event was all about celebrating Karl Lagerfeld, and so there were two clear ways to do this; wear one of his own creations or have something made that nods perfectly to his life's work.

A number of guests chose to pay tribute to the designer by wearing one of his own creations. Nicole Kidman, Naomi Campbell, Dua Lipa and Gisele Bundchen were among those to wear vintage Chanel, while Vanessa Kirby opted for vintage Chloé.

nicole kidman met gala chanel
Getty Images

Others chose to work with the fashion houses that Lagerfeld was so closely associated with; Margot Robbie were custom Chanel, Allison Williams wore a dress by Patou, Kate Moss wore Fendi and Cara Delevingne wore a design by Karl Lagerfeld Couture.

allison williams
Taylor Hill - Getty Images

But, probably one of our favourite ways that the theme was interpreted was to see other designers and rival fashion houses put their spin on Lagerfeld's aesthetic. We saw the likes of Versace, Valentino, Dior, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta and Schiaparelli put out their interpretation of his work, and it made for some great creations. Tweed, pearls, the Camellia, a monochrome colour palette, beautiful bows and embellishment were big themes on the night, and that was very Karl.

anne hathaway
Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images

There were, of course, also a few very direct references to Lagerfeld's beloved cat, Choupette.

jared leto met gala
Dimitrios Kambouris

Head here to catch up on every single look from the 2023 Met Gala, and for our best dressed round-up, head this way.

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