Toast of the town! The annual Met Gala has been the biggest night in fashion since the 1940s — and being a co-chair for the event has become a coveted title.
The Met Gala was established in 1948 to raise money for then-newly founded Costume Institute. With the help of Vogue, which is a longtime partner for the event, the gala has evolved into the most talked about night in the fashion industry.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has housed the gala and the corresponding fashion exhibit since the early 1970s, but before that the Met Gala was held at a variety of New York City venues, including the Waldorf-Astoria, Central Park and the Rainbow Room.
The role of celebrity and socialite co-chairs dates back to 1973. That year, there were two events: one in March and one in December, with Phyllis Ellsworth Dillon helming the second bash (the theme was “The 10s, the 20s, the 30s: Inventive Clothes: 1909–1939.”)
Philanthropist Jane Engelhard was the co-chair for the “Romantic and Glamourous Hollywood Design” event and the “American Women of Style” fete in 1974 and 1975, respectively, before Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis brought her own elegance to the role in both 1976.
It wasn’t until 1995 that Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, came on board as the chairperson for the Costume Institute. Since 1997, she has been a co-chair for every Met Gala that has taken place in the Big Apple. In 2021, however, the fashion icon stepped back and took on the role of one of the honorary co-chairs for the first time.
“I was very honored when they first asked me to become involved [with the gala] because there was such a tradition of Vogue always supporting the Met,” Wintour told the Business of Fashion in April 2017. “I thought of it with great affection and connection [when I first started at the magazine] and I think obviously we have opened it up to maybe a larger world than the society world that it was when Mrs. [Diana] Vreeland was there. It was more society and fashion, and we broadened that.”
In the early 2000s, Nicole Kidman found herself as one of the first Hollywood A-Listers asked to be a co-chair by Wintour. The honor has evolved in the decades that have followed with the 2021 list of co-chairs including actors, athletes and designers.
Poet Amanda Gorman joined Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish and Naomi Osaka as co-chairs at the return of the gala in September 2021, as the 2020 event was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (The 2021 soiree was pushed to September as the virus continued to spread worldwide.)
“We really want people to have fun and enjoy dressing up again,” Wintour said during a Good Morning America appearance that month. “We also want to see a lot of independence and individuality. And a different kind of spirit, something that breaks the rules a bit.”
Ahead of the 2022 event, Wintour reminisced about the Met Gala and its legacy. “To me, what’s wonderful about the Met is that it’s such an incredible mix, and maybe there are some outlets to tend to the fantastical creations that you might see Monday night, but if you are a true fashion follower and you look at the carpet, you will see there is the most amazing mix,” she said during an April 2022 interview with the Washington Post. “In that mix, are truly exquisite, couture or ready-to-wear by wonderful designers. Not everything at all, by any means, is a chandelier or a teapot or whatever it may be.”
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Scroll down to see all of the celebrities who have helped Wintour host and chair fashion’s biggest night of the year: