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The easiest way to explain to someone what the function of the Met Gala is that it's fashion's Super Bowl. So, it's famous people in pretty dresses playing football? No, but that would be fun, and someone should invent that! Instead, the Met Gala is an occasion in which celebrities converge in honor of the Costume Institute's annual fashion exhibit — or because Anna Wintour told them to.
Part–red carpet, part–really fancy dinner party, the Met Gala acts as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. Though the celebs on the guest list don't have to pay to attend, the rest of the attendees have forked over $25,000 each to eat among the stars.
Every year, the stars dress up in accordance with the theme of the exhibit, which in the past have included an Alexander McQueen retrospective, an exploration of Chinese fashion, and how punk style became incorporated into couture fashion.
Below, everything else know before the red carpet to end all red carpets begins tonight.
The Costume Institute's new exhibit is entitled Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology (sigh), and will explore the blurring line between man- and machine-made fashion. It's traditional for guests to wear garments that reflect the theme, which means that we can likely expect to see plenty of futuristic (and hopefully plenty of retro-futuristic, too) looks on the red carpet. Keep an eye out for outfits that employ both handmade and technologically produced designs, like embroidery or lasercutting.
As always, however, there'll be a handful of celebs who completely ignore the theme altogether, and another handful who go completely bonkers with it. That's part of the fun!
Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour has been the event's official chair and host since 1995, but each year, she selects an honorary chair to preside over the event. This year's choice? Newly bleach blonde Vogue cover girl Taylor Swift.
Her co-hosts for the evening are Idris Elba, and Apple's chief design officer Jonathan Ive. Honorary chairs include Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada. Apple is also sponsoring the event, fittingly.
Wintour and the Costume Institute have been oddly secretive about this year's guest list, but celebrities and designers often come paired up, with designers on the arm of the celebrity they've dressed for the evening. Since Anna Wintour and Vogue staffers select each of the 650 to 700 people on the guest list, expect standby A-listers like Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, and Kim and Kanye to be there.
There's also always a performer, and it's always a big one. (For context, last year's was Rihanna.) Speculation of this year's is falling squarely on the shoulders of perhaps the only pop star who could top her, Beyoncé, who hasn't missed a Met Gala in years. Because Taylor Swift is the honorary chair of this year's event, she will likely not perform.
How to Watch
In years past, the Met Gala red carpet was not televised, and the only way to see the celebrities was to either be there or find photos of them online. But for the first time ever, E! will cover the event via its special, Live from the Red Carpet, which will be similar to their coverage for awards shows like the Oscars. A red carpet pre-show will air at 7 p.m., followed by red carpet fashion at 7:30 p.m.
In another new development this year, Instagram will also be highlighting the best videos from within the Met Ball via a dedicated video channel. It'll be accessible on the Explore page until Tuesday at 5 p.m., according to WWD.
The actual gala will not be televised, and guests are forbidden to use social media during the event, but you can keep up with all of our up-to-date coverage right here.