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Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the Met Gala, arguably fashion’s biggest night of the year, will not take place as planned on the first Monday in May. The event, which celebrates the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is orchestrated in collaboration with Vogue, is an international event of such high standing that May’s first Monday is the only day besides Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day that the museum closes to visitors in a normal year.
This is, obviously enough, not a normal year. The Met and its sister museums, the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters, have been closed since March 13, and the Museum will remain closed until the summer. The Costume Institute’s spring show, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” which was to give the gala its theme, will be postponed until October and will run until early February 2021. “The timing of the 2020 Met Gala is still under discussion,” said Nancy Chilton, the chief external relations officer of the Costume Institute. “As we have shared, the Museum will remain closed to the public and staff until July 1, based on what we are hearing from the CDC and city, state, and federal leaders.”
The impact is potentially significant. The gala provides the Costume Institute’s funding for the year; last year, the event brought in a record-breaking $15 million, and tickets for this year’s event were $35,000 apiece. It is a rare opportunity for brands to secure a major media moment, and its red carpet is the most reliable headline-making, meme-generating event out there: where Lady Gaga does a multi-look metamorphosis on the red carpet, Rihanna drags her egg-yellow train up the steps, Billy Porter is carried in on a litter, and Marc Jacobs squires Cher.
COVID-19 preparations and response have for weeks been altering the course of fashion’s usually busy spring. Several teams of U.S. fashion editors decamped from Paris Fashion Week early, citing concerns. First Italy, and then countries including France, Spain, and the Netherlands have instituted travel restrictions and lockdowns. Gucci canceled its cruise collection show, which had been scheduled for May 18 in San Francisco, and Versace also canceled its cruise show last week, which had been scheduled for May 16.
This post has been updated throughout to reflect the Met’s decision to cancel or postpone the gala.
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