The best red carpet fashions from Met Gala 2024, 'The Garden of Time'

In certain circles, the words “the first Monday in May” and “the Met Gala” have become synonymous with a parade of the most glorious, outrageous couture fashion worn by a hand-selected slice of innovators and image makers.

The event is also the annual fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and signals the launch of an annual exhibition.This year’s,“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” features about 250 items from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection.

The dress code for the 2024 gala is “The Garden of Time,” which is taken from a dystopian 1962 short story by J.G. Ballard that uses a garden as a metaphor for cycles of human creation and destruction. So expect some goth garden wear and lots of florals on black backgrounds.

Last year’s gala, in honor of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, hauled in a reported $22 million and reams of coverage of attendees such as Doja Cat and Jared Leto, both of whom dressed as Lagerfeld’s Persian cat Choupette.

Many attribute the gala’s success to its organizer of more than two decades, the powerful Anna Wintour, who as global editorial director of Condé Nast and editor in chief of Vogue has long been a force in creating international celebrities. Wintour controls who is invited to the invitation-only event.

The gala earns outsize interest partly because its guest list isn’t revealed until the night before and the activities inside the museum gala are also kept secret (thanks to a no cellphones policy).

Yet the event also draws attention to the exhibition, which this year highlights the importance of museum fashion collections and their conservation. “Sleeping Beauties” refers to the delicate garments that will be taken from their temperature-controlled, acid-free tissue nests to come to life in new ways in the museum galleries — but not on mannequins. Using a range of technologies such as X-rays, artificial intelligence, video animation and soundscapes, the curators are reanimating garments that will never be worn again.

Or shouldn’t be. One might consider the exhibit a subtle rebuke to Kim Kardashian, who in 2022 wore —and likely ruined —the fragile gown Marilyn Monroe wore to sing to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. If stylists, celebrities and socialites heed the message to let sleeping beauties lie, then important, historic clothing has a better chance of preservation for future generations.

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