History Behind The Met Gala Dresses (and Other Fashion)

This week, the Meta Gala dresses and other iconic fashion were on display. And as usual, we were all wow’d. Every year

History of the Met Gala

As a couture dry cleaner, we are right there with the rest of you come Met Gala season. First, it is the theme announcement. Trying to guess or imagine what the designers will think of next. They surely outdo themselves each and every year.

While we have seen many high-end pieces of fashion walk through our door, there are those extra special items. The Met Gala inspires fashion that goes beyond fashion’s runway. They are pieces of art that may be made of outrageous textiles in gravity-defying shapes.

Initially, the Met Gala was more known simply as a fundraising event for the Costume Institute. Of course, it has clearly evolved into a highly-anticipated and watched fashion event flocked by celebrities and designers. On the first Monday in May, the Met hosts the annual gala.

Today’s Met Gala pushes boundaries and challenges designers to typically create in a way much different than what they are presenting in the own fashion houses. It’s always exciting to see each designer’s individual take on a Met Gala theme. And after the excitement has passed, we are here to clean and preserve those artworks for years to come.

The Importance of the Met Gala in Fashion

The Met Gala, also known as the Costume Institute Gala,  is one of the most high-profile events in the fashion industry. It is also one of the biggest nights of fashion each year. And every year, paparazzi and those at home wait to see what celebrities, fashion designers, and other famous people will be wearing. As soon as the high-profile guests start arriving, fashion magazines and bloggers begin their best dressed lists and who’s who of the evening.

Designers showcase their work on this special evening. Often, attendees are wearing works-of-art and custom-made garments. Many are designed specifically for this event. In addition to the art and excitement, all the exposure also puts a spotlight on these designers.

In addition, designers are also setting the tone for upcoming fashion trends. Breathtaking Met Gala dresses are used as inspiration for more scaled-down versions. If you’re a fan of the Met Gala, you’re aware of some of the stunning but impossible designs that have made their way up their steps. Most people would not have the luxury of people following us to carry our train on an evening out. (If we could, we would though. What a dramatic entrance!)

Rightfully so, the Met Gala has become a cultural phenomenon. Millions of people around the world tune in to see what A-lister attendees are wearing and how they interpret the theme of the event. This widespread interest in the Met Gala has made it an important event in popular culture. It truly an annual iconic fashion moment.

The Met Gala Theme

As a global event, the The Met Gala theme is actually known well-before any of the fashion graces our screen. It is chosen by the Costume Institute’s curator in collaboration with the museum’s staff and outside consultants (e.g. fashion designers, historians, and other experts).

Months before the event, designers and celebrities learn of the Met Gala theme. Then, fashion designers and attendees (mostly, celebrities) collaborate to create an outfit that reflects the theme in their own unique way. It truly is quite amazing what type of creations will be exhibited.

In 2023, the theme was “In Honor of Karl”. The Costume Institute’s Karl Lagerfeld exhibition showcases over 150 pieces of work. Known for his work at many luxury design houses, celebrities and designers paid tribute in their own way.

Like 2023, the themes are often tied to the Costume Institute’s exhibitions. These museum exhibits’ showcase extensive collections of fashion and costume history. Alternatively, a Met Gala themes can also be broader cultural or historical concepts. When deciding on the theme, the main goal is to provide a unifying concept that is also inspirational. After all, it is the memorable fashion that has as tuning in every year.

Past Met Gala Themes Included

  • World of Balenciaga (1973)
  • The Eighteenth Century Woman (1981)
  • Haute Couture (1995)
  • The House of Chanel (2005)
  • Punk: Chaous to Couture (2013)
  • Camp: Notes on Fashion (2019)

Iconic Dresses

They came for the fashion.  At Hallak, we are fortunate enough to see couture evening gowns regularly. But nothing quite compares to the outfits worn at the Met Gala. (Perhaps, a custom wedding gown that shows the same attention to detail and unique fabrics.)

Caring for these items also requires a unique process. Like any garment that comes through our door, the Hallak team examines from top to bottom. We are looking for signs of wear-and-tear, fabric condition, ornamentation, and the design itself. Depending on the item, a cleaning department expert will then determine the amount of spot cleaning, solvent(s) needed, and finishing required.

Fashion designers and their teams work tirelessly on these creations. So it’s important to take the necessary steps in providing the expert care needed to preserve them properly. Of course, we provide the same level of care for any garment that walks through our door.

Until Next Year’s Met Gala

As usual, the Met Gala did not disappoint, We hoped that you enjoyed watching all the red carpet coverage and more. By now, you probably have scrolled through your feeds repeatedly and read countless articles on who wore what. You’ve picked out your favorites and your not-so-favorites.

Until next year Met Gala dresses, we can’t wait to  see you.




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