What does the 2024 Met Gala theme mean and what can we expect to see on the red carpet?

Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion exhibition will feature 250 garments from the Costume Institute’s permanent collection

The exhibition 'will explore notions of rebirth and renewal ... as a metaphor for the impermanence of fashion'. AFP
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The theme for the 2024 Met Gala and its accompanying exhibition has been revealed as Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.

One of the biggest events on the global fashion calendar, and traditionally held on the first Monday in May, the Met Gala opens the annual Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The theme for the upcoming exhibition was unveiled via a news conference in the presence of Anna Wintour, Conde Nast chief content officer and Vogue global editorial director; Andrew Bolton, curator of the Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Centre; and Max Hollein, chief executive and director of the Metropolitan Museum.

Each year, the exhibition theme is celebrated with a red carpet event attended by some of the world’s biggest celebrities, models, designers and fashion VIPs. The dress code runs in line with the exhibition theme. Last year’s exhibition, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, celebrated the life and designs of the late fashion designer.

What does the 2024 Met Gala theme mean?

Try to dismiss any Disney notions and connections to the Sleeping Beauty's Aurora – although it's likely that we will see a good few princess style gowns. According to the Met Museum, Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion “will explore notions of rebirth and renewal, using nature as a metaphor for the impermanence of fashion”.

The theme is set to bring “new life” to around 250 costumes and accessories from the museum’s archive. Called “sleeping beauties”, the pieces, which are no longer worn, will be brought back to life with the use of animation, artificial intelligence, projections and soundscapes, making it a fully immersive experience.

The exhibition will be split into three themes: Land, Sea and Sky, paying tribute to the natural world through fashion.

The idea of rebirth also links closely to nature and its meaning in fashion.

“Nature is such a throughline in our collection. But also nature, I think, is a broader metaphor for fashion to serve out the fragility and the ephemerality of fashion, but also society, the secular nature of fashion and ideas of renewal and rebirth and regeneration,” says Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition.

A video posted on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Instagram page features gowns from designers such as Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as older garments including a ninth-century ball gown from House of Worth and a Second World War-era evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet.

Who and what might we see on the 2024 Met Gala red carpet?

Each year, the opening ceremony for the exhibition is one of the biggest nights on the global fashion calendar.

While the 2024 hosts are yet to be revealed, former co-chairs have included Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Roger Federer, Dua Lipa, Karl Lagerfeld and Penelope Cruz.

The Met Gala guest list is one of the most coveted in the celebrity party circuit, with guests likely to include personalities such as Rihanna, the Kardashian / Jenner sisters, Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.

Each year, guests are invited to interpret the exhibition’s theme. The overriding theme of nature will likely run through to VIPs' looks, with florals, leaves and natural elements undoubtedly making their way on to garments.

However, the idea of reawakening sleeping beauties could also see some archival looks returning to the red carpet, as designers and celebrities may opt to give new life to iconic dresses that have been “sleeping” for a while.

Designers such as McQueen, Dior and Schiaparelli will undoubtedly be a go-to for some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities, both thanks to their participation in the exhibition itself and their continuing inspiration taken from nature. Brands such as Versace and Valentino, who are notoriously some of the most popular dressers for the event, are likely to be making an early start on custom-made creations for guests.

The 2024 Met Gala will take place on May 6, 2024. Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, will open to the public on May 10, 2024.

Updated: November 09, 2023, 10:36 AM