Tonight is the Met Ball, and every major celebrity, It designer and Voguette will be sashaying his and her way over to the Upper East Side for the so-called “party of the year.”
But the ball wasn’t always like this. Started in 1948 by the famed publicist Eleanor Lambert (who founded the CFDA awards), the ball was originally a philanthropic effort that was not even held in the museum. That all changed in 1960, when the party first moved to the Met’s Great Hall and “the normally quiet museum murmur was shattered by the strains of fox trots and waltzes.”
Though the ball has obviously changed considerably since 1960, there are actually quite a few similarities between the New York Times coverage of that year’s ball and what the ball is like today. Read below for a summary of the similarities and differences.
1960: 750 people attended the 1960 party.
2016: 600 people will attend tonight’s.
1960: $100 per person. Tickets sold out two weeks before the event (implying that anyone who wanted to go could simply buy a ticket). If every one of those people bought a ticket, we can assume the event raised around $7,500.
2016: $30,000 per person (or $275,000 for a table; many designers buy a table and then invite celebrities to be their guests at the table). Anna Wintour and the rest of the Vogue crew monitors every single guest, so there’s no sneaking into it. If everyone there buys a ticket (obviously many celebrities don’t), the event could raise around $18 million.
1960: An orchestra that played music for “fox trots and waltzes.”
2016: Taylor Swift
1960: Though the Times does not list names of attendees, it does say that “for many members of the garment industry, this is indeed the party of the year,” adding that the “roster of committees reads like a fashion hall of fame.”
2016: Though the biggest names in fashion still attend the ball, there’s also a generous helping of up-and-coming designers whom Wintours handpicks each year. And then, of course, every single notable celebrity ever.
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The Exhibit’s Theme
1960: “Charm is Always in Style”
2016: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”
1960: Green turtle soup, beef Stroganov, rice pilaf and peas, baba au rhum, and fresh fruit.
2016: Though we likely won’t know what the guests dined on until tomorrow, Vogue does offer some clues in this article about a menu “inspired” by the ball’s: it includes a “roasted spring lamb entrée, plus the option to add Il Laboratorio del Gelato’s green apple sorbet.”
1960: After cocktails at 8:30, a “rich red carpet” led guests through to the library, then the exhibit, then at 10, guests were treated to “special entertainment” in the Auditorium. Then dinner was served in the Great Hall, where everyone danced the night away until 2:30 am when “the august hush returned to the massive halls and galleries of the venerable museum.”
2016: Guests of the Met ball still show off their elaborate costumes on a red carpet, and then preview the exhibit. But after that, social media is banned, so no one who isn’t invited really knows what goes down. The documentary “The First Monday in May,” which was just released this year, provides an inside look at the proceedings from last year’s ball.
1960: The Times article notes that the ball is “in a sense, an expression of appreciation to the Costume Institute.”
2016: Though attendees to the ball today will preview the exhibit, everyone knows that the real point of the evening is to see and be seen by other super famous people.
The Name: Some things don’t change; in both 1960 and today, the Met Ball is titled “The Party of the Year.”