Why is the Met Gala in May this year and not September?

Bruno Cooke May 2, 2022
Why is the Met Gala in May this year and not September?
Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

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Yes, this year’s Met Gala is taking place in May – last year’s was in September. This has caused some confusion, especially as some people seem to think September is the gala’s usual slot. When exactly is the 2022 Met Gala, when was it in 2021, and why has it changed?

Why is the Met Gala in May?

If it feels to you like the last Met Gala was only yesterday – or rather, only eight months ago, rather than a year – you’re not the only one.

The Met Gala, formally called the Costume Institute Gala, is an annual fundraising gala held on the first Monday of May. That’s its usual slot.

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In 2020, for obvious reasons (covid-19), there was no Met Gala. It resumed the following year, but because of the same obvious reasons (covid-19), the 2021 Met Gala took place in September rather than May. 

For a fuller account of why 2021’s Met Gala was held specifically on 13 September, read Newsweek’s explanation here.

And so we’re back on the red carpet after just eight months. The date of the 2022 Met Gala is 2 May.

Why is the Met Gala usually held on the first Monday in May?

The Met Gala dates back to 1948, but the tradition of holding it on the first Monday in May is actually much younger. 

From 1979 to 2004, for example, the Gala always took place in December. Since 2005, it’s been a beginning-of-May affair.

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The reason is that it must precede the opening of the accompanying Costume Institute exhibition. Holding it on the cusp of spring/summer is beneficial for several reasons: the weather is temperate; seasonal change is afoot; summer is on its way.

In 2015, the Gala and its theme, China: Through The Looking Glass, were the subjects of a Condé Nast Entertainment-produced documentary, The First Monday In May. Andrew Rossi’s film is, among other things, a testament to the publicity of the date on which the gala takes place.

What is the theme of this year’s gala?

The theme for 2022 is Gilded Glamour and White Tie. 

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As a result, The Guardian reports, the organisers of the Met Gala have faced accusations that they are insensitive to the worsening inflation many American households are struggling with.

The theme harks back to the period of prosperity and growth in the US from 1870 to 1890. Some say it’s out of touch.

Meanwhile, Business Insider legal correspondent Jacob Shamsian tweeted that having a Gilded Age-themed gala “on the same day we know the US economy is contracting” is “too on-the-nose”.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.