Met Gala 2019: What is it, theme, who's invited & how to watch

Here's everything you need to know about the fashionable night!
Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Alessandro Michele
Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Alessandro Michele will co-chair the Met Gala this year on May 6, 2019.Getty Images, WireImage

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/ Source: TODAY
By Chrissy Callahan

Celebrity style during awards season is certainly glamorous, but when it comes to high fashion, nothing tops the Met Gala. Models, celebrities, singers, actors and athletes descend on New York City for this famed fashion bash every spring, and they always turn heads in their elaborate ensembles.

While the Met Gala is a fashion lover's dream, what is the real purpose of this glitzy party? And who gets to attend?

In preparation for this year's event, taking place May 6, we're breaking down all the need-to-know Met Gala details. From information on this year's theme to a look at what happens inside the gala, consider this your insider's guide to the party of the year.

Sarah Jessica Parker attended the 2018 Met Gala, which had the theme "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination."Getty Images

What is the Met Gala?

This annual style soiree has several monikers — most notably the Met Gala and, more formally, the Costume Institute Benefit — and brings together some of the hottest names in fashion, music, movies and sports.

A-listers come dressed to impress for a photo-op on the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art's steps at this black-tie event, but the Meta Gala isn't all about getting the perfect paparazzi shot. Fashion lovers from high society also show up to celebrate the opening night of the Costume Institute's spring exhibition.

Every year, guests typically plan their elaborate couture ensembles around the exhibition's unique theme, and celebrities have lots of fun showing up in stunning (and sometimes controversial) get-ups.

Madonna wore this black ensemble to the 2018 Met Gala. Getty Images

What is the Met Gala for?

Met Gala hosts aim to throw a killer party, but fundraising is another top goal. Entry to the gala comes at a hefty price (more on that later!), and proceeds serve as the main source of funding for the Costume Institute's exhibitions, acquisitions and capital improvements.

According to the Met's website, the first Costume Institute Benefit took place in 1948 and started as a midnight dinner that guests could attend for a mere $50. Ever since the party has grown in size and scope and is now referred to by many as the "the Super Bowl of Fashion."

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Anne Hathaway opted for a striking color at the 2018 Met Gala. WireImage

When is the 2019 Met Gala?

This year's festivities will take place on Monday, May 6. Coverage of last year's red carpet arrivals started between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., so we expect celebrities to show up around this time again.

Katy Perry wore a John Galliano–designed Maison Margiela couture gown to the 2017 Met Gala.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

What is the 2019 Met Gala theme?

Each year, the Costume Institute selects a theme for its spring exhibition, which Met Gala guests creatively interpret through their attire. Last year, guests sported religious-inspired couture for a "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" theme, and we can't wait to see what they break out for this year's theme, "Camp: Notes on Fashion."

And no, they don't mean toasting-s'mores-over-a-fire camp. The spring 2019 exhibition is inspired by writer and activist Susan Sontag's 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp,'" and explores this kitschy fashion aesthetic that embraces ironic and exaggerated styles.

Met Gala host Anna Wintour wore white at the 2018 bash.Getty Images

What time does the Met Gala start?

Red carpet arrivals have typically started around 7 p.m. in years past.

Where is the Met Gala?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan's Upper East Side neighborhood is home to the annual Met Gala.

Priyanka Chopra at the 2018 Met GalaGetty Images

What happens at the Met Gala?

Aside from showcasing the greatest red carpet event of the year, it's all very hush-hush despite all the social media influencers in attendance. Well, guests are supposed to refrain from posting details or photos from inside the festivities. We can, however, tell you that guests get a first look at the elaborate spring exhibition, indulge in delicious food and enjoy some entertainment (Katy Perry performed at a recent gala).

At this year's "Notes on 'Camp'" exhibit, guests will have the opportunity to see more than 250 objects dating from the 17th century to the present.

Selena Gomez attended the 2017 Met Gala, whose theme centered around Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo and her label Comme des Garçons.Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

How to watch the Met Gala

Unlike award shows like the Oscars or Grammys, this exclusive event isn't televised in its entirety, but you can watch celebrity arrivals on "E! Live From the Red Carpet" starting at 5 p.m. EDT / 2 p.m. PDT on May 6.

And with famed Vogue editor Anna Wintour overseeing the festivities, you can also count on the fashion magazine to produce extensive red carpet coverage on its website and social media channels. New York magazine's The Cut and Teen Vogue are also typically heavy hitters when it comes to Met Gala coverage, so keep an eye out for their updates throughout the night.

Last but not least, refresh your Instagram feed on the night of the gala to see which stars sneak in some forbidden selfies from inside the event.

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez at the 2018 Met GalaGetty Images

Who gets invited to the Met Gala? Can you buy tickets?

If you're hoping to score tickets to fashion's hottest night out, keep dreaming! The event is invite-only, so unless you're on Wintour's shortlist, don't count on attending. Every year, the Vogue editor-in-chief teams up with a few co-chairs to put on the festivities, and this year Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, Serena Williams and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele will join her.

Tickets typically cost upward of $30,000, but that doesn't mean everyone actually pays the entry fee. Rumor has it that some designers handpick stars to accompany them and wear their designs, then often foot the bill.

And even though you probably can't attend the actual Met Gala, you can still check out the Costume Institute's spring exhibit when it opens to the public. It runs May 9 - Sept. 8, so you've got a few months to plan a visit.