Met Gala unveils theme for 2024’s retrospective

The Met Gala exhibition theme for 2024 has officially been announced. 

Coined ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,’ the The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute retrospective will span over 400 years of history and present a rich tapestry of archival garments, from 17th-century English Elizabethan-era bodices and an 1877 silk ball gown by Charles Frederick Worth, to contemporary designs from Phillip Lim, Connor Ives, and Stella McCartney. 

The retrospective will span 400 years of fashion, showcasing garments rarely revealed to the public. Photo: Nick Knight

Contrary to what the title may imply, the pieces on display will not be based on the popular fairytale, or Disney universe, but instead a curated collection of historically preserved pieces that have lain dormant as they are too fragile to ever be worn again.

Around 250 pieces – some of which have rarely been seen in public – are set to be pulled from the Costume Institute’s permanent archive. Works from designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy will also be featured.

The Costume Institution’s yearly exhibition arrives in tandem with arguably the biggest celebrity fashion bonanza of the year, the Met Gala. 

While an official dress code for the Met Gala is yet to be announced (last year saw attendees reimagine the ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’ dress code), speculation is already high over who will attend and – more importantly – what they will be wearing. 

“I would love to see some Christian Lacroix looks at the Met Gala next year,” fashion blogger @saintdemie penned on X. “I just know Kim Kardashian is gonna interpret this exhibit as a window shopping experience,” another user wrote.

Excitement is also bubbling in China, with one netizen predicting that “high fashion is coming back” via social platform Xiaohongshu. 

Hosted on the first Monday in May, the Met Gala’s previous themes have included ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’ (2019), ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ (2018), and ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ (2015). However, these dress codes haven’t always translated well on the famed carpet. 

Pieces on display will include works by Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Christian Dior. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art

The ‘Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion’ showcase is set to be a celebration of the ephemeral nature of beautiful garments, a particularly relevant topic in an era when conversations surrounding sustainability are growing louder. 

The institution hopes the show will activate a “sensorial appreciation of fashion,” and encourage onlookers to honor clothes as relics, as opposed to just another mode of consumption. 

The exhibition, which will open in Spring next year, has received backing from TikTok, Loewe, and Condé Nast.