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Bad Bunny in custom Maison Margiela Artisanal Collection by John Galliano | Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

OPINION: Met Gala Tickets Cost $113,000. Here’s Why it Works

Does anyone really know when The Met Gala is? Like the Oscars or my mother-in-law’s birthday, ‘fashion’s biggest night’ tends to creep up rather unexpectedly, arriving when I am least prepared to take hold of my social feeds. It’s a vacuous void that occupies valuable space in the recesses of my brain for about two days, only to be forgotten about for another 12 months until the next batch of outrageous celebrity fit pics emerge.

This year, it was the image of Tyla, draped in an inanimate sand dress, being carried like a human Barbie doll and placed delicately onto the red carpet only to be collected again a few minutes later, that shuddered me back to the scene. Truthfully, The Met Gala has become a confusing and often hilarious playground for opulent demonstrations of celebrity-fuelled haute couture. Some have labelled the event ‘boring’ or ‘tactless’, but there is one superlative that simply doesn’t fit the bill: cheap.

Tyla wearing a Balmain dress designed by Olivier Rousteing | Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Tyla wearing a Balmain dress designed by Olivier Rousteing | Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

According to reports, this year’s Met Gala tickets cost around USD$75,000 (AUD$113,000), up 50 per cent from last year’s USD$50,000 price tag. Attendees still had to be invited with The Met telling CBS MoneyWatch that a 10-person table started at USD$350,000. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all the celebrities who attended forkeded out $100k for the opportunity to be papped. Typically, a design house will invite guests they wish to host, paying their admission with a glittering outfit, while the true A-listers reportedly gain attendance for free.

The AUD$113,000 ticket isn’t so much about what is included in the goodie bag, but rather what the door-opening invitation represents. To some, it is the confirmation that you have reached the upper echelon of Hollywood fame; that by virtue of your charm, charisma and beauty, you have transcended circumstance and risen above the lucky lous that sit one velvet rope away from success. But for others, a ticket to The Met Gala is worth so much more; it is a commitment to creative endeavour.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, circa 1950 | Image: Frederic Lewis/Getty Images
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, circa 1950 | Image: Frederic Lewis/Getty Images

Since 1948, The Met Gala, which is officially titled The Costume Institute Benefit, has raised much-needed funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s acquisitions and exhibitions related to fashion. Initially, the event was merely one of New York’s many fundraising activities, but when then-Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland came on as a consultant in 1972, The Gala took on a life of its own and donations poured in.

Over its 75-year run, the event has raised more than USD$200 million for the institution, making it one of the city’s most important and successful cultural undertakings, and this year was no exception. According to the Associated Press, the 2024 Met Gala raised more than USD$26 million, a record sum for the annual soirée. Sponsored by TikTok and fashion label Loewe, this year’s ‘Garden of Time’ theme was overseen by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, alongside co-chairs Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, Zendaya and Chris Hemsworth.

Splendour in the grass 2022 b
Splendour in the Grass was cancelled for 2024 | Image: SITG

Importantly, the event does what so few governments are willing to do; support a sector that has traditionally bore the brunt of weakened economic conditions. Here in Australia, the arts have faced a series of budget cuts and dwindling financial support in recent years, leaving emerging artists in the fashion, music and entertainment industries with few viable pathways. In 2023, the NSW government announced it would be stripping almost $190 million in funding to arts programs, including the Made in NSW screen organisation. That followed the inevitable roll-back of COVID-related support measures such as the RISE fund in 2022.

Earlier this year, music festivals Groovin’ the Moo and Splendour in the Grass shut up shop and Brisbane icon The Zoo announced it would be closing its doors after 32 years. Of course, it’s not up to the government to prop up cultural institutions, but that’s precisely why events such as The Met Gala are necessary.

Kim Kardashian at the 2021 Met Gala wearing a Balenciaga outfit | Image: Theo Wargo
Kim Kardashian at the 2021 Met Gala wearing a Balenciaga outfit | Image: Theo Wargo

So while I do find it enjoyable to poke fun at Kim Kardashian for looking like the harbinger of death and it might seem like I am upset by the very concept of reportedly Met Gala, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, when you consider the positive impact The Gala has had on the wider art and fashion community, $113,000 a ticket feels like a small price to pay, particularly for the world’s wealthiest elites.

Sure, the Met Gala might seem silly and exist almost entirely as a show of opulence and extravagance, but there is merit in the sheer bodysuits, floral headdresses and elongated tails. In its simplest form, the Met Gala is a bunch of billionaires donning their finest frocks and coming together to donate an exorbitant amount of money to aid in the preservation of an arts institution. Who could be mad about that?