The New York Costume Institute Gala falls on the first Monday of May and is hosted by Vogue. It is the premier party for aspiring fashionistas and those lucky enough to attend allow us an insight into who Fashion currently believes is a la mode.

The 725 hand-picked guests pay thousands of dollars ($250,000 for the top table) for the pleasure of attending and get every ounce of worth from the glittering ambiance and eclectic company. This year, both the event and exhibition have been sponsored by Gap, a departure from the usual high-end brands that pour their funds into the Institute. Lady Gaga provided the after-dinner entertainment and the red carpet was filled with Fashion’s founders and Hollywood’s fashion darlings, all primped and prepared in the latest offerings. Some starlets managed to premier outfits for designers that will reduce their impact when shown at the September shows, thus helping to highlight the importance and significance of the event. Indeed, it rates far higher than the Oscars when it comes to giving us an idea as to what creative dressing is. Kirsten Dunst wore a fussy bridal-esque dress that had been designed by the design duo Rodarte and (this is the interesting bit) Gap.

Emma Watson

The concept erupted in 1949 as the brainchild of publicity-savvy Eleanor Lambert and was introduced at a midnight supper (cunningly named ‘The Party of the Year’). The current host and woman credited with keeping alive the sprit of the benefit is Honorary Trustee Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief of Vogue), who manages to walk the fine line between blatant publicity and personal enrichment.

Often forgotten is the purpose of the event; to maintain the rich collection housed at The Costume Institute and to open the latest exhibition. This year entitled ‘American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity’, it focuses on modern femininity from 1890 to 1940. Delving into American femininity through dress, it shows how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. Amongst others, ‘Gibson Girls’, ‘Bohemians’, and ‘Screen Sirens’ helped lay the foundation for today’s American woman. It will be on public display until August if you can nip to NYC.

by Léonie Tovell

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