What was the 2024 Met Gala theme? “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion,” explained


NEW YORK – If you’re trying to explain the 2024 Met Gala theme, you can look to the classic fable, “Sleeping Beauty.” 

Watch our coverage of all the red carpet arrivals here, plus a recap of the biggest moments and best dressed stars.

What was the Met Gala theme this year?

This year’s theme for the Met Gala stems from the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s the latest exhibition, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.”

“When an item of clothing enters our collection, its status is changed irrevocably. What was once a vital part of a person’s lived experience is now a motionless ‘artwork’ that can no longer be worn or heard, touched, or smelled. The exhibition endeavors to reanimate these artworks by re-awakening their sensory capacities through a diverse range of technologies, affording visitors sensorial ‘access’ to rare historical garments and rarefied contemporary fashions,” curator Andrew Bolton said. “By appealing to the widest possible range of human senses, the show aims to reconnect with the works on display as they were originally intended—with vibrancy, with dynamism, and ultimately with life.”    

The 2024 theme goes hand-in-hand with the dress code, dubbed “The Garden of Time.” 

The Met Gala’s dress code is usually quite loosely interpreted by guests and is used as a jumping off point for outfits, making for some memorable red carpet moments

What exhibition is the 2024 Met Gala theme celebrating?

“Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” is the name of the exhibit the Met Gala will be celebrating.

The story behind the name has to do with the garments that will be on display. Roughly 250 garments will be shown from the Costume Institute’s collection of 33,000 pieces. Many of the ones that will be on display are typically never shown. Some are said to be too fragile to hang, for fear of them falling apart. 

Instead, they will lie in glass cases, like the fabled Sleeping Beauty. 

“The Met’s innovative spring 2024 Costume Institute exhibition will push the boundaries of our imagination and invite us to experience the multisensory facets of a garment, many of which get lost when entering a museum collection as an object. Sleeping Beauties will heighten our engagement with these masterpieces of fashion by evoking how they feel, move, sound, smell and interact when being worn, ultimately offering a deeper appreciation of the integrity, beauty and artistic brilliance of the works on display,” Met Museum Director Max Hollein said.

In an interview Monday before the big event, Hollein said the garments are “being reawakened using both traditional as well as cutting edge technologies.”

What does “The Garden of Time” have to do with Sleeping Beauty?

“Sleeping Beauty” is a classic fable of a beautiful princess who is sent into a magical sleep only to be reawakened by the kiss of her true love. It is frequently interpreted as being about how true love will conquer all. 

“The Garden of Time” is a short story by J.G Ballard that concerns a couple living in a beautiful home. 

A mob is slowly making its way toward them, bringing destruction. In the couple’s garden grow “time flowers,” and each one that is plucked sends the mob back in time, further away from their inevitable arrival at their home. But the garden is no longer growing new flowers, and the destruction of their exquisite home and life together is inevitable. 

Historical garments are displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s announcement of the Costume Institute’s spring 2024 exhibition, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion” in New York on November 8, 2023. The Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on May 6 to celebrate the exhibition opening.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

The exhibition itself, like a garden, will also be a multisensory experience, designed to stimulate all the senses. The galleries will be arranged “exploring a different theme inspired by the natural world,” the Met said. As an example, the floors of one gallery space will be animated with snakes, and the ceiling of another with a projection of birds. 

“Punctuating the exhibition will be a series of ‘sleeping beauties’—garments that can no longer be dressed on mannequins due to their extreme fragility—that will be displayed in glass ‘coffins’ allowing visitors to analyze their various states of deterioration as if under a microscope,” the Met said. 

What were past Met Gala themes through the years?

The Met Gala has had many memorable themes over the years. Last year’s theme honored fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.

In 2021 and 2022, the “In America” theme served as parts one and two of a look back at American fashion through the years.

The 2020 gala was postponed due to the pandemic, but its theme was “About Time: Fashion and Duration.” 

And in 2019, the theme was “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” 

The Met Gala will be held Monday night in New York City. Watch CBS New York’s special coverage streaming at 8 p.m.

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