The Met Costume Institute Gala, Then And Now

by Chiara Atik · April 13, 2010

We're only 20 days away from the highlight of the New York social season, the Met Costume Institute Gala, which will take place on May 3rd. This year's theme is American Women: Fashioning A National Identity, and will be hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Patrick Robinson, and Anna Wintour. But will this year's attendees be able to replicate the effortless elegance of their 1960 counterparts?-

Even pretty Betty Draper probably wouldn't be quite cutting edge enough to wear this sleek white dress to what was then called the "Metropolitan Museum Fashion Ball" (she stuck to full, 50s style skirts a few years after the city girls stopped wearing them.) Holly Golighty wore something similar, (in black), in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" the next year.

An aspect of the ball that's changed drastically in the last 50 years? Metal foldout chairs no longer scream "sophisticated, $5,000-a-ticket event."

Nowadays, the ball, while always the pinnacle of NYC elegance, has taken a turn for the avant garde; notice the zebra carpet, the shorter dresses, and the turban on Kate Moss, which was comparatively tameas far as outfits went last year. Justin Timberlake, however, looks like he would be equally at home in either era.

The Ball still features dancing, to be sure, but it's of a different variety. (Why did people dance like ten feet away from each other in the 1960s?). Also, the crowd has evolved into something significantly less...dowdy. (I'm looking at you, sweet old woman with the silver bun.)

[1960 images via Gothamist. All others via Modelinia]