The Met Gala, Met Ball, Costume Institute Gala... Whatever you want to call it, the grand opening of the annual fashion exhibition at the Met Museum's Costume Institute is the biggest and most exclusive night in any A-lister's calendar.
Affectionately nicknamed the 'fashion Oscars' (though the night isn't about awards - it's a charitable event that raises funds for the Costume Institute), the Met steps have been the site of many an iconic fashion moment: think Rihanna in golden Guo Pei couture, Beyoncé in barely-there Cavalli and Sarah Jessica Parker in Alexander McQueen. It's no surprise, then, that tickets to Anna Wintour's annual soirée are hotly sought after.
When is the Met Gala happening?
The event traditionally falls on the first Monday in May, meaning that this year, the ball will take place a little later than usual, on Monday 7th May. Red carpet arrivals tend to kick off at 6pm - and with a red carpet of around 150 yards long, this tends to take a little while. Expect the biggest names on the guest list (we're talking Beyoncé and Rihanna here) to arrive fashionably late...
What's the theme of the Met Gala 2018?
After 2017's celebration of Rei Kawakubo, this year's event is dedicated to the often uneasy relationship between fashion and religion, taking its dress code from the theme of the Costume Institute's upcoming exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.
The exhibition itself will take place across three locations: the Costume Centre, the Met's medieval galleries and the Cloisters, which are found further uptown. Aiming to create a dialogue between fashion and religious art, the curators have gathered 150 or so ensembles for display, including pieces by designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel and John Galliano, as well as papal garments loaned from the Sistine Chapel, which have never been seen outside of the Vatican.
Who is hosting this year's event?
As ever, it's a star-studded line-up. This year's event will be co-chaired by Anna Wintour and the outstanding triumvirate of Amal Clooney, Rihanna and Donatella Versace (whose label is co-sponsoring the exhibition, along with Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman).
How do I get invited to the Met Gala?
Unless you're a wealthy philantropist, a near relation of Anna Wintour, a legitimate A-lister or a legitimate A-lister's date, your chances are slimmer than sample size. Anyway, you probably wouldn't be able to afford a ticket without re-mortgaging your house or winning the Euromillions...
In the interests of optimism, however, here's our guide to bagging an invitation to the Met Gala.
How much do tickets cost?
Last year, a ticket to the event would set you back $30,000 or $275,000 per table. Yes, it's a lot of money, but it means you will most probably get to breath the same air as Beyoncé. The likes of Beyoncé, incidentally, typically don't actually pay for their own tickets - fashion designers and brands will invite them along and offer them a seat.
On top of the ticket price, there's also the cost of a couture gown, a manicure and blow dry, jewellery...
Who will be attending this year?
The Met Gala guest list won't be revealed beforehand, but numbers tend to be capped at around 700 - which is why it's so exclusive...
You can, however, expect a veritable who's who of music, film, fashion, art and culture: last year's attendees included Blake Lively, Selena Gomez, Lily-Rose Depp, Lupita Nyong'o, Brie Larson, Karlie Kloss, Katy Perry, Alexa Chung, the Olsen twins, Jennifer Lopez, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kim, Kanye, Kris, Kendall and Kylie. Plus, expect appearances from fashion heavyweights like Stella McCartney, Tom Ford and potentially Riccardo Tisci in his new capacity as Burberry's chief creative officer.
What will the A-listers be wearing?
The Met Gala dress code is themed in accordance with the exhibition - this year, expect attendees to pay homage to religious iconography (could this get problematic? The answer is, most probably, a resounding yes...)
Stars often tend to opt for gowns by designers with whom they have a pre-existing relationship - so Jennifer Lawrence will be wearing Dior, Alicia Vikander and Emma Stone would wear Louis Vuitton, while Beyoncé has been reckless in a Givenchy dress for the past five years running. Given Donatella's star status as a co-host, expect Versace to make a strong red carpet showing this year.
It's pretty normal for the stars to spend the taxi ride to the event lying down (to avoid creases at all costs) and for stylists to walk the red carpet with their celebrity charges, to rearrange their trains and fend off any wardrobe malfunctions
Can I watch at home?
In the words of Cher Horowitz, 'as if!' The Met Ball is far too exclusive to condone broadcasting from inside the event. Saying that, for the past couple of years the museum has streamed selected moments on social media - keep on eye on your feeds (if you can bear to brave the time difference).
Are there any rules?
Taking selfies is frowned upon, but the majority of A-listers are prepared to flout this rule, it seems (or, they're prepared to do so in the bathroom, away from the watchful eye of Anna Wintour). Similarly, the Met is a no smoking affair, but a coterie of Insta-models decided to light up in the bathrooms anyway (and to document it with some mirror selfies, to add insult to injury) last year. Bruschetta and parsley have reportedly been banned by Wintour, as they're too messy to eat in couture. Fair.