Anna Wintour Reveals She Could Not Afford Dinner at the Met Gala in Her Early New York City Days

Anna Wintour
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The 'Vogue' editor-in-chief says the event was the 'most glamorous' she'd ever attended.

Anna Wintour wasn't always the star of the Met Gala. On the latest episode of Table for Two With Bruce Bozzi, an iHeartPodcast presented by iHeartMedia and Air Mail, the 73-year-old editor-in-chief of Vogue recalled the first Met Gala she attended early on in her career.

Per Women's Wear Daily, the Met Gala began in 1948, but took a cultural shift when Diana Vreeland was put it charge. It was during Vreeland's tenure that the event, which was then a cocktail hour followed by a dinner, became more celebrity-oriented.

"I had been aware of The Met and the work that they did when I was first living in New York and was a Junior Editor at New York Magazine," Wintour said. "I remember going to The Met when I was there... and just being awed by what Mrs. Vreeland had done. It just seemed it was the most glamourous evening I'd ever been at." 

Glamourous as it was, Wintour wasn't able to attend the event in full. "I didn't go to the dinner. I couldn't afford to go to the dinner," she recalled. "I was just at the cocktails."

Vreeland led the Met Gala until her death in 1989. What followed was a years-long lull in leadership, which changed in 1995 when Oscar de la Renta and his wife, Annette, put in a call to Wintour.

"They called me a million years ago and said, 'Would you ever consider helping the Costume Institute?'" Wintour recalled. "... When Annette and Oscar called me... and asked me to see if I could help, there was not a grand plan. I just did it because if Oscar called, you always said yes."

"I really was very naive, I think. I didn't realize what I was stepping into and it just became something that I felt more and more passionate about over the years," she added. "... It just grew over the years, but I can't pretend that there was a grand plan or a grand strategy."

Even without a grand plan, the Met Gala has become an iconic New York City event. This year, Michaela Coel, Penélope Cruz, Dua Lipa and Roger Federer will co-chair the Karl Lagerfeld-themed event along with Wintour. 

In addition to the gala, the museum's upcoming exhibition will feature 150 of the late Lagerfeld's designs from Chanel, Balmain, Patou, Fendi, Chloe and his own personal line, and will be accompanied by Lagerfeld's sketches. 

The annual gala takes place on the first Monday in May and is a fundraiser for New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition will open to the public on May 5 and close July 16, 2023.