20 Met Gala-Inspired Gift Ideas
"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."
Magical. Beautiful. Inspirational. Almost 10 million people around the world follow The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, far exceeding the number who are able to visit in person (about 3.5 million). While I am fortunate to be able to climb its storied staircases a few times a year, even those who only visit online are mesmerized by its priceless works of art. The museum’s holdings range from items such as Mary Magdalene’s tooth, Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, Degas' Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, to a room dedicated to Afrofuturism. There is always something spellbinding to witness at the largest art museum in the United States.
And did I mention the clothes?
It's true that the Metropolitan Museum Art has two million objects to display, but it's also true that many of today's visitors come for the fashion (33,000 pieces in the costume department — my dream closet and yours!). Over the last 15 years, its fashion exhibits have transported visitors into the world of haute couture and culture, including 2011's Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty.
Later, Heavenly Bodies (2018), the museum’s best-selling show of all time with over one million visitors, surprised us with how deeply — and almost eerily — fashion has reflected the Catholic faith. That show alone transformed the way many of us perceive fashion (although perhaps not as much as the shows that focused on punk rock and superheroes).
Fashion Means Business at the Met
Because of the wild success of these exhibits, the Met Gala, a charity dinner and concert, has become fashion’s most important night of the year. It’s where, in 2022, Pete Davidson accompanied Kim Kardashian who wore (and ripped) a dress that had belonged to Marilyn Monroe. It's where, in 2015, Rihanna wore Guo Pei's remarkable gold cape and gown. Later, to celebrate the Camp: Notes on Fashion (2019) exhibit, Lady Gaga transformed through four different outfits in 16 minutes on the red carpet.
This year's exhibit is Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. Lagerfeld was quite close with Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor who hosts the gala and works with the museum to choose the exhibit’s theme. However, this year’s theme comes with controversy (which didn’t tamp down the excitement even one a little bit).
The Complicated Legacy of Karl Lagerfeld
Although some people (mostly fashion editors) describe Karl Lagerfeld as generous and kind, the designer, who was born in Germany in 1933, was also fatphobic and antisemitic. (This isn’t merely an opinion — Lagerfeld, who died in 2019, left behind a number of quotes that make many people cringe). Nevertheless, clearly the art and fashion world overlooks his faults because they so admire his timeless designs, including the double F seen on Fendi purses to the various Chanel looks he created for celebrities, including Julianne Moore, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Anne Hathaway.
Gifting the Met
Alas, despite my many visits to the museum over the course of my lifetime, I did not receive an invitation for this (or any) year’s gala. I watched it like most mere mortals from the comfort of my coach whilst ogling people who spend more on their clothes than I did for my townhouse. Nevertheless, since I am Metropolitan Museum of Art devotee, I shop its catalogue for the holidays, birthday presents, and presents for kids. I’ve gifted Christmas ornaments, scarves, toys, and books. Rather than wrapping them, I simply leave them in the fabulous Met shopping bags, safely ensconced in tissue paper. Everyone is always excited to see a Metropolitan Museum of Art bag, even one made of paper.
Here are my suggestions for Met-inspired gifts for the art and fashion lovers in your life.
'Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Updated Edition' by Hamish Bowles and Chloe Malle
Your stylish buddy probably can’t spend $30,000–$50,000 for a ticket to the Gala, not to mention hundreds of thousands on a dress, shoes, and jewelry, but this book, which sits on my very own coffee table, is perfect for the fashion dreamer.
Choupette Teacup & Saucer Set
Any cat lovers are also sure to be fans of Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s blue-eyed kitty, who not only has her own nanny and chef, but hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.
‘My Met Sticker Collection: Make Your Own Sticker Museum’
Children are born artists, and this sticker book is a fun way to introduce them to the museum. Please touch!
‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’ by Andrew Bolton
This book, formally known as “the exhibition catalogue,” but more correctly a perfect coffee table book, will inspire you to get yourself and your partner or best friend to the Met. Even a few hours with the designs of Karl Lagerfeld will be proof that his work was worthy of celebration.
‘The First Monday in May’
The First Monday in May is a behind-the-scenes documentary of all the planning that went into the 2015 Costume Institute exhibit, China: Through the Looking Glass. Gift this to a friend who is under the weather (or yourself on a day off).
Blue & White Ceramics Notepad & Glass Magnet Set
Let’s face it — sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to give the favorite coworker you only see on onsite workdays. This classy notepad and magnet set will say “Welcome back to the office!”
Peeters Bouquet of Flowers Glass Vase
Perhaps the most difficult person to shop for, your second mom will appreciate this truly lovely vase for all the flowers we're sure she cuts from her lush garden.
Byzantine Tesserae Oblong Silk Scarf
This scarf, colored like a Byzantine mosaic, is patterned very similarly to Lagerfeld’s Paint Box dress that Anna Wintour wore in 2014.
The Met Amazing Treasures Coloring Book: Reveal Wonders Inspired by Masterpieces from The Met Collection
Serenity Now! Coloring books are relaxing — and when your yoga teacher uses a Met coloring book, her creations are art, automatically suitable for framing!
The Three Graces Sculpture
One of the most wonderful aspects of the Met Gift shop is its collection of reproductions, including this copy of a Canova sculpture that resides in the museum's Roman wing. If you're redecorating, this is a gift to give yourself.
‘100 Dresses: The Costume Institute / The Metropolitan Museum of Art’
My first experience connecting history to fashion was seeing the First Ladies inaugural dresses at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. That exhibit and all the Met shows prove that history comes alive in fashion.
SCULPD Pottery Kit for Two
The best gifts for kids are something you can do together. This pottery kit can help you both get your hands dirty and nurture their creative side.
Ancient Gems Triple Drop Blue Lapis Earrings
Elevate the gift of jewelry by picking a design that reflects jewelry shown in the museum. This lapis pair is inspired by a 6th century Cypriot piece.
The Met Cloisters Garden Pitcher
This is the gift I would buy for a neighbor whom I don’t know well, but with whom I’d like to become friends. It’s the type of thing no one buys for themselves, but everyone covets.
‘From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’ by E.L. Konigsburg
If you haven’t read this terrific book about two kids who run away and end up living at The Met, then buy one copy for your niece or nephew, and buy another copy for yourself. It’s every New York City kid’s fantasy.
‘All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me’ by Patrick Bringley
This memoir, written by a former guard at The Met, perfectly captures the sense of peace and calm many of us feel in the museum. Not gossipy, but insidery, Bringley mentions specific art works, giving his readers a sense of which paintings and sculptures we shouldn't miss.
Alexander McQueen Eau Blanche By Alexander McQueen for Women Eau De Parfum Spray
A typical haute couture dress costs more money than most of us earn in a few months. Perfume is an indulgent way to capture that elegant feeling without your credit card company being forced to decline your purchase.
Chanel Fashion Review Paper Dolls in Full Color
Karl famously brought Chanel into the late 20th century, and these paper dolls, are perfect for a young child. Paper dolls, you may be surprised to learn, are one of the reasons we know how people dressed throughout history before there were cameras. They have been around since the early 18th century.
‘365 Days of Art: A Creative Exercise for Every Day of the Year’ by Lorna Scobie
Help a favorite relative cut down on their screen time with this adult activity book. The projects are easy and stimulate creativity.
The Met Cloisters Garden Oversize Structured Tote
If you’re ready to treat your mom or aunt to a truly lovely gift, this is the present to buy. Always in fashion, a book tote is the newest silhouette for shoppers in all countries.
You Might Also Like