Rarely seen photos from the Met Gala show celebrities letting loose


The event, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, coincides with the opening of a retrospective of Lagerfeld's work on display at the museum's Costume Institute. The German designer was best known for helming the creative direction of Chanel for more than three decades, and Fendi for half a century, but he also left his mark on Chloé, Patou and Balmain during his career, in addition to running his own eponymous label.
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While red carpet photos of the Met Gala have become instantly accessible, documentation of the splashy gala has changed in recent years, as photographers have largely been limited to snapping attendees' highly posed entrances; the images that come from the tightly controlled press area are polished and repetitive. To see celebrities letting loose (the likes of Bella Hadid and Marc Jacobs gathering in the bathroom for smoking breaks, for example) you'd have to turn to after-party photos or their Instagram feeds.
Images from the galas of yesteryear are enticing because of their nostalgia factor and retro styling, but they also reveal a more relaxed atmosphere.
Photographer Rose Hartman, who photographed the gala for decades until the early 2000s, recalled over the phone a time when there was more freedom to move around and engage with attendees. In 1986, she photographed actress Lynda Carter and socialite Blaine Trump mid-laugh.
"They were just so happily speaking to one another rather than posing," Hartman told CNN in 2020. "I always try whenever possible to capture people who are engaged with one another."
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Photographer Ron Galella, who has photographed the gala since 1967, had a system in place to grab the best shots, from arrivals at coat check to the museum floor and dinner. "It was easy to shoot inside," he wrote via e-mail in 2020. "A New York Press card was all you needed to gain entry." (When press passes eventually became limited, there were years he smuggled himself in through the employee entrance.)


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