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Met Gala planning: Anna Wintour doesn’t learn staff names and keeps list of who’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ 

As the first Monday of May approaches – Anna Wintour is hard at work preparing for the highly anticipated Met Gala.

The annual star-studded ball, which is set to take place on Monday, May 2, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has become one of the most talked about and coveted events.

Branded by some as the biggest night in fashion, the high-profile fundraising gala has been hosted by Vogue’s editor-in-chief Wintour, 72, for nearly 30 years now, and it marks the opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Each year, on the first Monday of May, Hollywood’s biggest celebrities stomp the red carpet in their most extravagant and lavish outfits, many of which are compulsively talked about by the public. 

Met Gala planning: Anna Wintour doesn’t learn staff names and keeps list of who’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ 

As the first Monday of May approaches – Anna Wintour is hard at work preparing for the highly anticipated Met Gala. She is pictured at the event in 2014

But what goes into making the stylish celebration perfect? A biographer - who is gearing up to release a book about Wintour - has shared an inside look at the magazine editor's intense planning leading up to the big day

But what goes into making the stylish celebration perfect? A biographer – who is gearing up to release a book about Wintour – has shared an inside look at the magazine editor’s intense planning leading up to the big day

People from all around the world excitedly wait for the red carpet photos to hit the web, while the stars all try to outdo each other with their looks.

One year, Katy Perry wore a dress shaped like a chandelier – complete with fake candles and an enormous head piece – while Lady Gaga donned a pink gown which had 25-foot train attached to it.

But what goes into making the stylish celebration perfect? A biographer – who is gearing up to release a book about Wintour, called Anna: The Biography, on May 3 – has shared an inside look at the magazine editor’s intense planning leading up to the big day.

Author Amy Odell spoke with various Met staffers and other people who have worked with Wintour, and according to the writer, Wintour doesn’t learn Met staff names – but instead, she simply calls them ‘you’ – tries to hide artifacts from the museum that she finds ‘ugly,’ and keeps a list of those who are ‘in’ and ‘out.’

Former Met Gala planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff described Wintour as ‘militant’ during the weeks leading up the gala, while chatting with Odell for the upcoming biography, as revealed in an excerpt by Time Magazine.

Wolkoff is no stranger to going up against powerful former bosses, as she is the former senior advisor to first lady Melania Trump. 

In 2020, she published a tell-all book, entitled Melania and Me, where she candidly spoke about the rise and fall of her friendship with former president Donald Trump’s wife.

In the book, Wolkoff revealed that Melania turned down a Vogue photoshoot because she wasn’t guaranteed the cover, making her the only First Lady in recent history not to be featured in the fashion bible during her time in the White House.

It was widely believed that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour had snubbed Mrs. Trump by not asking her to be featured in the magazine, but Wolkoff insisted that wasn’t the case in the book. 

Branded by some as the biggest night in fashion, the high-profile fundraising gala has been hosted by Vogue's editor-in-chief Wintour, 72, for nearly 30 years now. She is pictured at the Met Gala in 2007

Branded by some as the biggest night in fashion, the high-profile fundraising gala has been hosted by Vogue’s editor-in-chief Wintour, 72, for nearly 30 years now. She is pictured at the Met Gala in 2007

According to author Amy Odell, Wintour doesn't learn Met staff names - but instead, she often just points at the staff member and addresses them as 'you.' She is pictured at the Met in 2018

According to author Amy Odell, Wintour doesn’t learn Met staff names – but instead, she often just points at the staff member and addresses them as ‘you.’ She is pictured at the Met in 2018

Another of Wintour’s staff members, whose name was not included, told Odell that planning for the event starts in early fall, and that meetings are held at the Met every four to six weeks. 

Former Met Gala planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff described Wintour as 'militant' during the weeks leading up the gala

Former Met Gala planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff described Wintour as ‘militant’ during the weeks leading up the gala 

Despite the museum allegedly pushing to lower the cost of the event, the staff member claimed that Wintour wants the glamorous soirée to be bigger and better every year – using 4,000 pound floral arrangements at last year’s Gala, for example.

The anonymous employee claimed that Wintour never learns the Met staff members’ names, despite working with them for many years now. They claimed she often just points at the staff member and addresses them as ‘you,’ or simply gets their names wrong.

‘Her directives have often been so absurd the Met team just laughs them off,’ Odell reported.

Two other people close to Wintour recalled a time that she asked the Met to cover up the historical Temple of Dendur – a Roman Egyptian temple built in 15 B.C. which is on display at the museum – because she felt it didn’t look good, and when they didn’t agree, she decided to build a stage in front of it so that the guests wouldn’t see it.

Others said the editor tries to hide artifacts from the museum that she finds 'ugly,' and keeps a list of those who are 'in' and those who are 'out'

Others said the editor tries to hide artifacts from the museum that she finds ‘ugly,’ and keeps a list of those who are ‘in’ and those who are ‘out’

During the party, Wolkoff explained that Wintour wants Vogue staff to know every single detail about each celebrity's arrival. Rihanna is pictured at the Gala in 2017

During the party, Wolkoff explained that Wintour wants Vogue staff to know every single detail about each celebrity's arrival. Pete Davidson is pictured at the Gala in 2021

During the party, Wolkoff explained that Wintour wants Vogue staff to know every single detail about each celebrity’s arrival. Rihanna (left) and Pete Davidson (right) are pictured at the Gala

When it comes to the outfits, Wintour encourages guests to wear over-the-top looks. Longtime friend of Wintour's, Lisa Love, explained, 'She loves a dress-up party.' Kim Kardashian is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

When it comes to the outfits, Wintour encourages guests to wear over-the-top looks. Longtime friend of Wintour’s, Lisa Love, explained, ‘She loves a dress-up party.’ Kim Kardashian is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

During the party, Wolkoff explained that Wintour wants Vogue staff to know every single detail about each celebrity’s arrival – including when they’re going to get there (every star has their own prearranged time), what car they’re going to come in, and what they’re wearing.

Wintour reportedly pays attention to every single detail throughout the night. Former director of Vogue and longtime friend of Wintour’s, Lisa Love, recalled the executive asking her during the 2019 Met Gala, ‘Can you please tell [Kim Kardashian] to sit down?’ when she noticed that the reality star was standing throughout the dinner.

It turns out, Kardashian physically couldn’t take a seat due to how tight her custom, latex Thierry Mugler dress was.

When it comes to the outfits, Wintour encourages guests to wear over-the-top looks.

‘It’s that English part of her. She loves a dress-up party,’ explained Love.

According to Odell, Wintour controls every aspect of the guest list, and decides who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out.’

The ‘out’ list includes Paris and Nicole Hilton, ‘low-performing artists,’ and any planners who angered her throughout the process.

As for the ‘in’ list, Odell stated that anyone whose ‘success, power, creativity, and beauty is undeniable’ is allowed to attend.

Each year, on the first Monday of May, Hollywood's biggest celebrities stomp the red carpet in their most extravagant and lavish outfits. Cardi B is pictured at the event in 2019

Each year, on the first Monday of May, Hollywood’s biggest celebrities stomp the red carpet in their most extravagant and lavish outfits. Cardi B is pictured at the event in 2019

According to Odell, Wintour controls every aspect of the guest list, and decides who is allowed 'in' and who is 'out.' Lady Gaga is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

According to Odell, Wintour controls every aspect of the guest list, and decides who is allowed ‘in’ and who is ‘out.’ Lady Gaga is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

‘A night of excess and exhibition, the Met Gala is where Wintour flaunts her dominance over an industry that’s predicated on the understanding that there is an “in” and an “out,”‘ she explained.

‘Wintour’s longevity as a fashion mega-influencer in a business that is fickle by design is unmatched, and the Met Gala is the ultimate manifestation of her power.’ 

Despite the museum allegedly pushing to lower the cost of the event, a staff member claimed that Wintour wants the glamorous soirée to be bigger and better every year. Katy Perry is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

Despite the museum allegedly pushing to lower the cost of the event, a staff member claimed that Wintour wants the glamorous soirée to be bigger and better every year. Katy Perry is pictured at the Met Gala in 2019

Some begin as ‘in’ and get moved to ‘out’ – like the late André Leon Talley, who worked with her at Vogue for many years, but later claimed their relationship left him with ’emotional and psychological scars.’

Others weren’t allowed to come at first, but later made the list – like Kardashian, who has attended every year since 2013.

And her decision on whether you’re ‘in’ or ‘out’ extends further than the party. According to Love, once you’re on Wintour’s bad side, you don’t stand a chance of making your way back into her inner circle.

‘If you get frozen by her, that’s it. She’s a Scorpio, you’re done. It’s that cold,’ she said.

The Met Gala was first established in 1948 as a way to raise money for the newly-founded Costume Institute. 

Wintour, who is also Condé Nast’s global chief content officer, has been hosting it since 1995.

‘Anna has been in the public eye for 30 years, speaks regularly about her life and work, and yet she has often found herself in a position in which others claim to be telling her story,’ a spokesperson for Vogue told Time in response to the upcoming book, which was written without her participation. 

Back in 2016, a movie documenting the preparations for the 2015 Met Gala, entitled First Monday in May, was released. A still from the flick is pictured

Back in 2016, a movie documenting the preparations for the 2015 Met Gala, entitled First Monday in May, was released. A still from the flick is pictured

Following Wintour through the meticulous planning process, as well as the party itself, The First Monday in May shed a light on the drama that goes on behind-the-scenes when getting ready for such a star-studded event

Following Wintour through the meticulous planning process, as well as the party itself, The First Monday in May shed a light on the drama that goes on behind-the-scenes when getting ready for such a star-studded event

As cameras followed Wintour working out the details of what she described as the 'biggest' exhibit they'd ever done, viewers got to see her create the guest list and the seating chart

As cameras followed Wintour working out the details of what she described as the 'biggest' exhibit they'd ever done, viewers got to see her create the guest list and the seating chart

As cameras followed Wintour working out the details of what she described as the ‘biggest’ exhibit they’d ever done, viewers got to see her create the guest list and the seating chart

Back in 2016, a movie documenting the preparations for the 2015 Met Gala, entitled First Monday in May, was released.

Following Wintour through the meticulous planning process, as well as the party itself, The First Monday in May shed a light on the drama that goes on behind-the-scenes when getting ready for such a star-studded event. 

It showed staffers frantically fretting over Rihanna’s sky-high asking price to perform, Wintour demanding that a certain mystery guest not be on his cell phone the whole night, and both the Vogue boss and the museum exhibit’s curator Andrew Bolton worrying that the China-themed show would come off as racist or kitschy, looking more like a Chinese restaurant than a glamorous A-list event. 

‘This show is meant to be controversial, but I’m not afraid of controversy,’ said Bolton in the flick, before adding that they still had to avoid anything that could be interpreted as racist.

‘Andrew is a real visionary,’ Wintour added. ‘It’s rare to find someone so creative that they change the way you look at art.’ 

As cameras followed Wintour working out the details of what she described as the ‘biggest’ exhibit they’d ever done, viewers got to see the show – which brought 800,000 visitors to the Met that summer – coming together, including the creation of the guest list and the seating chart. 

However, after the film came out, Wintour slammed filmmaker Andrew Rossi for making her look like ‘a fool’ in the documentary.

‘I have learned that documentary makers are incredibly sneaky people,’ she said during an appearance on the Today Show

‘[They are] very elegant, very kind, and very low key. They just follow you around until you make a complete fool of yourself and say something you deeply regret.’ 

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