Everything to Know About the 2021 Met Gala: The Theme, Co-Chairs, Covid Protocols and Beyond

From the guest list and dress code to the mask mandate, here's how the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala will look different this year

Met Monday is back! After a pandemic hiatus, fashion's biggest night, which is usually held on the first Monday in May, will return Sept. 13. While this year's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala is being touted as a "more intimate" affair, it will still be a star-studded event as organizers have established strict protocols for the health and safety of all guests.

So what will the return of the Met look like? Here's what we know: There will be a step and repeat ascending the museum's iconic steps. There will be lots of over-the-top ensembles. There will be a livestream. And yes, there will likely be a viral fashion moment from Rihanna. Sprinkle in a few celebrity couple debuts and some couture-clad baby bumps and you will be teleported back to the much simpler days of red carpet fashun.

Read on for everything to expect from the 2021 Met Gala.

The Theme

This year's Met Gala will be a salute to the evolution of American fashion, and celebrate the role of American labels in championing sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

The Sept. 13 benefit event will kick off a two-part exhibition. Part one, titled In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, will debut on September 18, 2021, and run through September 5, 2022, to "celebrate The Costume Institute's 75th anniversary and explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion," according to Vogue and exhibit organizers.

"I've been really impressed by American designers' responses to the social and political climate, particularly around issues of body inclusivity and gender fluidity, and I'm just finding their work very, very self-reflective," Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute, told Vogue earlier this year. "I really do believe that American fashion is undergoing a renaissance. I think young designers in particular are at the vanguard of discussions about diversity and inclusion, as well as sustainability and transparency, much more so than their European counterparts, maybe with the exception of the English designers."

Part two, In America: An Anthology of Fashion, will open on May 5, 2022, and "will explore the development of American fashion by presenting narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of those spaces." It will also close on September 5, 2022.

The Co-Chairs

It's a Gen Z takeover! A new class of industry tastemakers have been enlisted to host this year's gala including Timothée Chalamet, 26, Billie Eilish, 19, Naomi Osaka, 23, and Amanda Gorman, 23. Honorary chairs for the evening will be designer Tom Ford, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

Timothée Chalamet; Amanda Gorman; Naomi Osaka; Billie Eilish
Timothée Chalamet; Amanda Gorman; Naomi Osaka; Billie Eilish. Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

While the Chalamet, Gorman, Osaka and Eilish are the youngest group of Met Gala co-chairs ever selected, Vogue championed each star for breaking down barriers, embracing individualism and making "their mark in fashion" early on in their careers.

Gorman, who catapulted into the spotlight when she read her impassioned poem "The Hill We Climb" at Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, said taking on the role as co-chair "feels like being a freshman at a party with seniors. You know? Like I just arrived here. My life has changed quite recently and they are all at the top of their game, and so I'm just absorbing what it means to be able to stand beside their greatness."

The Dress Code

The Met Gala invitation lists the dress code as "American independence," which likely means we'll see a celebration of American designers, ranging from industry vets like Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Vera Wang to new fashion scene stars like Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson. Also expect to see some patriotic makeup looks, lots of star-spangled, sparkly sequins and maybe even Katy Perry dressed up as Lady Liberty (she loves a theme!).

The Guest List

While big names like Rihanna are expected, this year's gala may also see influencers and Gen Z tastemakers making their Met debut. With the youngest co-chairs yet, a sea of Zoomers on the carpet could be likely.

The COVID-19 Restrictions

Met Gala event organizers have issued a vaccination mandate and mask requirement for all attending this year's benefit.

"Currently, all attendees at The Met Gala on September 13 must provide proof of full vaccination and will also be expected to wear masks indoors except when eating or drinking," a spokesperson for The Met confirmed to PEOPLE. "We will update these guidelines as needed."

We can't wait to see how stars match their masks to their one-of-a-kind outfits.

Where to Watch

Put on your favorite sweats and poor a glass of bubbly because thanks to Vogue, you can watch all the 2021 Met Gala action from your couch.

Actress and recording artist Keke Palmer and comedian, writer and director Ilana Glazer, will host a livestream of the event kicking off at 5:30pm ET on Sept. 13. And Vogue promises "unprecedented access" including interviews with A-list celebrities, designers and other industry tastemakers as they hit the famous Met Gala red carpet.

The stream will be broadcast live across Vogue's platforms, including vogue.com and on Twitter @voguemagazine.

The Afterparty

After skipping the event in 2019 to focus on a new product launch for her Fenty Beauty line, Rihanna — arguably the most hotly anticipated guest at the Met each year — will make her grand return to the Met Gala red carpet.

Getty (3)

Rih also revealed on her Instagram story that she will be hosting the annual Met Gala afterparty, which means we can expect an epic outfit change. Now we just have to wait and see if she'll bring boyfriend A$AP Rocky as her plus-one.

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