What it’s like to work at the Met Gala, according to the Galway girl who has done it several times
As Met Gala anticipation hits fever pitch, we talk to Galway girl Michaela O’Shaughnessy, previously a Senior Social Manager at Glamour, who worked several times on the red carpet of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.
The Met Gala is widely regarded as the ‘Fashion Oscars’, with a guest list that includes the world’s most illustrious stars.
But while the glamour is intoxicating as we scroll through red carpet coverage on social media, it can be almost overwhelming to be working at the event on the night in question. One person who has been there, busy creating content from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, is Galway-native Michaela O’Shaughnessy, a digital media whizz who once held the title of Senior Social Manager at major Condé Nast publication, Glamour.
With several Met Galas under her belt (or rather, under her glitzy ball gown) thanks to her tenure at sister publication Teen Vogue, she has the whole thing down to a finely tuned operation.
Below, Michaela divulges her favourite elements of the star-studded night, flying the flag for Irish design and what working at the event really entails.
What was your reaction like when you found out you were going to your first Met Gala?
My first Met Gala was the most surreal experience. It’s always been an event that I’ve loved to watch unfold, even when I was back in Ireland. The first year I moved to New York, I lived about three blocks from the Met and I spent hours across the street watching all of the arrivals.
To get to go myself 12 months later was beyond a dream come true! I remember thinking to myself that it was a once in a lifetime experience and to take it all in the best I could.
What is your number one priority when working at the Met Gala?
My main goal on the night is to try and capture the best content I can in real time to post across Glamour’s social channels and hopefully get some great engagement.
Because there’s so many other media outlets there, covering the same event, it’s really important to be extra timely and make sure our pictures are some of the first that people see on the night.
Is it stressful, or can you enjoy the experience?
When you first arrive it’s a little daunting walking up the steps, but then as soon as you get to your spot on the carpet and talent starts arriving, it’s into full-on work mode.
I always breathe a tiny sigh of relief when the last person walks in and everything went well
It’s such a surreal experience, but it can definitely be very stressful as well because you’re trying to capture live content, communicate back to the team in the office and also manage the social posting. So there’s a lot happening at once and you’re trying to keep all cylinders moving.
I always breathe a tiny sigh of relief when the last person walks in and everything went well. It’s a pretty long day. I’ll go into the office in the morning to do some regular work, start getting ready around 1pm and then head uptown to the MET for a 3.30pm check-in. Usually, you have to hang around for a while before going to your spot on the carpet at 5.30pm and it all kicks off at 6pm… until about 9pm.
Then I’ll head home and continue posting any leftover content.
How much attention do you pay to the theme when selecting an outfit?
I don’t usually pay too much attention to the theme because I’m there in a professional capacity, as opposed to an attendee. I think my outfit this year is probably more on-theme than previous years.
Camp is all about having fun with your style, being extravagant and pushing boundaries.
You’ve previously worn dresses by Don O’Neill – how important is it for you to wear Irish?
Don has always been so good to dress me for previous Met Galas and it was always so important for me to wear something from a talented Irish designer. To be honest, it was a very last minute decision to go again this year, so I ended up just pulling something from the Vogue closet on Friday!
Can you sum up the atmosphere of the night?
Absolutely manic with so many pinch-me moments.
Who has been your favourite celeb sighting over the years?
Gosh there’s been so many! It was kind of funny seeing Kris Jenner wait at the top of the carpet for over 20 minutes until all of her girls were in. She genuinely seemed like such a proud mom which was sweet to see.
What’s almost more exciting than spotting the celebs themselves, is actually seeing them interact with each other on the carpet.
Who are you most excited to see on the red carpet?
Without a doubt I’m most excited about Harry Styles. Usually he’s one of those musicians who doesn’t really do any press so the opportunity to see him in the flesh is pretty non-existent.
To read more about Michaela’s life and career trajectory in NYC, check out her blog here.
This article was originally published in 2019.