What to wear to a night at the opera? A ball gown or tuxedo, right? Well, sure—but on any given night of the Met season, you’ll also see kilts, leather jumpsuits, feather boas, Victorian chic, lavish tattoo work, and other bold fashion choices. These and other looks are captured in full editorial glory on the Met’s style blog, LastNightattheMet.com, a collaboration of the opera house and photographer Rose Callahan. Launched in 2013 as a kind of operatic Sartorialist (the pioneering street-style blog), LNATM highlights the diverse personal style of Met audience members, showcasing their fashion flair on Tumblr and Instagram platforms.
“There really isn’t a dress code at the Met,” says Callahan, who roves the opera house pre-curtain and during intermission hunting for fashion plates. “But if you’re a person who likes to get dressed up, it’s an amazing opportunity. This is the place to break out that dress you want to wear, and there aren’t many places in New York like that.”
A quick swipe through the LNATM Instagram will quickly dispel any myth that the Met dress code is stuffy, uptight, or overly formal. You’ll see a mix of locals, tourists, and even celebrities in a panorama of eye-catching outfits. Subjects aren’t chosen for the most expensive or cutting-edge ensemble; rather, it’s passion for personal style that makes someone a great LNATM subject. “I’m drawn to people because they’re totally into their ‘thing’—whatever that is,” says Callahan, whose second book, We Are Dandy: The Elegant Gentleman Around the World, was published last year by Gestalten. “Their commitment to personal style makes me want to take their picture.”
LNATM has even made its way into the pages of the Wall Street Journal, which calls the blog “a buzz-creating social-media tool. It serves a practical purpose as well: answering the perennial question of what to wear to the opera.”
That’s Callahan’s goal. “I hope the blog gives people a feeling that taking risks is okay, to be brave, to wear that amazing outfit, to be yourself,” she says. “The Met is a really creative, amazing place, and when you show up to the opera as an audience member, you become part of the entire experience.”