In a pandemic twist on the traditional masquerade ball, masks seem likely to be the hottest accessory when celebrities sashay into this year’s Met Gala. The high-wattage fashion and celebrity event, cancelled by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in May 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, will kick off on 13 September in a more intimate form than usual because of health and safety concerns, says Kim Chey, the Met’s senior development officer for events. (In recent years around 600 luminaries attended, but that number has been trimmed by around a third, the Met says.) As is typical, the museum is cagey about who will be walking the storied red carpet. But the theme for attire is American independence, keyed to the Costume Institute exhibition opening on 18 September, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. All guests must show proof that they are fully vaccinated, in line with New York City regulations, and present a negative Covid-19 test result. The requirement that guests be masked indoors except when eating and drinking has stirred a bit of anticipation: “We shall see, but my hope is that guests will get creative with their mask choices,” says Chey. An unusually young array of co-hosts—Billie Eilish, Timothée Chalamet, Naomi Osaka, and Amanda Gorman—has been lined up, and Anna Wintour, Tom Ford and Adam Mosseri will be the honorary chairs. The Met hopes to host a full-scale gala next May to celebrate Part Two of the exhibition, In America: An Anthology of Fashion.