Peeking behind the scenes of the Costume Institute, ahead of Monday's Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, induces fashion euphoria. Inside the installation studio is where curator in charge, Andrew Bolton, is preparing this year's Met Gala exhibit: "Camp: Notes on Fashion."
"Camp is… a very difficult term to define… which I think part of its power," Bolton told CBS News correspondent Nikki Battiste. "It's too much. Too many sequins, too many ruffles, too many feathers."
Tucked away in the Met's basement are more than 33,000 outfits and accessories, representing five continents and seven centuries of fashion. Bolton said the goal here is to record the evolution of fashion and its artistic development.
"Fashion to me is a complete reflection of the zeitgeist. It's a barometer to our times. So it's a great indicator of social as well as artistic history," Bolton said.
Just like most museums, there's no touching – "It just has to do with the sweat on your hands," Bolton said – and absolutely no one is allowed wear any of the garments here.
Conserving centuries-old items and complex materials like silicon or plastic is where conservator Sarah Scaturro and her laboratory colleagues come to the rescue.
"Everybody thinks plastic lasts forever. And unfortunately it does not, especially in fashion," Scaturro said. "We do have different kinds of temperatures and humidities that we can store our plastics in… all of the different materials expand and contract at different rates."
Scaturro said her team's work can be seen as fashion surgery.
"When the fabric is so brittle, we end up having to do an adhesive treatment which is essentially what it sounds like, gluing it back together," Scaturro said.
This area is so restricted that the few lucky visitors are usually PhD students or costume designers like Catherine Martin.
"You get to put white gloves on and you get to go through all the drawers. It's like the most magical sort of closet shopping experience… because you see things in reality you've only ever seen in picture books and there's a huge difference from seeing a photograph and seeing the reality," Martin said.
Her ideas for the 2013 film the "Great Gatsby" were inspired at the Costume Institute and won her an Oscar. There's a good chance a dress that dazzles this year's Met Gala red carpet could end up here too with its own spot in fashion history.
Asked who he'd bet on to wear the most provocative dress, Bolton said, "Cardi B, maybe."
"Lady Gaga will be amazing," he added. "Cardi B and Lady Gaga probably head to head."
Some of the outfits made of plastic are stored in freezers offsite to ensure their longevity.
Tickets to this year's gala are reportedly selling for $35,000 and table prices start at $200,000. Last year's gala raised more than $13 million for the Costume Institute, money that goes towards future exhibits, conservation of the costumes, and purchasing outfits and accessories.