15 Most Iconic Met Gala Looks Over the Years

Fashion’s Biggest Night

The Met Gala, an annual extravaganza showcasing the best of the fashion world, has become a legendary event. In 1948, fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert initiated what is now known as “fashion’s largest night out” as a means to raise funds for the newly established Costume Institute and celebrate the launch of its annual exhibition.

The inaugural Gala was an elaborate dinner, with tickets priced at fifty dollars each. Since then, the event has been held on the first Monday of May, gracing the red-carpeted steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This year, the Met Gala is scheduled for May 1, and it will pay homage to the late Karl Lagerfeld with the theme “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” in honor of Lagerfeld’s status as a regular attendee of the gala.

The evening promises to be a dazzling showcase of glamour, art, and the signature style seen throughout Karl’s remarkable career. But before May 1 arrives, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most unforgettable Met Gala outfits from previous years.

Cher | Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design, 1974

Cher made a bold statement with her Bob Mackie outfit at the 1974 Met Gala, commonly known as the Naked dress. This iconic ensemble, created using French material called souffle, which was banned in the United States, was moistened to cling to her body, giving the illusion of nudity. It became so renowned that it graced the cover of TIME magazine. In 2015, Kim Kardashian drew inspiration from this daring style for her own Met Gala gown.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis | Fashions of the Habsburg Era: Austria-Hungary, 1979

Though not holding a formal royal title, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was undeniably regarded as American royalty. In 1979, she made her legendary Met Gala debut, donning a strapless black Valentino gown accompanied by a matching ruffled shawl. Her exquisite attire perfectly aligned with the Costume Institute’s exhibition titled “Fashion of the Habsburg Era: Austria-Hungary.”

Cher | Costumes of Royal India, 1985

Cher turned heads once again at the 1985 Met Gala, which celebrated “Costumes of Imperial India.” She graced the event wearing a bejeweled unitard and a low-cut skirt designed by Bob Mackie. Ornate jewelry adorned her ears, completing the mesmerizing look. While some attendees were taken aback by Cher’s bold choice, it solidified her status as a fashion icon and emphasized her close friendship with designer Bob Mackie. Today, this ensemble remains one of the most iconic and unforgettable in Met Gala history.

Gisele Bündchen | Rock Style, 1999

In 1999, supermodel Gisele Bündchen captivated everyone at the Met Gala with her stunning beaded Versace gown featuring zigzag patterning. The crimson and pink pearls elegantly contrasted the nude lining, and Bündchen kept her accessories minimal, allowing her natural beauty to shine through. Her slicked-back, beach wave hair and high cheekbones perfectly complemented the mesmerizing ensemble.

Rihanna | China: Through the Looking Glass, 2015

Rihanna stole the show at the 2015 Met Gala with a custom-made golden coat designed by Chinese designer Guo Pei. Adorned with fur and gems, this ensemble was a tribute to Chinese culture and craftsmanship, which were the focal points of the evening. Rihanna’s striking makeup and stylish hair perfectly complemented the coat, creating an unforgettable red carpet moment.

Nicole Kidman | Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, 2016

Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman made a striking entrance at the 2016 Met Gala. She wore a crystal-encrusted Alexander McQueen dress adorned with celestial designs, symbolizing the theme “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” The black gown featured a cut-out bodice and a detachable sheer cape, embellished with moons and stars cascading down the column silhouette. Kidman completed her regal look with a swept-up hairstyle and a beautiful headpiece.

Blake Lively | Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, 2018

Blake Lively’s appearance at the 2018 Met Gala became one of the most talked-about moments in Met Gala history. As a co-chair of the event, Lively mesmerized in an elaborate ruby Versace gown with a beaded train and a jeweled corset, which took a staggering 600 hours to create. The ensemble perfectly embodied the theme “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” To complete the look, Lively wore a stunning gold headdress, exuding the aura of a Venetian queen.

Chadwick Boseman | Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, 2018

The late actor Chadwick Boseman left an indelible mark at the 2018 Met Gala with his all-white Versace ensemble. Adorned with ornate gold beading and regal detailing, his suit and overcoat paid homage to the night’s theme, which explored the intersection of fashion and the Catholic faith. Boseman’s attire not only embraced the theme but also celebrated his forthcoming role as King T’Challa in the highly anticipated Marvel movie, Black Panther.

Zendaya | Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, 2018

Zendaya has consistently made waves on the red carpet, and her appearance at the 2018 Met Gala solidified her status as a fashion force. She effortlessly dominated the Met’s stairs in a handcrafted Versace gown, adorned with armor, chainmail, and shimmering sequins. The ensemble was a perfect fit for the theme “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” Zendaya accessorized with accentuated jewels and donned the legendary Maid of Orleans’ haircut, creating a truly iconic look.

Zendaya | Camp: Notes on Fashion, 2019

Zendaya continued her red carpet reign at the 2019 Met Gala with a stunning blue Tommy Hilfiger gown. Stepping away from her Disney princess image, she embraced the theme “Camp: Notes on Fashion” with a fairytale-inspired outfit. Her stylist, Law Roach, accompanied her in a fairy godmother costume, complete with a wand. With a few waves and wisps of smoke, Roach magically transformed Zendaya’s grey gown into a vibrant blue hue, leaving everyone in awe.

Lady Gaga | Camp: Notes on Fashion, 2019

Lady Gaga, known for her avant-garde style, took the 2019 Met Gala theme to heart with not one but four different outfits. Her standout look of the night was a fluffy, hot pink Brandon Maxwell dress adorned with a matching oversized bow. This ensemble perfectly captured the essence of the “Camp: Notes on Fashion” theme and solidified Gaga’s reputation as a daring fashion icon. Her multiple costume changes throughout the evening further showcased her commitment to the theme and her fearless fashion choices.

Kendall Jenner | In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, 2021

At the 2021 Met Gala, Kendall Jenner embraced the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” with her translucent Givenchy gown. Dripping in diamonds from head to toe, she exuded American grandeur. Her spectacular choker necklace and crystal-studded heels added the perfect finishing touches to her Audrey Hepburn-inspired ensemble. Created by Ralph & Russo, the black turtleneck dress featured a high slit, and when the oversized side bow was loosened, it revealed a turquoise underlayer, paying homage to the iconic Statue of Liberty.

Lil Nas X | In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, 2021

In his debut Met Gala appearance, Lil Nas X made a lasting impression. The singer, known for his bold fashion choices, arrived in an extravagant gold robe designed by Versace. As the evening unfolded, he revealed two equally stunning outfits—a gold body armor suit and a skin-tight beaded catsuit. Lil Nas X fully embraced the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” showcasing his daring style and captivating the red carpet with his sartorial choices.

Billie Eilish | In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, 2021

Billie Eilish turned heads in a frothy peach masterpiece by ODLR at the 2021 Met Gala. Her elegant ensemble featured a long skirt, train, and a shoulder wrap reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic style. Accessorized with Cartier jewelry and Jimmy Choo platform heels, she radiated glamour and confidence. Billie’s attire perfectly embodied the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” making a bold statement and solidifying her position as a style icon.

Blake Lively | Gilded Age, 2022

Blake Lively once again made a stunning appearance at the Met Gala in 2022. She wore a rose-gold Versace gown with a beaded bodice inspired by art deco architecture. The Gilded Age, spanning from 1870 to 1900, was characterized by intense industrialization and a renewed interest in iconic structures that were not only functional but also visually striking. The dress featured a huge side bow that, when loosened, revealed a turquoise underlayer, paying homage to the Statue of Liberty. Blake Lively effortlessly channeled the glitz and glamour of the Gilded Age.

The Met Gala has continually captivated the fashion world with its breathtaking ensembles and adherence to unique themes. Each year, designers, celebrities, and fashion enthusiasts come together to create unforgettable moments that celebrate the artistry and creativity of the fashion industry. As we eagerly await this year’s event, let us cherish the iconic looks and memories that have graced the Met Gala throughout the years.

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