The Most Iconic Met Gala Outfits

Nov/21/2021 / by Melanie Fourie
Met gala dress
Image credits: VIP Area Red Carpet The Ceremony via Pixabay
The Met Gala is an annual red carpet fundraising event.

The prestigious annual event, also referred to as the Met ball, first took place in 1948. This red carpet event is one of the ultimate showcases of remarkable, as well as flamboyant and over-the-top fashion. It was first hosted by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, the founder of Vanity Fair’s best dressed list. Back then the Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art needed funding. Lambert thought it ideal to chair and host a fundraising dinner for Manhattan’s elite. The initial black tie event was not one of epic proportions. Diana Freeland, a previous Vogue editor took over the reins thereafter, followed Anna Wintour in 1995.  Under the leadership of Diana, the charity event gained momentum, and by the early 70’s it became the playground for the rich and famous the world over. Since then it has presented the most spectacular unequivocal glamour, usually showcased on runways. Celebrities from near and far congregate at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts on New York’s 5th Avenue, all in the name of fashion fundraising every year. This Year, the theme was titled ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’. Celebrities like Keke Palmer and Ilana Glazer put forth some sterling presenting skills when they interviewed some of the stars making an entrance. A few of the co-chairs for this year’s event including singer Billie Eilish, tennis star Naomi Osaka and poet Amanda Gorman. 

Some other memorable past themes are Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy from 2008, 2015’s China: Through the Looking Glass and 2010’s theme titled ‘American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity’. Seeing that this is deemed the social event of the year, it’s no surprise that tickets this year cost approximately $30,000. This is a rather significant increase since individual tickets went for $1,000 in 1995. Met Gala supporters also have the option of buying a table for the evening at a whopping $275,000. Note that several celebrities don’t actually purchase a ticket or even a dress, as Met Gala fashion brands or sponsors loan them Met Gala outfits in exchange for the enormous exposure a brand would garner in return. This event usually sees about 700 guests. It’s also the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute main income stream. 

So exactly how much does this charity event rake in? Well, Forbes notes that the event raised $12 million in 2017. The event continues to generate enormous funds and brought in $15 million in 2019. That being said, here are some of the most iconic Met Gala looks of all time. 

Met Gala Guide

Read further to discover what you need to know about who aced the Met Gala dress codes. You’ll also find out what some of the best Meta Gala fashion themes were, as well as a look at some of the most memorable or best Met Gala Gala dresses. 

Memorable Met Gala Dress Codes

Some of the Met Gala dress themes for the past few years includes the following.

In 2011, the Met Gala Outfits theme was titled Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. The event saw designers such as Daphne Guinness strutting her stuff in a striking feathered design by McQueen. In 2012 the dress code was Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. The idea here was the pairing of these two iconic designers from different eras. To complement this dual like and contrasting theme, Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame wore a color blocking shift dress. This unique ensemble had a color block bottom or skirt, and a design similar to that of snakeskin at the top. Her contrasting dress was a Balenciaga original. 

The 2013 Met Gala dress code was all about Punk: Chaos to Couture. Miley Cyrus rocked this look well, with her punk like floor-length black mesh Marc Jacob’s original and her spikey hairdo. Some of the co-chairs for this event was Riccardo Tisci and Rooney Mara. The entire theme was primarily about how the punk era had influenced fashion trends. 

Those attending the 2014 Met Gala had to adhere to the dress code titled: Charles James: Beyond Fashion. One of the event’s co-chairs was none other than Sarah Jessica Parker. She rocked one of the most elegant Oscar de la Renta gowns imaginable. The starlet wore her hair in an up style fit for a princess. The black and white ball gown was two-toned with white and white with black checkered liked lines. The bodice was black with spaghetti shoulder straps, and complemented with a pair of elegant long white gloves. 

2015 Saw the Meta Gala dress coded theme titled, China: Through the Looking Glass. This theme explored how China had influenced the Western world’s fashion scene. In 2016, the theme for this prestigious annual event was titled Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. In line with this high tech look, several of the Met Gala attendees wore metallic like ensembles. Taylor Swift shone in a black and metallic colored Luis Vuitton mini dress, complete with strappy black heels. The songbird’s signature red lipstick was also swopped for a more dramatic black lip shade. 

The 2018 Met Gala saw themes like Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination coming to the fore. In 2019, the annual dress code was titled Camp: Notes on Fashion Theme, and in 2020 there was no Met Gala due to pandemic restrictions. However, although the event was cancelled, the proposed theme for 2020 was titled About Time: Fashion and Duration. 

Some of the Best Met Gala Looks Ever

Some of the best looks for the 2021 Meta Gala had to have been co-chair Billy Eilish’s dress by the legendary Oscar de la Renta. This pastel peach gown has a lengthy tulle tail that swept across several steps as she entered the museum. She shone a like Monroe with her blonde locks and classic make up look. The gown sported a fitted bodice too. 

For this year, Emily Blunt dazzled in a Miu Miu floor length gown. The gown was sheer with silver embellishment, and topped with a long white cape. It also had white fabrics strategically draped over the chest section. Its collar was also silver embellished and resembled a choker. The celeb complemented the look with geometric drop down earrings and a diamond bracelet. Her makeup was flawless with a pale pink lip color and eyes a tad smoky. She finished off this aesthetic with a pair of silver strappy sandals. 

This year, Sienna Miller also shone in a Gucci floor length gown. The gown was a champagne hue with silver embellishments. She completed the look with a champagne colored furry cape. Anok Yai looked beautiful in an Oscar de la Renta creation. The dress was black and cream with a front slit. The black fabric was sheer with eye-catching cream flowers embroidered all over it. The neckline of the creation was plunging, and the celeb coupled the dress with a pair of black strappy sandals. She also draped a black fur like throw over the dress. Ariana DeBose looked spectacular in a Michael Kors gown. The floor length dress was silver with sequins and spaghetti straps. She coupled this crystal look with a metallic or silver clutch bag and matching sandals. 

Even though the 2020 event was cancelled, nothing could get in Katy Perry’s way of showing the world what she intended to wear, by sharing it on her Instagram account. The post revealed a quilted mauve Jean Paul Gaultier corset. 

In 2019 Serena Williams turned heads in a yellow and pink embellished floor length gown by Versace. The dress had a train too and she complemented all of this splendor with some De Grisogono jewels. Celine Dion dazzled in an Oscar de la Renta ensemble too. Her peacock like Noel Stewart head dress complemented the metallic fringe gown. She finished off the look with pair of flapper like silver Chloe Gosselin shoes. 

Kylie Jenner also turned heads in a soft lilac Atelier Versace gown. She wore a flesh colored bodysuit underneath the dress. The dress had a mesh like embroidered see through mermaid look, with the tail end completely fur. The lilac sleeves were exceptionally wide and made of faux fur. The celeb wore her hair straight with a path and dyed lilac to match the hue of her ensemble. 

In 2018, celebs that left others in awe with some best Met Gala outfits included Blake Lively. She looked remarkable in a burgundy and gold sequin gown by Atelier Versace. The spectacular dress had a regal looking gold bodice with an equally regal looking train. Blake complemented the gown with burgundy and gold Christian Louboutin shoes and a matching designer bag by Judith Leiber Couture. 

2017 saw icons like Rihanna wore a Comme des Garcons gown. The gown resembled 3-D flowers and had ample pink and red in it. She completed the design by applying a smoky eye look in pink and with a pair of strappy red sandals. Selena Gomez looked elegant a pink eyeshadow look, sleek angled bob hairdo and sheer Coach gown.  One of the most iconic Met Gala looks is that of Zenda. This beautiful brightly colored gown by Dolce & Gabbana showcased birds and flora. It also had a dark orange hemline that matched the parts of the sleeves that went off-the-shoulder. The celeb added to the look with some bold orange lip color. Blake Lively looked stunning in a floor length gold and blue sequined gown. The end of the gown also resembled blue and gold feathers. Her husband complemented her look with a blue bowtie. 

The best Met Gala fashion looks for 2016 had to have been Claire Danes in a Cinderella like Zac Posen gown. To complement this look she pulled her hair back into an elegant chignon. Emma Watson also dazzled in a Calvin Klein gown. The gown comprised a feminine off-the-shoulder black cream bodice with black edging. The straight cut gown was black with a long train too. To finish off this demure look, the actress wore her hair in an up style. 

Actress Kerry Washington stunned in a black Marc Jacobs black number. The gown had a bit of a train and a side slit to the thigh. It also comprised some silver sequins, and sported a V-shaped neck line. Miss Washington complemented the sultry look with a pair of long black mesh gloves and some strappy black sandals. 

Gigi Hadid stunned in a Tommy Hilfiger metallic silver gown. The gown was floor length with a T-bar liked design extending from the neck to the bodice. She wore her hair in a classic looking chignon for added elegance. 

Kate Hudson also shone in a Versace gown. Her gown was white with gold sequins. Its bodice was that of a mermaid style that came to above the knee, before flowing into a gown. Blake Lively is known to shine in some of the most iconic Met Gala dresses, and she did so once again at the 2016 Met Gala. This time, her dress was by Burberry. The satin dress was floor length and had slits. It also had a cape like train embellished with the most breathtaking pink flowers. Actress Jessica also stunned that evening in a blue and black Prada ball gown. The blue sleeveless gown had black detail at the chest, as well as some black patterns on the gown section. The hem was finished with black edging too. Another lady that dazzled at this event has to be Emma Stone. She wore a white Grecian style dress by Prada. The flowing dress had a halter neck and a small train. To break the white, it comprised a metallic silver sash across the waistline. This accentuated Emma’s slender form more. 

Some of the best dressed women at the 2015 Met Gala included Amal Clooney. She wore a striking red John Galliano dress. The dress had a bustier style top with a ruffle skirt section. She topped off the look with a splash of red lipstick to complement this bold color. Another fantastic red dress was worn by Allison Williams. The dress was designed by Giambattista Valli. It was made of a dual fabric type, with a wider tulle layer at the bottom. The dress had black in it too at the waistline, along the neck line and on the sleeves. 

Diane Kruger shone in a pants at the 2015 Met Gala. The pant by Chanel looked elegant and was embossed. She coupled it with a long tunic style embossed bustier and a red heat shaped handbag. She also draped a sheer pastel pink sash across her thighs at the edge of the top. The sash reached the floor in a similar fashion to that of an elegant train. To finish off the look, she painted her toe and fingernails red to match her bag, and wore a pair of elegant white strappy sandals. 

Cher also rocked up at this event in a Marc Jacobs evening gown. The gown was a simplistic flood length design in metallic red. It also showcased geometric shapes in metallic grey across the red for contrast. Her gown has three quarter sleeves with a plunging V-shaped neck line.  

For the 2014 Met Gala, Emmy Rossum shone in a yellow floral ball gown by Carolina Herrera. Another notable outfit for this event was that of Zoe Saldana. She wore a black and white floral ensemble by Michael Kors. This elegant gown had a monochrome halter neck top with a black and white floral bubble or tiered puffball skirt. She finished off this look with an elegant black clutch bag. Kendell Jenner looked demure in a gown by Topshop. Her hair was combed back in a sleek look to complement the streamlined look of this dress. The cream dress had a bustier style top, with a mermaid style skirt. She finished off this simple look with a touch of pale pink lipstick, a diamond necklace and an embellished clutch bag. 

2013 Saw celebrities like celebs like Jennifer Lawrence wearing a black Dior ankle length evening gown. She dress was sequined with a sheer satin belt and a bustier top. She wore black sandals with a black envelope style clutch bag to finish off this simplistic, yet elegant look. For added flair, she donned a black lace veil over her face. That, coupled with bright red lip color emphasized the overall demure look even more. And speaking of Jennifer’s. There was another Jennifer who too stunned that evening. Jennifer Lopez graced the event in a Michael Kors animal print dress. The dress had a round neck though, so no skin was revealed with this ensemble. It was also floor length and had a little train. To add dramatic effect, the singer coupled the look with a smoky eye and nude lip makeup look. 

For 2012, the Met Gala showcased celebrities like Carey Mulligan wear Prada ensembles like a two-tone metallic orange and silver get up. The dress was a halter neck and the design on the skirt looked a lot like fish scales. She topped the look off with a silver high heels and a dramatic smoky eye look to match the metallic silver in the skirt part of her dress.

The 2011 Met Gala had celebrities like Ciara grace the red carpet in a floor length gown. This glossy gown was white with a train and had a bustier style bodice. The singer also wore her black hair long and finished off this look with a silver and black bracelets on both arms. Sofia Vergara looked elegant in a black, cream and green bustier style floor length gown. The bodice of this dress comprised a cream bustier with a green sash style band and a black skirt section with green and cream flower designs to match the rest of the dress. 


What is Met Gala dress code?

The met gala dress code is formal. For 2021, the official dress code theme in line with the annual theme of the Costume Institute, was American Independence. The works of designers such as Tory Burch, Peter Dundas and Iris van Herpen came to the fore with this theme. This dress theme saw its first event titled ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’ on the 13th September 2021. The second event affiliated to the American Independence dress code, titled ‘In America: An Anthology of Fashion’, is scheduled for the 5th May 2022.

Are the Met Gala dresses costly?

Met gala dresses prices range. According to a report by Business Insider, you could pay anything from $4,495 to $35,610 for a designer dress.

Which is the best iconic Met Gala dress?

Some of the most legendary met gala dresses are the ones worn by Princess Diana, who essentially stole the limelight at this event in 1996. It was however, the only met gala she attended and she wore a Dior creation. This classic gown, was a blue lingerie type gown that set a precedent for a fresh liberated type of aesthetic. The princess looked elegant with her multiple strand pearl choker and its gigantic sapphire and matching sapphire earrings.

What is Met Gala fashion?

Met Gala fashion comprises the creme de la creme of brand fashion. It’s a showcase of the work of the most esteemed and notable fashion houses and designers of all time. Many of the designs are fantastical, as it’s created in line with a Met Gala dress code.

Do celebrities pay for their red carpet dresses?

Some designers lend celebrities dresses for the event. This showcases the designers work. Also, some celebrities are granted free access to the event if they are seated at a table paid for by a specific brand.

When was the first Met Gala?

The first met gala commenced in 1948 as a fundraiser. However, the first showy themed event, packed with glamorous celebrities, was held in 1971. The theme was titled ‘Fashion Plate’.


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