Relive some of the best fashion moments of the decade.
Words by Megan C. Hills and Sunil Makan
The Met Gala is one of the most anticipated events in any celebrity’s calendar and one of the biggest nights out for fashion. While we’ve got a soft spot for the gorgeous, floaty pieces amongst the best Oscar dresses ever, the Met Gala is a time for stars – and their stylists – to really flex their sartorial muscles and take a plunge.
Overseen by fashion powerhouse Anna Wintour and with a notoriously difficult to get onto guest list, it’s the most glamorous fundraiser of the year with proceeds going towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. (Hence the name: Met Gala.) Every year, there’s a different theme and it’s always fascinating to see who really hit the nail on the head and who flopped miserably. We’ve put together an edit of our favourites of all time below.
This year’s Met Gala theme has just been announced and it’s a minefield. It’s called Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination and unsurprisingly, it’s been viewed as super controversial. Although religious iconography has previously featured in designer collections by powerhouses like Dolce & Gabbana, celebrities and their stylists are going to be under immense pressure to figure out the perfect way to push style boundaries – without pushing too hard.
Theme: Rei Kawakubo
Last year’s theme honoured one of the most exciting designers of the decade: Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. Renowned for her sculptural and avant-garde approach to fashion, things got delightfully weird and we were here for it. Standouts included Katy Perry’s swooping red tulle gown, Blake Lively’s feathered Versace and Priyanka Chopra’s beefed up trench coat (all featured below in our gallery, don’t worry). However there was one undisputed style queen that night…
Dressed in a ruffled piece designed by the honouree’s own brand Comme des Garçons and a pair of Dsquared2 lace up heels, Rihanna was basically a walking art installation last year.
Theme: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
Things got technical this year, as the theme for the Met Gala was Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. A lot of celebrities took things to a futuristic level, with Emma Watson wearing a dress made entirely out of plastic bottles and Kate Hudson’s sculptural gown setting her up as a kind of robotic angel. Katy Perry again drew attention with her sweeping Prada gown, while Taylor Swift’s newly debuted platinum locks had tongues wagging. As for our favourite…
Met Gala Claire Danes
Claire Danes stole the show in this gorgeous dress by Zac Posen (who, hey, you can spot on the right watching on proudly). While the silhouette of the dress was utterly romantic and completely spot on for the Stardust actress, the real innovation behind this dress was the fact that it glowed in the dark. Seriously.
Theme: China: Through the Looking Glass
This year’s theme centred around China and – uh – it got controversial. It’s no secret that fashion’s been prone to orientalism and toeing the line between appropriation and honouring a culture’s tradition is a very slim one. Many stars went straight to the source and commissioned Chinese designers for their looks, while others opted for thoughtful details like Mandarin collars and embroidered silk. Others stayed completely away and did their own thing…and then there was Sarah Jessica Parker’s headpiece. Still torn on that one.
Met Gala Rihanna (again)
Don’t @ us, she deserves the title. Rihanna stepped out in a sweeping Guo Pei gown, who’s one of our favourite modern Chinese designers today. We’d go as far as to say that this was the look that cemented Rihanna as a style darling and it was accessorised perfectly with a bronze hairpiece, the perfect hairstyling and a gorgeous rosy-cheeked beauty look we’re still trying to imitate. Unsurprisingly, the dress weighed a ton though and she had a posse help her carry it around and up the stairs all night.
Read on for more of our favourite looks below.
The theme for the 2003 Met Ball was Goddess: the Classical Mode in celebration of the exhibition of the same name at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Model Carmen Kass dazzled the crowds as she made her way to the glitzy party in a stunning long-sleeved red gown with a flowing train and cut-out panels at the back.
Kate Hudson, meanwhile, opted for a light and ethereal look in a gorgeous white halter neck dress, which she teamed with a mini silver clutch and her hair worn in corkscrew curls.
Charlize Theron shunned the typical statement gowns for a bolder fashion choice at the Goddess-themed party. The Oscar-winning actress stepped out in an unusual black printed coat dress, which she teamed with criss-cross strap heels and a black envelope clutch.
Nicole Kidman dazzled onlookers looking every inch the themed Goddess, wearing a sheer asymmetric Gucci gown with lashings of shimmer and sparkle. Gorgeous.
No Met Ball line-up would be complete without an appearance from Gisele. The supermodel flaunted her a-may-zing curves in an embroidered Dolce & Gabbana dress worn with a matching fringed shawl.
Not one to be outdone in the supermodel style stakes, Karoline Kurkova went for classic ladylike elegance in a simple black floor-length gown. A black clutch, silver drop earrings and a flash of red lipstick completed her look.
Scarlett Johansson made her Met Ball debut in 2004 and cemented her fashion darling status wearing this pearl yellow gown by Calvin Klein to the glitzy fashion bash.
Dita Von Teese also set the flashbulbs popping in a dramatically good look at the 2004 gala. From the flowing train and cheeky peek-a-boo panels to the retro hair and make-up, we love everything about this outfit.
Natalie Portman made a rare appearance on the Costume Institute Gala red carpet in 2004, wearing a tribal-inspired dark green halter neck gown with gold detailing and a sexy rising hem at the front.
Rock progeny Jade Jagger added a splash of colour to proceedings in a striking tomato red gown with spaghetti straps.
Renee Zellweger channelled the old school Hollywood look with her Met Ball styling in 2004. Her strapless gold dress created a stunning hourglass silhouette, while her chic clutch, jewellery and glossy hair compliment it perfectly.
Mandy Moore was ahead of the fashion pack by wearing a simple but glamorous gown by New York design hot-shots Proenza Schouler in 2004 ? way before they started creating a fashion buzz.
Vanessa Paradis made her one and only Met Ball appearance at the 2005 gala, but with a look like this, it only makes us wish she attended more. The Chanel muse chose a signature monochrome ensemble by the French fashion house, which she teamed with her trademark bohemian accessories.
Ice cool blonde Naomi Watts chose a suitably pale and interesting look for the Met Ball 2005 in this ruffled asymmetric dreamy design.
Back in 2005 actress Jennifer Connelly was the poster girl for high fashion brand Balenciaga. So, naturally, she chose a design from the luxe label ? a short feathered cocktail dress ? for her Met Ball look.
One of the hottest properties on TV in 2005, Jessica Simpson cut a stylish figure on the Met Ball red carpet in a floral print strapless gown with pops of gorgeous red.
Emmy Rossum donned her red carpet best in a sparkly silver column dress for her Costume Institute Gala debut seven years ago.
The Costume Institute Gala 2006 celebrated the opening of the Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sarah Jessica Parker chose a UK designer, natch, for her red carpet look, wearing a strapless gown with layers of tulle and tartan by Alexander McQueen.
Kate Moss went for an edgy look at the gala in black leather skinny trousers, a black blazer and patent Christian Louboutin courts that only she could pull off at such a dress-heavy event.
Sienna Miller, co-host for the night alongside Burberry designer Christopher Bailey, wore a gold sequinned minidress by the label for the night’s festivities. She accessorised with black tights, heels and a matching bag.
Scarlett Johansson, meanwhile, went for high-octane cocktail glamour in a midnight blue sequinned dress teamed with black accessories.
Drew Barrymore made a rare appearance at the Met Ball on the 2006 red carpet wearing a lace strapless dress by Oscar de la Renta, worn with black strappy heels, a metallic clutch and a beaming smile.
Jessica Alba created a stunning silhouette in a silver strapless gown by Calvin Klein Collection.
Never one to follow the fashion pack when it comes to style, Chloe Sevigny went for a girly ensemble at the gala, wearing a monochrome YSL cocktail dress, black T-bar heels and a matching clutch. (2006)
Jennifer Lopez was another sartorial hit on the 2006 Met Ball red carpet. J-Lo showed off those killer curves in an asymmetric Versace gown in the palest of pale lilac hues.
Ciara also opted for a pale shade in an ice cool pink dress with sparkling embroidered detailing.
Thandie Newton sauntered along the Met Ball red carpet in a dazzling gold Gucci dress with a cowl neck at the front. One word: stunning.
In a sea of pale shades and metallics, Gisele added a splash of colour to the 2006 proceedings in a fuchsia Christian Dior gown with embroidered detailing.
Lindsay Lohan went all demure on us at the fashion bash wearing a strapless Marchesa gown with sheer tulle layers and a black waistband cinching in that waist.
Cameron Diaz always looks fab in bright colours and her look at the 2007 Costume Institute Gala was no exception. The actress dazzled onlookers in this fuchsia pink number adding a welcome flash of colour to the evening’s event.
Never one to put a style foot wrong, we love Kate Moss’s black, slightly gothic gown ? from her own Kate Moss for Topshop collection that she wore to the 2007 gala. The drop earrings are the perfect jewellery accompaniment.
Scarlett Johansson bucked the trend of the evening and went for super-short rather than super-long in a cute strapless minidress.
The Olsen twins are known for their bold fashion choices, and Mary-Kate continued the trend with her gothic feathered frock at 2007’s Met Ball.
The ceremony also saw Lindsay Lohan do proper Hollywood glamour in this black Bally gown. Gorgeous.
Christina Ricci showed off her tiny frame in a strapless pink and red Givenchy dress with a scarlet waist belt and sweetheart neckline Wonder Woman-esque bodysuit, which perfectly summed up the 2008 Costume Institute Gala’s theme – Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy.
Model Gisele looked impossibly glossy at the Met Ball 2008. Gisele showcased her perfect figure in a slinky satin backless dress by Versace.
Jennifer Lopez went for a super-glossy look in 2008 too, in a slinky silver gown teamed with a matching clutch and retro old school curls in her hair.
Fashionista Kate Boworth made a daring choice at the gala four years ago in a multi-coloured vintage Chanel number. She teamed her beautifully textured dress with brightly-hued metallic heels.
Naomi Watts looked very Marilyn Monroe at the same bash in a white halterneck pleated gown by Thierry Mugler and set curled hair with bright red lipstick.
Kate Moss accompanied Stella McCartney to the 2008 do, and Kate looked stunning in a scoop-necked, mushroom-coloured dress by the designer, which was beautifully enhanced with a shiny silver waist belt.
Supermodel Amber Valletta enjoyed her golden moment in a glamorous lamé Versace gown with ruffled shoulder detailing.
Claudia Schiffer rarely puts a fashion foot wrong and she shone, as usual, in a one-shouldered, ruffled gown by the maestro of sexy, feminine dressing – Valentino.
Eva Longoria Parker wowed the crowds in a high-impact maroon ruffled dress by Marchesa as she walked the red carpet at the Costume Institute Gala 2008.
Diane Kruger simply shone at the fashion do in a stunning silver minidress by Alberta Ferretti that showed off her fabulous pins.
Glamorous twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen both wore custom-made Diane Von Furstenberg to the 2008 Met Ball. Mary-Kate chose a long-sleeved metallic gold gown with a sexy split, while Ashley sported a slinky black LBD with cut-out detailing.
Singer Jack White and model Karen Elson showed off their matching milk-white complexions at the party. Karen offset her pale skin with a ruby-red one-shouldered dress.
Beyonce kept things classic, and slightly bridal, in a beautiful ruffled silk organza gown by Giorgio Armani Prive.
David and Victoria Beckham certainly made a statement at their first Costume Institute Gala appearance as a couple. David was dapper in an Armani made-to-measure tux with velvet lapels, while Victoria went ’80s in a vintage Armani beaded dressing coat.
Fashion’s finest hit the red carpet in style for the 2009 Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of the Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion exhibition. Co-host of the evening, Kate Moss, was the night’s star attraction wowing in a gold lamé dress by her designer plus one, Marc Jacobs. She accessorised with a matching pair of YSL Tribute 2 pumps and a turban by British millinery star Stephen Jones.
Another Marc Jacobs muse, Victoria Beckham also wore a dress by the designer ? a custom-made polka dot number with a flowing train at the back, which she accessorised with black heels and a Chopard ruby ring.
Kate Bosworth channelled old school Hollywood glamour in a black long-sleeved Stella McCartney gown with sexy sheer lace panels, which she wore with 1940s-inspired waves in her hair and a flash of classic red lipstick.
Jessica Biel made a jaw-droppingly stunning turn on the 2009 Met Ball red carpet, wearing a fiery red gown by Atelier Versace.
Does she ever put a foot wrong? Diane Kruger was another sartorial highlight at the Costume Institute Gala wowing in a white floral applique dress by Chanel teamed with contrasting black accessories.
Claudia Schiffer opted for a black fan-detailed Versace Atelier gown and clutch as she hit the red carpet in style at the 2009 Met Ball.
French acting star Marion Cotillard made her Costume Institute Gala debut in a pale pink strapless Dior dress that showed off her figure to perfection.
Leighton Meester shunned the typical red carpet looks and wore an unusual Louis Vuitton printed dress with matching leggings and doll-like hair at the 2009 gala.
Miranda Kerr flaunted her model credentials in a black fringed dress with risque cut out panels from Jil Sander’s spring/summer collection.
Eva Mendes added a jolt of shimmer and shine to proceedings at the fashion party in a metallic Calvin Klein Collection gown.
For the 2009 gala party, Stella McCartney stuck to one of her own creations ? a black lace jumpsuit.
Kate Hudson also wore Stella McCartney, choosing a sparkling gold backless dress by the British designer.
Liv Tyler wore Stella too, in a twinkling dark blue design for the 2009 party.
Stunner Gisele worked spring/summer 2009’s blue trend in a dazzling custom-made Versace mini dress with lashings of sparkle.
Mad Men star January Jones also opted for the season’s metallic trend at the Costume Institute Gala in a gold long-sleeved minidress.
Ashley Olsen dressed her diminutive frame in an all-white gown from her own label, The Row, for the Met Ball red carpet.
Claire Danes kept things elegant and classic at the 2009 bash in an asymmetric silver gown by Armani Privé accessorised with Tiffany jewels aplenty.
Having recently been bestowed with a designer role at Halston Heritage, Sarah Jessica Parker was representing her new brand team in style at the 2010 Met Ball, arriving in this heavenly high-shine pleated gown, with a matching champagne-hued corsage adorning her hair. Carrie Bradshaw would be proud.
Burberry poster girl Emma Watson showed off one of her most gown-up and glam red carpet looks to date at the 2010 bash in an asymmetric white gown, custom-made for her by Christopher Bailey himself. Suddenly Hogwarts and Hermione seem all but a distant memory.
Diane Kruger epitomised the mantra that sometimes less is more in an elegant white Calvin Klein Collection column dress.
Ah, Camilla Belle. Fast becoming one of our biggest girl crushes, Camilla was positively ravishing in red for the Costume Insitute Gala two years ago ? courtesy of man-of-the-moment Jason Wu. Co-ordinating ruby clutch and dazzling droplet earrings completed the crowd-wowing look.
While everyone was talking about Jude and Sienna’s first public outing as a reunited couple in 2010, it was actually Miss Miller’s dress which caught our attention. Sienna was simply smouldering in this plunging Emilio Pucci autumn/winter 2010 frock, teamed with chunky multi-strap heels and a sprinkling of Solange Azagury-Partridge jewellery.
Jessica Biel opted for old school elegance at the 2010 gala in a Ralph Lauren Collection champagne gown, which showed off her fab figure to perfection.
Kate Bosworth wowed in a nude Valentino Couture gown, which was covered in an intricate coral-coloured spider web pattern. Ultra-elegant Marcel wave curls, a champagne clutch and sparkling Van Cleef & Arpels jewels provided the finishing accoutrements.
Now we could all pretend to be fixated on Blake Lively’s asymmetric petrol blue Marchesa dress, but who’s looking at her frock when those a-may-zing pins are on show? The Gossip Girl wowed the crowds at the Costume Institute Gala in 2010 in the miniscule frock, and wisely wore her hair high and back, to let her dress, and those never-ending legs, remain the focus.
The perennial pairing of Marion Cotillard and Christian Dior showed no sign of ending at the Met Ball two years ago, with the actress stepping out in one of the fashion house?s most dazzling couture creations.
Always one to try and stand apart from the crowd, Alexa Chung decided to eschew a frock entirely for the evening in 2010, and instead opted for a fashion-forward androgynous look in this 3.1 Phillip Lim trouser suit.
Undeniably glamorous, Gwen was the belle of the ball in a vintage-inspired dress from her very own L.A.M.B collection, which she accessorised with her signature ruby red lip. Gorgeous!
Rachel Weisz jumped on spring/summer 2010’s trend for thinking pink, adding a bright pop of colour to the evening’s proceedings in a fuchsia Oscar de la Renta gown. Simple, tumbling tresses, a gold cuff and a raspberry Roger Vivier clutch provided the perfect finishing touches.
Zac Posen decided to showcase one of his most dramatic creations when he dressed model Doutzen Kroes for the 2010 do. The Victoria’s Secret Angel donned this theatrical powder blue ballgown, with a sweeping tulle train so large it practically covered the entire red carpet as she walked down it.
Well, hello Kate Hudson! The beaming actress played up to the cameras, as she worked the thigh-high split in her nude Stella McCartney gown at the 2012 Met Ball.
There was a sprinkling of bright berry hues on the Met Gala 2010 carpet, including Naomi Watts in this gorgeous magenta Stella McCartney gown, with fan-pleated sleeve. The actress teamed her dress with a matching berry lip and a softly swept updo.
There were no end of dramatic couture creations sweeping down the red carpet at the Costume Institute Gala, but one of the most awe-inspiring had to be Jennifer Lopez’s Zuhair Murad spring 2010 gown. Every inch the scene-stealer, La Lopez upped the glamour factor with her high-octane dress, and completed her look with a chic chignon and smouldering, smoky eyes.
Rachel Bilson was another starlet to walk the 2010 red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and did so in this fit ‘n’ flare Louis Vuitton dress, teamed with co-ordinating black accessories, and side-swept curls.
Jessica Alba shocked everyone at the 2010 gala by choosing high street for her look. The one-off design was from Gap, created in collaboration with designer Sophie Theallett. The blush pink gown was subsequently auctioned off for charity, alongside other Gap gowns.
Kirsten Dunst also wore high street, hitting the Costume Insitute Gala red carpet in another of the Gap charity designs, this time an ethereal draped creation by Rodarte, paired with nothing but a pair of Rodarte heels.
Representing British style, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did us proud, positively glowing in a Burberry cascading nude gown. Gorgeous!
One of the MC desk’s all-time favourite fashionistas, Diane Kruger didn’t fail to get our style pulses racing at the 2011 Costume Institute Gala celebrating the late great Alexander McQueen. The starlet sizzled in a sexy Jason Wu dress with a thigh-high slit. Oozing Hollywood glamour, she completed her look with glossy curled locks and a pop of red lipstick.
Kristen Stewart made her second Met Ball appearance at last year’s ceremony wearing a sleek Proenza Schouler custom-made gown, teamed with strappy black sandals and Fred Leighton gems.
McQueen would have been proud! Gisele plucked a jaw-dropping red gown from the designer’s vast archive to pay tribute in serious style.
Wearing a glittering gown by her fashion BFF Stella McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow ensured she turned heads on the 2011 Met red carpet, turning to reveal a seriously daring slit, showing off those enviably picture-perfect pins in the process.
Flying the flag for Brit style, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley sizzled in a navel-grazing raspberry gown by Burberry for her 2011 Met Ball look. Stunning.
Michelle Williams took a fashion flight of fancy at last year’s star-studded bash in her bird-adorned custom-made Miu Miu gown.
Emma Stone continued her run of winning style moments at the 2011 do in a floral print Lanvin gown accessorised with statement earrings and a hot pink pout. We officially had a new sartorial crush on our hands…
Beyonce made one of her rare red carpet appearances at the McQueen honoured Met Ball. For her styling she chose a dramatic Emilio Pucci fishtail dress that made a serious sartorial impact.
An angelic Florence Welch swept into the 2011 gala wearing an ethereal YSL white sleeved gown. Beautiful.
New mum Penelope Cruz took a night off from baby duty at last year’s gala to turn heads on the red carpet in a sweeping Oscar de la Renta gown.
Feather detailing was one of last year’s reigning trends and Liv Tyler flew away with the title of feathered best dressed in her ombré Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci gown.
Glee star Lea Michele made like Gisele at last year’s Costume Institute Gala and also wore red in a strapless Escada gown. Sleek locks added a glam edge.
Jennifer Lopez smouldered for the cameras last year in a vivid fuchsia Gucci gown with a feathered bolero. The starlet accessorised with a whopping $500,000 worth of H. Stern diamonds. (2011)
Like her twin sister Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen also went vintage for the 2011 Costume Institute Gala, choosing a Dior Couture number with statement puff sleeves.
It was no surprise to clock Blake Lively in Chanel Couture at the Met Ball ? the Gossip Girl was designer Karl Lagerfeld’s latest muse, starring in her first campaign for the design house that season. She added Lorraine Schwartz gems and Christian Louboutin heels to complete her scene-stealing look.
Ever the iconic dresser, Sarah Jessica Parker dressed in a Valentino pink and white high neck floral gown. The 2012 Met Gala theme paid tribute to Elsa Schiaparelli on Miuccia Prada.
Dakota Fanning emerged a woman at the 2013 Met Gala, arriving in a lilac full gown by Louis Vuitton. She carried an elegant box clutch as the paps looked on to catch a snap of the former child star.
Roony Mara opted for a parred down take on the 2013 Met Ball Gothic theme. She chose an all-white Givency gown, complete with edgy zips. She matched her top-to-toe ensemble with silk-finish sandals and then a deep red lip that went on to set the trend for AW14.
Blake Lively took the gothic theme to all new heights with a black lace gown an oversized train. With all the detail in the skirt, she kept her neckline clean and cut straight straight across with an elegant up-do to set it all off.
Blake Lively’s stepped out in some stunning Met Ball dresses in her time (who could forget that beautiful blue Chanel?), but her shimmering golden Gucci gown has to be one of our favourites. The actress accessorised the sequinned number with Louboutin Body Strass shoes, tumbling blonde Old Hollywood-style locks, ruby jewels, and a dazzling smile.
Emma Stone put her fashion foot forward in a pink Thakoon two-piece and silver Miu Miu shoes at the Met Ball 2014. The Spider-Man starlet, who has been getting her styling spot on in recent weeks, added a loose side plait and metallic make-up, and arrived on the arm of British actor beau Andrew Garfield.
Victoria Beckham pulled out all the stops for her Met Ball 2014 red carpet appearance, in a slinky white dress of her own design. VB accessorised the strapless gown, which featured her trademark full-length zip, with diamond Jacob & Co. earrings and a bracelet, Casadei ivory suede pumps with the signature Blade heel, and a sweeping side ‘do.
Diane Kruger stood out in a sea of ball gowns in a spectacular embroidered Chanel two-piece at the Met Gala in 2015. The actress completed her look – a nod to this year’s China: Through the Looking Glass theme – with oodles of Fred Leighton jewels and a floral hair accessory.
It was the dress that both shocked and delighted the world. Beyonce worked her thing in a sheer Givenchy dress and had heads turning everywhere she went.
Emma Watson stepped out in favour of eco-fashion this year with a Calvin Klein x Eco Age dress made entirely out of recycled bottles. (Plus, the train came off to reveal a pretty dapper pantsuit.)
Kate Hudson went full on futuristic avenging angel in this piece by Versace.
Katy Perry found her inner goth in this Prada gown, which she paired with a very Girl with a Dragon Tattoo beauty look.
Solange has always been one to break the mould and she did it in style this year in a pleated David Leport piece.
While Selena may have hit the headlines for stepping out with her former beau The Weeknd for the first time, this delicate Coach dress was what we really found fameworthy.
This asymmetric Tommy Hilfiger dress combined two distinct styles, a floaty tulle gown and a structured mini.
Katy, who was one of the co-hosts this year, showed up in a dramatic custom Maison Margiela Artisanal dress.