A decade of decadence: The best and memorable looks of the Met Gala

by Jade Rhode


I’m sure that many of us look forward to the Met Gala every year, to see our favourite celebs decked out in the best of the best! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, 2020 saw the cancellation of the “Party of the Year”. However, it seems that we’ll be in for a bit of a treat this year.


Source: Getty Images. Celebs shown in their memorable outfits of the Met Gala over the years.

The event, formerly known as the Costume Institute Gala or Met Ball, is widely known for presenting the most extravagant fashion worn by celebs. Attendees should be able to afford the reported $30 000 ticket (roughly half a million Rand!) and pass Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s approval to set foot at the opulent event (that usually takes place on the first Monday of May).


Started by theatre producer Irene Lewisohn and stage designer Aline Bernstein in the 1920s in New York, the Met Gala came into fruition to produce a collection of costumes as a source of inspiration for theatre designers in the jazz scene. In 1946, as the collection grew, it was stored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and known as the Costume Institute. The message behind the clothes was to show that these garments possess beauty. Since the '70s, the museum has become the venue for fundraising events.


The theme for 2020 would have been About Time: Fashion and Duration, showing the history of fashion from 1870 to now. Anna Wintour, who has chaired the event since 1995, would have been co-chaired by Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Nicolas Ghesquière, who is creative director of Louis Vuitton’s women’s section.


This year, there will be a two-part exhibition on American fashion and how it has changed since 1998’s “American Ingenuity”. The first exhibition themed “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” will open on 18 September 2021. It will remain on display until the second exhibition “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” opens on 5 May 2022. Both shows will run through 5 September 2022.

Now let's look back on the past decade’s most memorable designs!


2010 – American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity


This theme, as described by the Metropolitan Museum, “explore[d] the developing perception of the modern woman from 1890 to 1940 and how they have affected the way American women are seen today.”


Source: Vogue UK. Oscar-winning French actress and environmentalist Marion Cotillard glittering in a stunning design by Christian Dior.

2011 – Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty


This theme can be seen as a nod to British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who passed away a year before the 2011 Met Gala. The exhibition featured pieces from McQueen’s archives.


Source: Us Weekly. Although the theme was dedicated to Alexander McQueen, singer and actress Beyonce rocked this black and gold dress by Emilio Pucci with a very tiny Blue Ivy in her belly.

2012 – Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations


This theme looks at the orchestrated conversations between two iconic Italian designers from different eras: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada.


Source: Business Insider. Actress and model January Jones (who starred in the series Mad Men) wore a stunning yellow Atelier Versace Spring 2012 gown at the event.

2013 – Punk: Chaos to Couture


The 2013 theme looks at how punk influences fashion today since its birth in the 1970s.


Source: Elle Magazine. Singer and actress Miley Cyrus said goodbye to her Disney look and said hello to her punk inspired Marc Jacobs mesh dress. She also sported spiky hair, a true punk hairstyle.

2014 – Charles James: Beyond Fashion


The name Charles James may not ring a bell to many, but it certainly sets off alarms in the fashion industry. Charles James, who was born in the United Kingdom, was known for his ballgowns and sculpting fabric into unique designs.


Source: Vogue. Actress and designer Sarah Jessica Parker looked like a true princess in this Oscar de la Renta black and white inspired ballgown, complete with white opera gloves.

2015 – China: Through the Looking Glass


The Chinese-inspired theme celebrates the influence the country has on Western fashion. Vogue mentions that this exhibition was a joint effort between the head of the museum’s Department of Asian Art and the Costume Institute.


Source: Hollywood Life. How can we forget this memorable yellow dress worn be singer and businesswoman Rihanna! This robe created by Chinese designer Guo Pei was the inspiration behind many memes!

2016 – Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology


The event went back to the future, looking at the contrast between handmade and machine-made fashion.


Source: Vogue. Model Gigi Hadid and singer Zayn Malik stuck to the theme by incorporating some armour into their looks. Gigi was dressed by Tommy Hilfiger while Zayn wore a Versace suit and Jimmy Choo shoes.

2017 – Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between


The Met Gala looked at the work of fashion designer Rei Kawakubo who is known for her avant-garde designs. The exhibition also looked at some of Kawakubo’s womenswear pieces for Comme des Garçons (her fashion label), dating from the 1980s to her most recent collections.


Source: Vanity Fair. Rihanna is on the list once again. In 2017, the fashion icon stole the show by rocking this Comme des Garçons avant-garde piece. When it comes to fashion, Riri can do no wrong!

2018 – Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination


The theme paired Catholicism with fashion. There were many holy items on display at the 2018 Met Gala, which included artifacts and objects sent to the museum from the Vatican. It is said that most of these artifacts had never seen the light beyond Rome.


Source: Vanity Fair. Although there were amazing dresses being shown on the red carpet, we have to shine a light on rap trio Migos. Take-Off, Quavo and Offset were dripping in Versace (and of course, jewels!) at the annual event. Quavo of course wore and displayed his famous “HUNCHO” rings.

2019 – Camp: Notes of Fashion


2019 saw many celebs go camp with their fashion. In 1964, Susan Sontag, an American writer, filmmaker and political activist defined “camp” as an aesthetic “sensibility” that is plain to see but hard to explain. She also wrote that the style has an intentional “over-the-top-ness.” Many celebs celebrated the theme that night, but one celeb in particular stole the show!


Source: Vanity Fair.

Lady Gaga, who was the co-chair for the event that year, not only served one look, not two looks, but four looks on the carpet! The singer and actress donned fuchsia and black camp looks designed by Brandon Maxwell, who assisted her with her outfit changes. Click here to watch Liza Koshy narrate her entrance.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All