The best ever Met Gala looks, from Princess Diana to Rihanna

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 (Invision)
(Invision)

The First Monday in May is fast approaching, and that means one thing. The Met Gala is mere days away.

Also known as the Costume Institute Benefit, the charity event is held in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to support their costume department. Each year, it coincides with the opening of the new spring fashion exhibition – this year’s being In America: An Anthology of Fashion– and these dictate the dress code.

Anna Wintour, 2019 (AFP via Getty Images)
Anna Wintour, 2019 (AFP via Getty Images)

It began as a high society dinner in 1948, before former US Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland blasted into the celebrity sphere when she joined the board in 1972. Anna Wintour, Vogue’s current Editor-in-Chief, took the reins in 1995 and secured its place as the fashion industry’s Oscars – and this winding history means there have been thousands of looks worth remembering.

In 1996, Princess Diana arrived in a midnight blue, satin slip dress by John Galliano for Dior – then scandalous for an ex-Royal – and set the night up to be the newsworthy explosion of high fashion it remains today.

Princess Diana, 1996 (Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)
Princess Diana, 1996 (Patrick McMullan via Getty Image)

1999 was infamously the year Stella McCartney (daughter of Beatle Paul McCartney) arrived arm in arm with Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler), and the pair wore matching asymmetric t-shirts, appropriately reading Rock Royalty.

Alexander McQueen and Sarah Jessica Parker, 2006 (Getty Images)
Alexander McQueen and Sarah Jessica Parker, 2006 (Getty Images)

Sarah Jessica Parker, a New Yorker and long-time Met enthusiast, had her greatest look made by the late Alexander McQueen for the 2006 ball, when the theme was ‘Anglomania’. The pair entered hand in hand, wearing swathes of matching tartan print; him in a kilt, her in a sliced open tulle frock.

Rihanna, 2015 (AFP/Getty Images)
Rihanna, 2015 (AFP/Getty Images)

In 2011, the exhibition Savage Beauty exhibit was devoted to McQueen, despite facing criticism for its proximity to his suicide in 2010. Many guests took the chance to put his designs in motion that night, including SJP, Naomi Campbell and Coco Rocha.

In 2015, Rihanna made a clear bid to steal the show when she appeared in a three-metre-long train, 25 kilogram heavy, golden embroidered gown by Chinese designer Guo Pei. It was for the China: Through the Looking Glass exhibition, and having taken 6000 hours to make, was nothing less than show stopping.

Chadwick Boseman, 2018 (Getty Images)
Chadwick Boseman, 2018 (Getty Images)

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, in 2018, saw many take the theme to new levels, going all out with the religious imagery. We are talking Katy Perry in huge Versace angel wings, Rihanna in a pearl encrusted Pope look by John Galliano for Margiela, and the late Chadwick Boseman, in a white suit and cape with gold embellishments, also by Versace.

Katy Perry , 2019 (Getty Images)
Katy Perry , 2019 (Getty Images)

Camp was the word in 2019, and as red carpet’s go, the Met is about as camp as it gets anyway – so attendees had to think big to stand out. And that they did. Lady Gaga treated watchers on to four individual looks, designed by Brandon Maxwell, Jared Leto carried a life-like wax replica of his own severed head, and Katy Perry was a, well, chandelier.

Kim Kardashian, 2021 (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian, 2021 (Getty Images)

Then, after a sticky 2020 (thank you, pandemic), it was back to action on a posponed September date for 2021’s Gala. It was defined by Kim Kardashian in a face covering t-shirt by Balenciaga, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky arriving is sculptural duvet looks, and Iman in a gilded gold look by Harris Reed.

So if the years have proven anything, it is that it is impossible to guess who will turn up – or what jaw-dropping frock they have picked out to wear.

Scroll through the gallery above to see the best Met Gala fashion moments of all time.

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