Met Gala fashion 1973 to now: The most iconic outfits including Rihanna, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Zendaya

Met Gala fashion 1973 to now: The most iconic outfits including Rihanna, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Zendaya

The Met Gala is undoubtedly the most exciting night on the fashion calendar. The benefit began back in 1948 to raise money for the new Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with New York’s art and fashion elite in attendance. The Gala has changed over the years. The event was the place to see up-and-coming actresses, models, and artists. In the 80s, it was the muses for the most popular designers. The 2000s brought us to the Super Bowl of celebrities faces. In the 2010s and 2020s, people have taken the themes very seriously indeed. Designers often create custom pieces that can be worn one night only.

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As a result, there have been a lot of iconic looks in the Met Gala’s history. From Cher in a Bob Mckie ‘naked dress’Naomi Campbell in a glittering silver Fendi by Kim Jones, a newcomer to the scene; to Zendaya as a Versace-fied Joan of Arc; and to the many, many stunning outfits wore by Rihanna. These are the most stunning Met Gala looks, from 1973 to today.

Diana Vreeland ‘The World of Balenciaga’, 1973

After Diana Vreeland, Vogue’s fashion editor, left in 1971 she joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take over its annual gala. Under her leadership the gala became more exciting with a unique theme each year.

Jane Hozier and Halston ‘The 10s, the 20s, the 30s: Inventive Clothes 1909-1939’, 1973

In 1973, there were two Met Galas! Here, model and famed Warhol-actress Jane Hozier arrives at the esteemed event with one of American fashion’s most pioneering designers, Halston.

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Cher for ‘Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design’, 1974

Not only is this Bob Mackie creation adorning Cher one of the most iconic Met Gala looks of all time, it’s also one of the earliest examples of the ‘naked dress’. It was literally a cultural reset.

Larry LeGaspi, Valerie Arnoff ‘American Women of Style’, 1975

Larry LeGaspiAmerican fashion designer. He is often overlooked because of his influence on club style in the 70s/80s. Grace Jones, Kiss, Labelle, and drag queen Divine were all dressed in his Art Deco outfits. Rick Owens, who described the designer as one his greatest influences, dedicated a collection to Larry in 2019 and a book in his honor.

Jackie Kennedy for ‘The Glory of Russian Costume’, 1976

The 1976 Gala theme was unique, and the scope of the collection included over 100 Russian outfits that had never been displayed outside of Soviet Union.

Barbra Walters and Estée Lauder at the met gala 1977

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Barbra Walters and Estée Lauder for ‘Vanity Fair: A Treasure Trove’, 1977

Founder of The View Barbra Walters is wearing a grecian goddess-style Halston dress as she stands with cosmetics guru Estée Lauder in Dior.

Diana Ross for ‘Diaghilev: Costumes and Designs of the Ballets Russes’, 1978

We love this disco look by Diana Ross from The Supremes. It looks like she is drinking at the Met Gala before heading on to Studio 54 for a bigger, better party.

Jacqueline Kennedy ‘Fashions of the Habsburg Era: Austria-Hungary’, 1979

Amazing gowns

Paloma Picasso, Caroline Herrera ‘The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of China, the Chi’ng Dynasty’, 1980

Beautiful gowns

Diana Ross at the met gala 1981

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Diana Ross for ‘The Eighteenth-Century Woman’, 1981

This feathery off the shoulder gown from Diana Ross made jaws drop even before the Met Gala was famous for its OTT looks. The ‘fit was so good, she brought it back in 2014 on the American Music Awards red carpet.

Raquel Welch for ‘La Belle Époque’, 1982

This fitted dress in snakeskin print by Thierry mugler was a stunning look for the iconic 70s actress and sex symbol. Where can I get one?

Paloma Picasso at the met gala 1983

Photo by Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Paloma Picasso, a friend ‘Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design’, 1983

Paloma Picasso is the daughter of the famed cubist artist. She was a well-known designer, creating jewellery and her own line fragrances.


Diana Vreeland & Ralph Lauren ‘Man and the Horse’, 1984

Ralph Lauren was probably a bit miffed after spending $350,000 on the event. “There isn’t a blazer of mine in it,” The New York TimesHe stated that he said the words, adding that he would support any event regardless of his love for horse riding and desire to highlight its fashion.

Cher for ‘Costumes of Royal India’, 1985

Name a more powerful pair than Cher and Bob Mackie. We’ll wait.

Paloma Picasso at the met gala 1986

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Paloma Picasso for ‘Dance’, 1986

“Big skirts are fun but not for the person sitting next to you in a car,” Paloma saidShe wore this stunning Christian LaCroix gown as she walked up to the Met’s steps.

Kim Alexis at the met gala 1987

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Kim Alexis ‘A Tribute to Diana Vreeland’, 1987

Kim Alexis, 80s supermodel, wears a wide-shouldered embellished blouse dress at the 16th Met Gala. The event was dedicated to the woman that transformed the annual benefit into the fashion show of the year.

Zandra Rhodes at the met gala 1988

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Zandra Rhodes for ‘From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837-1877’, 1988

Pink hair, don’t care!

Anna Wintour at the met gala 1989

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Anna Wintour for ‘The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789-1815’, 1989

1989 marked one year since Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief at Vogue. She would become the event’s chairperson 10 years later.

Naomi Campbell for ‘Théȃtre de la Mode – Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture’, 1990

Naomi Campbell, a baby-faced guest of Gianni Versace at the Met Gala. She wore a mini-dress in bold print sequin-embed from his 1991 Spring collection.

Zandra Rhodes at the met gala 1991

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Zandra Rhodes at the Met Gala (no themes), 1991

Even though the theme was not apparent, British fashion and textiles designer Zandra Rhodes wore astrological couture in a rhinestoned midnight-blue gown with star map print and cute dangly Moon earrings.

Christy Turlington at the met gala 1992

Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Christy Turlington ‘Fashion and History: A Dialogue’, 1992

Audrey Hepburn couldn’t.

Gianni Versace and Donatella Versace at the met gala 1993

Gianni Versace and Donatella Versace. Photography Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images.

Donatella Versace and Gianni Versace ‘Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style’, 1993

One of the iconic Italian designer’s most famed creations, the bondage belt dress called “Miss S&M” adorns the body of Gianni’s sister, and future head of Versace, Donatella. Dua Lipa wore an exquisitely adapted version of this dress to the 2022 Grammys.

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Veronica Webb for ‘Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western dress’, 1994

This black latex mini halter dress in latex with ab cutouts, worn by Veronica Webb, 90s actress, still holds up to this day. It’s so cute!

Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the met gala 1995

Photo by Kevin Mazzaur Archive/WireImage

Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss ‘Haute Couture’, 1995

Hang this picture of Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss wearing Kim Jones’ debut Fendi collection in the Louvre.

Princess Diana for ‘Christian Dior’, 1996

Dior’s sexy navy dress featured lace detailing by Dior and was worn by the queen of biker shorts, sweatshirts, and biker shorts.

Salma Hayek for ‘Gianni Versace’, 1997

Salma Hayek, House of Gucci actress in Versace, screaming, crying, and throwing up.

Claudia Schiffer ‘Cubism and Fashion’, 1998

J’adore this y2k moment on model Claudia Schiffer. It’s giving Blumarine. It’s giving 13 Going On 30.

Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney at the met gala 1999

Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Stella McCartney and Liv Tyler ‘Rock Style’, 1999

Yeah we like rock music.
* plays Sour by Olivia Rodrigo *

3lw at the met gala 2001

Photo by George De Sota/Newsmakers via Hulton Archive

3LW ‘Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years’. 2001

Two out of four Cheetah Girls attend the most exclusive fashion party of 2014. We think so. This is Jackie Kennedy’s wish list for the White House years.

Nicole Kidman for ‘Goddess: The Classical Mode’, 2003

Tom Ford was able to understand the task when he created this breathtaking Gucci gown for Nicole Kidman, which she wore as she entered the Met.

Beyoncé for ‘Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century’, 2004

Dangerously in Love, Dangerously in Love, was glowing after the success of her debut solo album. She stepped in this silk, low back halter dress.

Marc Jacobs, Lil Kim ‘The House of Chanel’, 2005

In 2005, Marc Jacobs was a mainstay of Lil Kim’s wardrobe, with the designer even dressing the rapper for all her court appearances.

Alexander McQueen and Sarah Jessica Parker at the Met Gala 2006

Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Alexander McQueen & Sarah Jessica Parker ‘AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion’, 2006

Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City, has been to the Met Gala eleven times. However, this tartan moment, twinning in the late Alexander McQueen’s presence, is undoubtedly the most iconic.

Iman with David Bowie at the Met Gala 2007

Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images via Getty Images North America

Iman with David Bowie ‘Poiret: King of Fashion’, 2007

This three-piece white suit, which Iman wears as a three-piece, is absolutely stunning, right down to the classic cane.

Victoria Beckham and David Beckham ‘Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy’, 2008

It’s Victoria (wearing Giorgio Armani), Malcolm!!

Kate Moss with Marc Jacobs at the Met Gala 2009

Photo by Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Marc Jacobs and Kate Moss ‘The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion’, 2009

Kate Moss will be wearing a stunning celestial look to the Met Gala, which is themed around the power of models. She is the moment. Get on board.

Jennifer Lopez for ‘American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity’, 2010

Jenny from the Block wore this Zuhair Murad Couture dress up!

Dakota Fanning ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’, 2011

One year after Alexander McQueen’s death, the Savage Beauty exhibition at the Met became one of the most popular in the museum’s history. The exhibit was so popular that there were four-hour waits to see the incredible pieces.

Karolina Kurkova for ‘Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations’, 2012

Can you see that this look was created and styled by Rachel Zoe, stylist to Nicole Richie Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, and Rachel Zoe?

Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala 2013

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Kim Kardashian for ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’, 2013

Kim Kardashian was wrapped in a Givenchy dress with a botanical print in high-slit gloves, before Rihanna became an international sensation. We will never forget how North West looked better than anyone else.

Rihanna at the Met Gala 2014

Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage

Rihanna for ‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’, 2014

It’s Rihanna’s world and we’re all just living in it. The star rocked up to the event in a Stella McCartney two-piece that was elegantly simple and yet still caught everyone’s attention.

Rihanna at the Met Gala 2015

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic.

Rihanna for ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’, 2015

This look was the start of a thousand memes. After the minimalism of Riri’s outfit the year prior, the singer and Fenty founder went for grand opulence in a fur-trimmed, off-the-shoulder cape by Guo Pei that was also featured in the exhibit. You can have it all!

Claire Danes for ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology’, 2016

When Claire Danes turned up to the 2016 Met Gala — in a hired out public bus no less — at first, it looked like her stylist didn’t get the tech memo. The elegant Zac Posen gown looked like it was wizzed-up by Cinderella’s fairy godmother (not the one from the deranged 2021 adaptation though) but it wasn’t giving robo-couture like Zayn Malik’s armoured sleeves or Beyoncé’s skin-tight latex. The lights went out and the hand-sewn organza and fibreoptics dress shined in the darkness.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Met Gala 2017

Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images

Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen ‘Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between’, 2017

Fashion designers MK and Ashley stunned in their boho-chic lace gowns with gothic necklaces to match their broody makeup, a fur-trimmed regal jacket and beachy hair that seemed to nod to Rei Kawakubo’s Fall 2005 collection.

Zendaya at the Met Gala 2018

Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Zendaya for ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’, 2018

2018 could be the year that Met Gala history will remember as the year with the most iconic Met Gala looks. Blake Lively in a Versace look; Ariana in the Vera Wang Michelangelo gown. All history-defining. Rihanna was almost awarded the best look crown again due to her stunningly sexy Papal appearance by John Galliano. However, we are all still astonished that she brought the Catholic saint Joan of Arc on the Met Gala carpet in Versace Chainmail. Never was there a more outrageous lie than when the star sang “fashion is my kryptonite”. This was the moment we realized we were in the presence greatness.

Lady Gaga at the Met Gala 2019

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue

Lady Gaga for ‘Camp: Notes on Fashion’, 2019

Lady Gaga looked at Karlie Kloss as she looked camp. Our queen stayed focused on the camp floor for 16 minutes, wearing not one, but two, but three, iconic looks created by Brandon Maxwell.

kim kardashian at the Met Gala 2021.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images at The Met Museum/Vogue

Kim Kardashian for ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’, 2021

We missed the Met Gala 2020 in 2020 so we had high hopes for the Met Gala 2021. However, we were disappointed by a lot of things. ‘meh’Moments and political fashions that didn’t work. Enter a charcoal silhouette, unmistakably Kim Kardashian’s body, clad in Balenciaga from head to toe. This was the most iconic look of night and gave us the fashion excitement that we have been looking for for two years.

Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more iconic fashion.

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