From the early 2000s to now: How the fashion choices at the Met Gala changed through the years


By Stephanie Boey

From the early 2000s to now: How the fashion choices at the Met Gala changed through the years

The first Monday of May is set in stone as one of fashion’s biggest dates. It celebrates the opening of the annual exhibit by The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with a fund raising gala meant to encourage patrons to donate in support of the arts. The first gala was held in 1948 for the then newly-found institute and it’s reported the dinner tickets were priced at US$50 each!

Since the ‘70s, the Met Gala has been organised by Vogue U.S, and remains a longstanding tradition until today. Currently lead by one of the fashion industry’s most influential editors Anna Wintour and with the exciting choice of theme every year, the Met Gala has witnessed many iconic looks over the years.

What would’ve been this year’s 2020 Met Gala was ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Met Gala has been postponed indefinitely. (A bunch of hardcore fashion fans are organising an unofficial online Met Gala on Twitter. More on this here). You’ll be surprised to know that what may seem like an unprecedented event in Met Gala history has indeed happened prior. In the past 20 years, there were two years in the early 2000s (2000 and 2002) that had the Met Gala off the roster.

So what’s a fashion fan to do in the absence of the Met Gala this year? Answer: Dive into the archives. Some of the most interesting themes through the years include 2004’s ‘Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century’, 2006’s’ AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion’ and 2008’s ‘Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy’. In recent years, ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’ in 2013, 2015’s ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ and 2016’s ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology‘.

When it comes to fashionable attendees, Rihanna wins the game. She has consistently brought statement-worthy and head-turning looks to the red carpet since her first appearance in 2007. She may not attend the gala every year but trust that she does shut it down when she chooses to grace the red carpet with her presence. Her most recent appearance was at the 2018 Met Gala for ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’. Dressed as a pope in a exquisite jewel-encrusted bodice and coat by Maison Margiela, Rihanna looked like she fell straight from heaven. Don’t even get me started on the Guo Pei dress from 2015! That canary yellow gown single-handedly paved the way for fashion memes.

Being best-dressed at the Met Gala includes perfecting the fine balance of being elegant, while pushing the envelope and keeping to the theme. The best looks through the years are head-turning but rightfully so. Warranted attention, but not too much. There’s a strong yet quiet confidence that comes along with a great red carpet look, it’s about stealing the limelight for all the right reasons. Here are the costumes and themes that hit the nail right on the head:

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