The Met Gala: A visual history of the many, memorable themes


By Stephanie Boey

The Met Gala: A visual history of the many, memorable themes

The first Monday of May is usually met with excitement in the air. It’s the day the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art holds their annual gala night to celebrate their Costume Institute’s yearly exhibit. A quick history lesson: The Met Gala was established in 1948 by the same person who launched New York Fashion Week, fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert in order to raise money for the then newly-founded Costume Institute. Branding it as “party of the year”, it was attended by New York’s finest elite and the creme de la creme of the fashion industry. It’s said that the early days of the Met Gala was held at several of New York’s most character-defining locations, like Central Park, the Waldorf-Astoria and the Rainbow Room.

It wasn’t until the early ’70s when Diana Vreeland of Vogue joined as a special consultant and transformed The Met Gala to what we recognise today. Vreeland’s first moves was to relocate the gala into the museum and to invite co-chairs, which would then influence the theme of the exhibitions. Some of the early co-chairs included fashion brands like Balenciaga and Saint Laurent.

Trust us to dive deep into the archives to hunt for as many throwback themes as we could find, plus the most extravagant outfits The Met Gala has seen. Which is your favourite year?

1973 — The World of Balenciaga

1974 — Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design


1975 — American Women of Style

1976 — The Glory of Russian Costume

Christina Ford and Imelda Marcos

1977 — Vanity Fair: A Treasure Trove

1978 — Diaghilev: Costumes and Designs of the Ballets Russes

1979 — Fashions of the Habsburg Era: Austria-Hungary

Bernard Foucher and Margaux Hemingway

1980 — The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of China, the Chi’ng Dynasty

1981 — The Eighteenth-Century Woman

1982 — La Belle Époque

Raquel Welch

1983 — Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design

1984 — Man and the Horse

1985 — Costumes of Royal India

Bob Mackie and Cher

1986 — Dance

Linda Carter and Blaine Trump

1987 — In Style: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Costume Institute

1988 — From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress

Diane von Furstenberg

1989 – The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire

1990 — Théâtre de la Mode–Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture

1992 — Fashion and History: A Dialogue

1993 — Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Stylepr

1994 — Orientalism: Visions of the East in western dress

1995 — Haute Couture

1996 — Christian Dior

1997 — Gianni Versace

1998 — Cubism and Fashion

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