Met Gala is one of the most beautiful and yet historical events at the field of fashion. If you keep an eye on celebrity looks starred at the Academy Awards or Cannes Film Festival, you have probably made it sure — nothing can beat Met Gala fantastic dresses. A spectacular flight of fantasy which is not held back either by practical considerations or budget for the show. First explore a small flashback on how this all began.
In the distant 1948 a new institution dedicated to the history of costume was open as a part of the famous Metropolitan Museum. Indeed, the newly-founded Costume Institute needed promotion as well as financial aid, that’s how Eleanor Lambert, the New York Dress Institute journalist, came up with an idea to make annual fashion exhibitions and fundraising galas in one bottle. Formally, the event was called the Costume Institute Gala, however, the name of Met Gala caught on better. By the way, Met comes from the Metropolitan, if you still doubt it 🙂
Hard to imagine but the entrance ticket for the first Met Gala ever was 50 $ only. Everyone could buy the pass for the midnight dinner and didn’t have to bother about his outfit as the dress from the Costume Institute Archive was already included in the price.
Would anyone today have missed a chance to see the gorgeous show for such little money? However, at that time, mainly the higher society was interested in attending Met Gala. The reason for that was the event’s format — a fundraising night and, perhaps, to a lesser extent it’s focus on arts and fashion as well as its close relation to the Metropolitan Museum’s activity.
Since 1960 Met Gala has been held at the same place annually — the Metropolitan Museum’s Great Hall. 1971 is another important year in the festival history — ex Vogue US Editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland became the Costume Institute Gala Fashion Consultant and it’s leader and mastermind at once. Met Gala came to be a significant event in the world of fashion — each show started having its own theme, guests had to choose their outfits carefully as if it were a posh masquerade (in some sense, it really was). But it is Anna Wintour, the present Vogue US Editor-in-chief, who has been chairing the Gala since 1995 and has helped the event to reach its apogee. Thanks to her, Met Gala turned into the first celebrity party to be worth instagramming and, let’s be honest, into a true vanity fair which one can’t stop staring at.
Celebrities who are regular at Met Gala will always save the face carefully choosing their evening gown but some stars managed to make a living fashion legend out of their outfit. Listing all the extravagant dresses from Met Gala history is like trying to cross an ocean by swimming. Therefore, let’s meet a brief editorial selection below. Any other dresses you find even more stunning?
Cher, the ‘Naked’ Dress (1974)
Designer: Bob Mackie.
Theme of the year: Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design
A Swarovski crystal-embellished translucent evening gown with feathered sleeves and hem — American singer and actress Cher looked just fabulous in the dress by Bob Mackie at Met Gala 1974. The outfit was really brave for the 70’s fashion world, thus, Cher set the tone for naked designs for the next decades of Met Gala, the Academy Awards and other prestigious festivals. Through the revealing dress of Cher one can even see her nipples, however, the well-built 28-year-old singer in the well-made costume looked nothing but elegantly.
Naomi Campbell (1990)
Designer: Gianni Versace.
Theme of the year: Théâtre de la Mode: Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture
With her extra-mini Versace dress, Naomi Campbell certainly hit the target looking like the most exclusive ‘Fashion Doll’ of the evening. The 90’s just started and Naomi foresaw the freedom-loving fashion trends of the new decade. Versace couldn’t think of a better model for that dress: tall, slender with perfect legs for miles, Naomi embodied the designer’s vision of femme fatale.
Sarah Jessica Parker (2006)
Designer: Alexander McQueen.
Theme of the year: AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion
Hardly anyone would deny SJP’s dress having a sheer anglomania spirit. Especially since she appeared on Met Gala 2006 arm around the creator of the dress, Alexander McQueen, who also wore a tartan frock. The outfit perfectly matched the gala’s theme and looked pretty innovative — asymmetrical one-shoulder dresses were just coming in style at that time.
Lupita Nyong’o (2014)
Theme of the year: Charles James: Beyond Fashion
The Roaring 20’s and 30’s came back onstage with Lupita Nyong’o incredible Prada gown. A perfect flapper and an exotic dancer — the Kenyan actress translated the best looks from the past with her dress decorated with emerald Cartier jewels. The Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o set a good example in 2014 of how retro style can look ‘beyond fashion’ — still fresh and relevant today.
Designer: Guo Pei.
Theme of the year: China: Through the Looking Glass
The extremely long evening gown for Rihanna’s appearance at Met Gala 2015 was made by the Chinese designer Guo Pei who spent 2 years on careful work. Rihanna looked just like a princess from the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story (imagining it were a Chinese fairytale). Though it was pretty hard to walk in this dress, Rihanna seemed to be very happy. So was Guo Pei who managed to make a name by creating an evening gown for the pop diva.
Jared Leto, carrying his ‘own’ dismembered head (2019)
Designer: Gucci fashion house (helmed by Alessandro Michele)
Theme of the year: Camp: Notes on Fashion
The American singer and actor Jared Leto got it right that The Fall 2018 Gucci collection (where models crossed the runway carrying their ‘own’ dismembered heads) was a pure camp case. So is the theme of Met Gala 2019. If you want to know more about camp, read Susan Sontag’s Notes on ‘Camp’. If you want to see camp philosophy embodied in fashion, treat yourself with photos of Leto at this year gala. The singer’s silky crimson gown by Gucci embellished with crystals really benefits when Jared Leto carries his personalized head under his arm. A beautiful face is nice, but two is much better — well done, Jared! Susan Sontag would have been proud of you.
Thus, the highly social and entertaining Met Gala has been writing the history of fashion since 1948 — each year, recently held on the first Monday of May. Save the date and money for the next show — the entrance fee starts from 30,000 $ per a ticket.