As Fashion Week is in full swing and the Met Gala just happened, I’m looking back on the past five Met Galas and reminiscing my favourite yet still iconic looks that impacted the fashion world.
2014 Met Gala
Charles James: Beyond Fashion
Firstly, in honour of Charles James, an iconic fashion designer, the museum celebrated his work as its theme on the night. He is best known for his ball gowns and sculptural aesthetic.
Riccardo Tisci designed Naomi Campbell’s 2014 Givenchy dress on the red carpet, pictured above. She wore a soft pink gown with pink feather sleeves featuring silver embellishments. Moreover, Tisci designed her dress with detailed cutouts around the waist and gathered elements around the bust to create volume for a feminine silhouette. Despite having the drape of Charles James, this fabric still has the overall aesthetic of Givenchy.
2015 Met Gala
China: Through the Looking Glass
Most celebrities and designers succeeded in executing this theme, similar to Manus x Machina the year after. Stars either went sophisticated and chic or took the night’s theme literally and chose a look that brought them to another level. There was a great deal of praise and awe for the influence of China on Western fashion, making it hard to choose a favourite.
In a traditional Chinese floral printed dress, designer Erdem gave fashionista Alexa Chung a striking take on the theme. Traditional silks in an intense mauve shade were used for the gown, and pleats were incorporated into the skirt to create volume. Modernising the conventional prints with colour and silhouette made the dress wearable and contemporary. Erdem took inspiration loosely from the Chinese movie ‘In the Mood for Love’ directed by Wong Kar Wai, set in the 60s.
2016 Met Gala
Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
Next, technology and fashion merged together for the 2016’s event. I saw an array of haute couture and ready-to-wear garments on the carpet. The theme specifically looked at how tech shapes fashion in the future and the museum’s interpretation of this analogy.
Some designers opted for a formal approach and pared-back looks. Others took the theme literally and created unique pieces. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West did that, wearing Balmain and Fear of God, respectively. The Balmain dress represented a modern suit of armour. Using reflective fabrics and heavy silver embellishments, Balmain created a body of mirrors. Comparatively, Kanye wore a crystal-encrusted denim jacket to elevate his look, paired with ripped jeans to match Kim.
2017 Met Gala
Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between
The 2017 Met Gala credited renowned Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons by displaying their pieces throughout the museum. While some celebrities wore pieces authentically from fashion houses, others wore pieces from different designers that brought their own twist to the theme.
A gown that stood out amongst the rest was Rihanna’s Comme des Garçons dress. Wearing an original piece, the garment was bold and exciting by challenging shapes and silhouettes and defining art into fashion. The dress exhibited floral prints and layered petal design features. This structural garment comprehended the Avant-Garde theme of the ball. I greatly admire Rihanna for her show-stopping looks every year, and this year was no different.
2018 Met Gala
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
Heavenly Bodies paid homage to the Roman Catholic Church by showcasing a variety of garments portraying the theme. This year was particularly hard to pick favourites as it was such an extravagant year for all the designers as they immersed themselves in the night’s festivities.
Blake Lively’s outstanding gown caught the cameras’ attention as she walked into Atelier Versace. Her deep ruby dress, embellished with intricate gold details, took over 600 hours for the fashion house to make. All of the stops were pulled out to create the garment! The top half was a beaded encrusted corset, whilst the bottom half carried a long train and two mesh panels going down her leg to show off the actress’ figure. The outfit was completed by her spiked headpiece, symbolising omnipotence.
2019 Met Gala
Camp: Notes on Fashion
“Camp” was the last theme before the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the 2020 Met Gala to be postponed. The 2019 Gala did not disappoint, as the garments were louder, brighter and more exaggerated than ever before. Not only was art displayed as fashion, but designers and celebrities took it one step further to create short red-carpet performances to draw your attention.
The most special outfit(s) belonged to the co-chairman of the year, Lady Gaga. She and Brandon Maxwell created a stunning performance on the night! Gaga revealed four looks on the red carpet to display what ‘camp’ really meant to the duo. Gaga is known for her dramatic fashion, so as she arrived in a massive puffy hot pink gown accompanied by a giant pink bow and train, a sea of black umbrellas danced around her, transitioning into her next outfit.
Her second outfit showed off a black gown with an asymmetric figure and neckline. Underneath was her third dress. Gaga wore a sleek fuchsia dress and a Judith Lieber cell phone bag. Finally, her last outfit was stripped down to a sparkly black bra, fishnets and underwear, a staple in Gaga’s fashion repertoire.
Nazifa is a fashion and style contributor for SSEDITORIAL Magazine, although she occasionally contributes to sseditorial runway and education. She regularly talks about all facets of the fashion industry, including sustainability, social issues, style, and fashion. She also enjoys going to art galleries and exhibitions when she has free time.