The Met Gala themes throughout the years

The Met Gala themes throughout the years

The Met Gala is always one of the most talked-about events on the fashion calendar and it is very nearly that time of year again. On the first Monday in May (this year falling on this coming Monday, 1 May), the biggest names in fashion, film and music will gather at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art for the biggest red-carpet catwalk of the year.

The theme for 2023 centres around the late, great Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most famous and beloved fashion designers of our generation. Guests will likely pay tribute to the designer by wearing archival pieces of his or having designers pay homage to his work in their own way.

The event itself has been an annual tradition since 1948, but the idea of a theme wasn't actually introduced until 1971. Below, we chart the most memorable themes in Met Gala history, from the Seventies to the present day.

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1974 - Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design

Cher arguably invented the naked dress trend at the 1974 gala, which she attended with the dress' designer Bob Mackie.

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1977 - Vanity Fair: A Treasure Trove

TV journalist Barbara Walters was a regular attendee of the annual event throughout the Seventies and Eighties. Here, she adhered to the theme perfectly, dressing in a shimmering one-shouldered gown and diamond earrings for the Treasure Trove dress code. Businesswoman and beauty guru Estée Lauder joined her in a red gown, glittering necklace and silver clutch.

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1980 - The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of China, the Chi'ng Dynasty

The Met Gala is known for its incredible guest lists just as much as it is for the extravagant outfits. Here, artist Andy Warhol is pictured in a suave dinner suit for the event.

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1981 - The Eighteenth Century Woman

Bianca Jagger stunned in a beautiful strapless full-skirt ball gown.

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1983 - Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design

Actress Brooke Shields wore a classic Eighties look with statement puffed sleeves to the gala which celebrated 25 years of Yves Saint Laurent.

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1985 - Costumes of Royal India

Cher was once again joined by designer Bob Mackie for the 1985 Met Gala, where the theme was Costumes of Royal India. She wore a sheer bodysuit teamed with a low-waist skirt.

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

Naomi Campbell attended her first Met Gala in 1990, arriving with American fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo.

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1994 - Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress

Joan Rivers was a regular attendee of the prestigious event throughout the Nineties. For the 1994 gala, she defined Hollywood glamour with an elegant black halter-neck gown.

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1995 - Haute Couture

Kate Moss was pictured at the 1995 gala wearing a lemon coloured backless gown, with Calvin Klein (who designed her dress) and Christy Turlington.

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1996 - Christian Dior

Back in the 1990s, the Met Gala guest list wasn't just reserved for celebrities. Diana, Princess of Wales attended the event in a navy lace-trimmed Dior dress accessorised with royal jewels.

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1997 - Gianni Versace

Designer Donatella Versace was pictured with Iman at the 1997 Met Gala, which that year paid homage to her brother, Gianni Versace.

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1998 - Cubism and Fashion

Although the Met Gala has evolved over the years, it has always remained a good excuse for guests to get dressed up. Claudia Schiffer attended in a silk pink dress with a contrasting green scarf in 1998.

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1999 - Rock Style

Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney took the 1999 theme very literally with matching one-shoulder tops that read 'rock royalty'.

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2001 - Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years

Stella McCartney returned to the Met Gala in 2001, in a sequinned red number, hand-in-hand with Gwyneth Paltrow.

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2003 - Goddess: The Classical Mode

Kim Cattrall, at the height of Sex and the City's popularity, donned a shimmering sheer take on the classic black dress in 2003.

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2004 - Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century

Models Amber Valetta, Natalia Vodianova and Linda Evangelista took the '04 theme very seriously in corsets and wigs.

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2005 - The House of Chanel

Claire Danes wore a lace, floor-length gown with delicate pink sleeves.

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2006 - Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion

Alexander McQueen walked the red carpet hand-in-hand with Sarah Jessica Parker, both in matching tartan creations of his, in an iconic Met Gala moment.

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2007 - Poiret: King of Fashion

Kate Bosworth embodied glamour with her vintage-inspired hair style and a taupe silk dress.

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2008 - Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

Victoria and David Beckham arrived for the 2008 gala in glamorous monochrome looks.

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2009 - The Model As Muse: Embodying Fashion

Marc Jacobs and Kate Moss posed on zebra-printed stairs, with Moss wearing a Marc Jacobs mini-dress and turban, in what has now become one of the most famous Met Gala looks of all time.

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2010 - American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity

At the Met Gala, bolder is better. Katy Perry stood out among the 2010 crowd in a light-up dress.

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2011 - Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Jennifer Lopez looked effortlessly elegant in a floor-length red gown with ruffled sleeves.

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2012 - Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

Solange was pictured at the 2012 gala in a sunshine yellow strapless design.

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2013 - Punk: Chaos to Couture

Miley Cyrus nailed the punk theme of the 2013 gala in a floor-length mesh dress with spiky blonde hair and a bright red lip.

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2014 - Charles James: Beyond Fashion

With the Met Gala, it's important to take in a 360-degree view of every dress on the carpet – the back is often just as impressive as the front, as seen here with Sarah Jessica Parker's 2014 Oscar de la Renta gown.

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2015 - China: Through the Looking Glass

Rihanna never disappoints with her Met Gala looks. In 2015, her yellow embroidered cape because an internet hit and was turned into countless memes. Her gown took Chinese designer Guo Pei two years to make.

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2016 - Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology

Beyoncé took the theme on board in this latex Givenchy dress for the Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology gala.

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2017 - Comme des Garçons's Rei Kawakubo

Priyanka Chopra demonstrated that you don't always have to wear a floor-length dress to look dressed up. 2017 was Chopra's first year at the Met Gala, where she wore a Ralph Lauren look, and her first public appearance with her now-husband Nick Jonas.

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2018 - Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Again, Rihanna stole the show with another internet-breaking Met Gala moment. The star wore a Pope-inspired outfit for the Catholicism-themed event in a jewelled headpiece, cape and bodysuit by Margiela.

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2019 - Camp: Notes On Fashion

For 2019, guests dressed around the theme of camp. The exhibition explored the origins of the camp aesthetic through the framework of American writer, Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay ‘Notes on Camp’ and saw Zendaya have a real-life Cinderella moment in her Tommy Hilfiger gown.

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2021 - About Time: Fashion and Duration

The 2021 Met Gala took place in September, due to pandemic restrictions forcing the event to be cancelled in 2020 and pushing this one back a few months. On the night, Kaia Gerber paid tribute to Bianca Jagger's 1981 Met Gala look in her black Oscar de la Renta ballgown.

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2022 - In America: An Anthology of Fashion

In 2022, the Met Gala returned to its usual scheduling in May and saw guests pay tribute to American movie stars and the unsung heroes of American fashion. Kim Kardashian took the opportunity to honour Marilyn Monroe by wearing one of the most famous dresses the movie star had ever worn.

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From 'Gianni Versace' and 'Rock Style' to 'Punk Chaos' and 'Heavenly Bodies', here we chart all the most memorable Met Gala themes.