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Met Gala: The past 10 themes explained

Ahead of this year's event, we take a look back at the last 10 Met Gala themes...

Orion Scott
Fashion Features Writer
May 4, 2024
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Come Monday evening fashion fans will be refreshing their feeds on double time as the world's most fashionable famed faces descend on The Metropolitan Museum of Art steps to celebrate the 2024 Met Gala

This year's theme is 'Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion' while the dress code for the night is 'The Garden of Time'. Fashion fanatics are expecting to see flora and fauna reimagined into a spectacle of wearable art. 

50 years on from the first theme 'The World of Balenciaga' which paid tribute to the famous Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, we take a look back at some of the most influential Met Gala themes from the last 10 years.

Doja Cat attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023© Getty

Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty - 2023

Last year's theme was a homage to fashion royalty the late Karl Lagerfeld whose career in the fashion industry pioneers countless iconic aesthetics and history-making looks. The Costume Institute showcased over 150 garments from his six-decade reign working at Chanel, Fendi, Chloe and his namesake brand, Karl Lagerfeld. 

Attendees of the event went all out for the evening, Doja Cat even went as far as to cosplay as the late designer's beloved feline friend Choupette. 

Kim Kardashian attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022© Getty

In America: An Anthology of Fashion - 2022

2022 was the year Kim Kardashian made headlines for wearing Marilyn Monroe's iconic diamante encrusted dress that she wore to serenade President Kennedy. The theme was the second part of the Costume Institute’s homage to American Designers, the first being In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which was the theme for 2021.

Zoe Kravitz attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021© Getty

America: A Lexicon of Fashion - 2021

Designed to shed light on American designers both past, present and future, the America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition included over 100 pieces from American designers. Guests of the event including Zoë Kravitz, Billie Eilish and Rihanna all stepped out in designer ensembles which all effortlessly highlighted the theme on the world stage.

Lady Gaga attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2019 in New York City© Getty

Camp: Notes on Fashion - 2019

Possibly one of the most iconic themes to date, 2019 saw famed faces and designers work together to create showstopping garments that channel the camp aesthetic made famous in the 1960s. Zendaya wore a light-up Cinderella dress by Tommy Hilfiger whilst Lady Gaga donned not one, not two, not three but four custom Brandon Maxwell ensembles.

Lana Del Rey attends Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala a  the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City© Getty

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination - 2018

Inspired by the Vatican and its holy archive items, 2018's theme paid tribute to religious art and all its glory. Many stars took the theme literally, donning crystal-encrusted headpieces and intricately embroidered gowns in rich burgundy and gold hues.

Cara Delevingne attends the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 © Getty

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between - 2017

In honour of Japanese designer and founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between was a spectacle all about wacky, weird and iconic objects loved by the famed designer. This was also the year Bella Hadid wore a crochet black catsuit and Cara Delevingne painted her head metallic silver.

Emma Watson attends "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala© Getty

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

Focusing on the contrast between handmade and machine-made garments, 2016’s theme was interpreted by stars donning both archival haute couture pieces and futuristic recycled plastic bottle gowns.

Beyonce attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015© Getty

China: Through the Looking Glass - 2015

This was the year Beyoncé stunned in a sheer, crystal-encrusted Givenchy gown and Rihanna took up the whole red carpet steps with her opulent yellow cape and dress look by Chinese couture designer Guo Pei. The theme was all about celebrating China’s effect on the Western fashion world, headed up by both the Department of Asian Art and the Costume Institute.

Victoria Beckham attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014© Getty

Charles James: Beyond Fashion - 2014

Co-chaired by Sarah Jessica Parker, Bradley Cooper and Oscar de la Renta the 2014 theme was a homage to late designer Charles Wilson Brega James, who was considered “fashion’s first genius.” Tailored suiting, intricate use of materials and draped designs were at the forefront this year.

Anne Hathaway attends the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013© Getty

Punk: Chaos to Couture - 2013

Focusing on the heavily celebrated punk movement of both New York and London, the theme for 2013 was all about DIY culture and the couture concept of "made-to-measure." Many stars leaned into the punk aesthetic, opting for mesh materials, cutout panels, leather accessories and metal-encrusted layering.

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