The 10 Most Memorable Met Gala Menswear Looks of All Time, From Tom Ford to Lil Nas X
It’s officially Met Gala Monday, which means the world is anxiously awaiting the iconic outfits expected to grace the New York red carpet this evening.
The invite-only attendees are encouraged to adhere to this year’s theme of “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” Though the late Chanel and Fendi designer left a string of controversies in his wake, a global assemblage of actors, singers, creatives, and others are still dressing up to bring in money for The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute—the only department at the institution that has to raise its own money.
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Ahead of the event, Robb Report is looking back at the most iconic men’s fashion moments on the Met Gala red carpet in recent memory. Keep scrolling for the good, the bad, and the sequined.
Lil Nas X, 2021
Curating and designing one outfit for fashion’s biggest night is a challenge in itself, but Donatella Versace masterfully made three for singer Lil Nas X to celebrate the opening of the In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition. The rapper revealed them, Russian doll style, arriving in an enormous gold cape with large shoulder pads and ornate embroidery before removing it to unveil a golden suit of armor. When he finally shed his battle gear, he was left wearing a black bodysuit covered in gold crystals.
Pharrell Williams (2021)
Not all incredible looks need to be show-stopping to garner well-deserved attention. When Williams, the incoming men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton, showed up in this cowboy-inspired outfit, he proved just that. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the look featured a sleek black Western shirt with white piping topped with a dazzling bolo tie for the American theme. The look was finished with steel-toe boots. Helen Lasichanh, Williams’s wife, wore a version of the same look—a nod to the fact that men didn’t win the West on their own.
Frank Ocean, 2019
The last pre-pandemic Met Gala was held to honor a show titled Camp: Notes on Fashion. And what’s more camp than wearing a windbreaker to a black-tie event? The famed “Blonde” singer paired the hardworking layer, designed by Prada, with black trousers, a white dress shirt, and a slim tie. Understated, luxurious, and—in its way—bang on theme.
Billy Porter, 2019
Unlike Ocean, Billy Porter demands attention in every room he enters. In what Vogue deemed “the most fabulous entrance in Met Gala history,” Porter arrived on a chaise lounge carried by six men–and that’s not even the best part. Once he was standing on his own two legs, he spread his arms to reveal that his golden body suit and magnificent headpiece were accented by massive wings.
Virgil Abloh, 2018
The late Abloh stunned at the 2018 Met Gala (Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination), his first as the menswear designer at Louis Vuitton. His cream-colored look was emblematic of the aesthetic he instilled at the French house, notably pairing tailoring with sneakers and a jacket accented by a harness—in this case, one lavishly embroidered with biblical iconography.
Chadwick Boseman, 2018
The late “Black Panther” star nailed the Catholic theme in his all-white ensemble by Versace, including a long cape embroidered with gold details. The cape featured crosses on either side of Boseman’s chest and complemented the ornate scrolls on his white trousers.
Tom Ford, 2014
If Tom Ford is known for anything, it is the timelessness of his work. For 2014’s Met Gala (dedicated to forward-thinking 20th-century couturier Charles James), Ford followed the white tie dress code for men to the letter. He even included a pair of white evening gloves—a touch that reminded us you have to learn the rules before you can start breaking them.
Marc Jacobs, 2013
Marc Jacobs has never been one to shy away from playful looks. During the 2013 Met Gala, which honored the punk movement in fashion, he stepped out in a slightly oversized polka dot suit with a white Peter Pan collared shirt underneath. He also added a pair of classic Converse and a black leather bag that looked like a dopp kit—a punkish move if there ever was one.
Ralph Lauren, 2010
Ralph Lauren is the epitome of classic casual, so it would only make sense that would pair distressed denim jeans and black cowboy boots with a tuxedo jacket on fashion’s biggest night. It was a quintessentially American look—fitting for that year’s show, American Women: Fashioning a National Identity.
Alexander McQueen, 2006
The famed designer locked arms and looks with Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker for the 2006 Met Gala, entitled Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion. McQueen took to the theme with a traditional Scottish kilt and red tartan plaid accents to add a pop of color to the outfit.
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