How celebrities' red-carpet fashion has dramatically changed since their very first Met Gala

·17 min read
How celebrities' red-carpet fashion has dramatically changed since their very first Met Gala
Rihanna Met Gala Transformation
Rihanna is among the stars who've had a dramatic Met Gala transformation. CHANCE YEH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images/Kevin Mazur/MG18/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
  • Met Gala fashion has dramatically changed through the decades.

  • Many celebrities have gone from wearing simple evening gowns to going all out with bold fashion.

  • Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Blake Lively have all had especially dramatic transformations.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Katy Perry sported a sleek blue dress for her first Met Gala in 2009.

Katy Perry Met Gala 2009
Katy Perry attends "The Model as Muse" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2009, in New York City. CHANCE YEH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The pop star's dress featured a metallic choker, which she paired with a sleek black bob for "The Model as Muse" exhibit.

But Perry lit up the red carpet with her most recent Met Gala look in 2019, dressing as a chandelier.

katy perry
Katy Perry at the 2019 Met Gala. Sean Anni

Perry wore the diamond-encrusted ensemble, which featured working bulbs, for the Met Gala's "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Zendaya made her Met Gala debut with a dramatic red skirt full of volume in 2015.

Zendaya Met Gala 2015
Zendaya attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015, in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic

The young star wasn't afraid to go bold for her first time at fashion's biggest night, pairing her daring skirt with a gold crown for the "China: Through The Looking Glass" exhibit.

Zendaya glowed on the red carpet - literally - with her Cinderella-inspired dress in 2019.

zendaya 2019 met gala
Zendaya at the 2019 Met Gala. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Zendaya's longtime stylist Law Roach told Vogue that her dress for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit was inspired by the actress' Disney roots.

Rihanna wore a relatively simple white dress to her first Met Gala in 2007.

Rihanna Met Gala 2007
Rihanna attends the Met Gala in honor of "Poiret: King of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2007 in New York City. CHANCE YEH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Rihanna paired her embellished gown with a red rose and sheer black gloves for the "Poiret: King of Fashion" exhibit.

But Rihanna has since become the queen of the Met Gala thanks to her dramatic looks, including this 2018 outfit that was inspired by the pope.

rihanna met gala
Rihanna attends the Met Gala for "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" in May 2018. Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Rihanna's ensemble, which took 250 hours to sew and 500 hours to hand-embroider, stole the show during the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibit in 2018.

Sarah Jessica Parker rocked tartan for her first Met Gala back in 2006.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Alexander McQueen
Sarah Jessica Parker and Alexander McQueen at the "Anglomania" Met Gala in May 2006. Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment

The "Sex and the City" star arrived with Alexander McQueen, who designed the dress for the "Anglomania" exhibit in 2006.

Parker pulled out all the stops for her 2018 Met Gala appearance, sporting a gold brocade dress with a flowing train.

Sarah Jessica Parker Met Gala 2018
Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2018 Met Gala. Charles Sykes/AP Photos

Parker's headpiece for the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibit featured a Nativity scene.

Kim Kardashian's first Met Gala dress became a huge meme on the internet.

Kim Kardashian attended the 2013 Met Gala while pregnant alongside husband Kanye West.
Kim Kardashian attended the 2013 Met Gala while pregnant alongside Kanye West. Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The reality TV star, who made her Met Gala debut as Kanye West's plus one for the "PUNK: Chaos To Couture" exhibit, revealed years later that she cried after seeing the response to her floral gown.

Kim Kardashian was dripping in crystals as she arrived at the 2019 Met Gala.

kim kardashian met gala 2019
Kim Kardashian at the 2019 Met Gala. Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Kardashian later revealed that her custom Thierry Mugler dress — designed to look like water droplets — was so tight that she prepared for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit by taking corset breathing lessons.

Kendall Jenner opted for a simple and sleek cream gown for her first Met Gala in 2014.

Kendall Jenner Met Gala
Kendall Jenner attends the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014, in New York City. Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

The rising model wore a custom Topshop gown for the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" exhibit.

But Jenner wasn't afraid to turn heads with her most recent Met Gala ensemble in 2019.

kendall jenner met gala 2019
Kendall Jenner at the 2019 Met Gala. Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage

Jenner opted for a flaming neon-orange Versace gown, complete with plenty of feathers, for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Blake Lively didn't make much of a splash at her first Met Gala in 2008.

Blake Lively Met Gala 2008
Blake Lively attends the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" on May 5, 2008, in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

The "Gossip Girl" star went with an elegant black strapless gown with matching gloves for the "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" exhibit.

But Lively has since become a Met Gala favorite, most recently wowing fans with this embellished red-and-gold gown in 2018.

Blake Lively at the 2018 Met Gala.
Blake Lively at the 2018 Met Gala. Jackson Lee/Getty Images

Lively's regal Versace gown for the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibit featured a flowing train and took 600 hours to make.

Beyoncé wore a strapless satin gown for her first Met Gala appearance in 2008.

Beyonce Met Gala 2008
Beyoncé arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala for "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" on May 5, 2008, in New York City. Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Beyoncé opted to keep things simple for the "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" exhibit.

Beyoncé became a Met Gala icon with her famous naked dress in 2015. She then opted for a latex ensemble for her most recent appearance the following year.

beyonce 2016 met gala
Beyoncé at the 2016 Met Gala. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Beyoncé went in a completely different direction from her most famous Met Gala dress with this long-sleeved flesh-colored Givenchy gown at the "Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" exhibit.

Solange looked like a geometric dream at her first Met Gala in 2011.

Solange Knowles Met Gala
Solange Knowles attends the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2011, in New York City. Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Solange wore the intricately patterned dress to the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit in 2011.

But Solange stuck to one very bold pattern for her most recent Met Gala in 2019.

Solange Knowles Met Gala 2019
Solange Knowles attends the Met Gala for "Camp: Notes on Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York City. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Solange wore python from head to toe with this custom Salvatore Ferragamo ensemble at the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Lady Gaga wore a kimono-inspired ensemble for her first Met Gala red carpet in 2015.

Lady Gaga Met Gala 2015
Lady Gaga attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015, in New York City. Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic

Lady Gaga's outfit for the "China: Through the Looking Glass" exhibit was designed by Alexander Wang and featured feathers and a crown.

Lady Gaga made one of the most iconic Met Gala entrances of all time when she arrived on the red carpet in 2019.

Lady Gaga Met Gala 2019
Lady Gaga arriving for the Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Lady Gaga sported four different looks in the span of minutes, putting on a playful show for guests at the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Miley Cyrus took the punk theme seriously for her Met Gala debut in 2013.

miley cyrus 2013 met gala
Miley Cyrus at the 2013 Met Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Cyrus sported a mesh Marc Jacobs gown and short, spiked blonde hair for the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibit.

And Cyrus kept the punk vibes going with this sparkling green-and-black ensemble at the 2019 Met Gala.

miley cyrus met gala
Miley Cyrus at the 2019 Met Gala. Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Cyrus paired her Saint Laurent minidress with polka-dot tights and sky-high platforms for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Jennifer Lopez went for a romantic look at her first Met Gala in 2004 with a lacy and ruffled black dress.

Jennifer Lopez Met Gala 2004
Jennifer Lopez with Stefano Gabbana (left) and Domenico Dolce (right) at the Met Gala in 2004. Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Lopez paired her gown with a bold red lip and braided updo for the "Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century" exhibit.

But Lopez went full glam for her most recent Met Gala appearance in 2019, opting for a plunging Versace dress that was dripping in jewels.

j lo met gala 2
Jennifer Lopez at the 2019 Met Gala. Getty/Neilson Barnard

Lopez also sported a shimmering headpiece and accessorized her ensemble with $8.8 million dollars worth of Harry Winston jewelry for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Emily Ratajkowski made her first Met Gala appearance in a long-sleeved cream dress with a bold print in 2015.

Emily Ratajkowski Met Gala 2015
Emily Ratajkowski attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015, in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Ratajkowski paired the look with gold heels and kept her makeup and hair simple for the "China: Through The Looking Glass" exhibit.

Ratajkowski wore the ultimate naked dress for the 2019 Met Gala, sporting a custom barely-there Dundas gown.

emily ratajkowski
Emily Ratajkowski at the 2019 Met Gala. John Shearer/Getty Images

Ratajkowski completed her sparkling ensemble with a feathered headpiece for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Many thought Ratajkowski's dress was inspired by the naked dress that Cher wore to her first Met Gala in 1974.

cher met gala 1974
Cher at the 1974 Met Gala. Ron Galella/Getty Images

The dress, which Cher wore to the "Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design" exhibit, was created by Bob Mackie — whose designs were included in the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Cher kept things a little more casual when she performed at the 2019 Met Gala.

Cher Met Gala 2019
Cher performs onstage during the 2019 Met Gala for "Camp: Notes on Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York City. Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Cher sported personalized Relax jeans and a silk Givenchy top as she entertained guests at the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Cara Delevingne wore an elegant black gown with a plunging neckline for her first Met Gala in 2011.

Cara Delevingne Met Gala 2011
Cara Delevingne and Douglas Booth attend the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2011. Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Delevingne sported the dress — which featured a satin black skirt — at the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit.

But Delevigne wasn't afraid of wearing color - and lots of it - at her most recent Met Gala appearance in 2019.

cara delevigne 2019 met gala
Cara Delevigne at the 2019 Met Gala. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Delevigne's playful and circus-inspired Dior ensemble, which she wore to the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit, took over 600 hours to make.

Anne Hathaway sported a metallic purple dress for her first Met Gala red carpet in 2009.

Anne Hathaway Met Gala
Anne Hathaway attends the Met Gala for "The Model As Muse" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2009, in New York City. CHANCE YEH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Hathaway accessorized the ensemble with big hair and emerald earrings for "The Model as Muse" exhibit.

Hathaway opted for a bold red dress with plenty of volume for the Met Gala in 2018.

Anne Hathaway attends the Met Gala 2018
Anne Hathaway attends the Met Gala 2018. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Hathaway wore the couture Valentino gown — which she paired with a striking gold headpiece — to the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibit.

Zoe Kravitz channeled Old Hollywood glamour with a mint-green velvet dress for her first Met Gala in 2008.

Zoe Kravitz Met Gala 2008
Zoe Kravitz arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" on May 5, 2008, in New York City. Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Kravitz's gown for the "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" exhibit featured feathers and a tassel.

Kravitz sported a gown with a daring heart-shaped cutout for her most recent Met Gala appearance in 2019.

Zoe Kravitz Met Gala
Zoe Kravitz attends the Met Gala for "Camp: Notes on Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Kravitz shimmered from head to toe in the black dress during the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Madonna looked fresh as a daisy at her first Met Gala in 1997.

Madonna Met Gala 1997
Madonna, Donatella Versace, and Elton John at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Costume Institute's exhibition of the fashions of Gianni Versace in December 1997. Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Madonna paired the sheer tank with crimped hair for the exhibit honoring the late Gianni Versace's fashion.

Madonna was regal in an all-black ensemble for her most recent Met Gala appearance in 2018.

Madonna attends the Met Gala 2018
Madonna attends the 2018 Met Gala. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Madonna paired her Jean Paul Gaultier ball gown with a netted veil, cross necklaces, and a crown for the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" exhibit.

Janelle Monáe sported a classic black-and-white ensemble - her signature colors - for her first Met Gala in 2011.

Janelle Monae Met Gala
Janelle Monáe attends the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2011, in New York City. Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Monáe paired her white collared shirt and black slacks with a black top hat for the "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" exhibit.

But Monáe added some bold color to her most recent Met Gala look in 2019.

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monáe brought art to life at the 2019 Met Gala. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Monáe told Vanity Fair that her ensemble for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit — which included a motorized blinking eye — was inspired by Picasso.

Naomi Campbell wore a multicolored, printed minidress to her first Met Gala in 1990.

Naomi Campbell Met Gala 1990
Naomi Campbell and fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo attend the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on December 3, 1990. Rose Hartman/Getty Images

Campbell wore the bold ensemble to the "Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture" exhibit.

Campbell was all about the drama at her most recent Met Gala appearance, wearing pink from head to toe in 2019.

naomi campbell 2019 met gala
Naomi Campbell at the 2019 Met Gala. Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage/Getty Images

Campbell's couture Valentino gown featured lace tights and a flowing feather cape for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Gigi Hadid wore a slinky red gown for her first Met Gala appearance in 2015.

Gigi Hadid wears a red dress with a slit on a red carpet.
Gigi Hadid at the 2015 Met Gala. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor / Getty Images

Hadid's gown — which she wore to the "China: Through the Looking Glass" exhibit — featured a plunging neckline and thigh-high slit.

Hadid brought high-fashion to the red carpet for the 2019 Met Gala with this shimmering and feathered catsuit.

gigi hadid met gala 2019
Gigi Hadid at the 2019 Met Gala. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Hadid paired the Michael Kors ensemble with a matching headpiece and boots for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Bella Hadid wore a short black dress for her first Met Gala red carpet in 2015.

Bella Hadid Met Gala 2015
Bella Hadid at the 2015 Met Gala. Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Hadid's dress for the "China: Through the Looking Glass" exhibit featured a large gold rose.

Hadid wore another black dress for her most recent Met Gala in 2019, but this ensemble featured way more bling.

bella hadid 2019 met gala
Bella Hadid and Jeremy Scott at the 2019 Met Gala. John Shearer/Getty Images

Hadid wore a daring Moschino cutout dress covered in jewels for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit.

Lupita Nyong'o made a splash with a feathered and mesh dress on her first Met Gala red carpet.

Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o at the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Met Gala in May 2014. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images Entertainment

Nyong'o's Prada ensemble featured bright-green jewels and feathers, which she paired with a matching headband for the "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" exhibit.

Nyong'o wasn't afraid to bring the drama - or the color - with a rainbow gown covered in stars at the 2019 Met Gala.

lupita nyong'o 2019 met gala
Lupita Nyong'o attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute gala for "Camp: Notes on Fashion" on May 6, 2019, in New York. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Nyong'o paired her bold Versace ensemble for the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit with a towering updo and gold combs meant to "demonstrate the power, malleability, and luxuriousness of natural hair texture," her hairstylist Vernon Francois told Vogue.

Rita Ora looked chic in a white gown with glittering gold fringe for her first Met Gala in 2013.

Rita Ora Met Gala 2013
Rita Ora attends the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013, in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Ora's dress featured a daring cutout and slit as she walked the red carpet for the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibit.

Ora sported a glittering gold gown for her most recent Met Gala red carpet in 2019.

Rita Ora Met Gala 2019
Rita Ora attends the Met Gala for "Camp: Notes On Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York City. Karwai Tang/WireImage

Ora's long-sleeved Marc Jacobs dress at the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit featured a plunging neckline and striped skirt.

Nicki Minaj kept things simple for her first Met Gala red carpet in 2013 with a navy-blue gown.

Nicki Minaj Met Gala
Nicki Minaj attends the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013, in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Minaj made her bleach-blonde locks the focus of her ensemble for the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" exhibit.

Minaj was a pink dream at her most recent Met Gala appearance in 2019.

John Shearer met gala 2019
Nicki Minaj at the 2019 Met Gala. John Shearer/Getty Images

Minaj dyed her hair pink to match her Prabal Gurung gown, which featured a voluminous train and crystals that draped along the skirt and bodice.

Celine Dion wore an intricate black gown with a daring thigh-high split for her first Met Gala in 2017.

Celine Dion Met Gala 2017
Celine Dion attends the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala on May 1, 2017, in New York City. Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Dion sported the ensemble — which also featured a dramatic headpiece and silver sleeves — at the "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between" exhibit.

Dion stole the show at the 2019 Met Gala with an outfit that would've made any Vegas showgirl proud.

celine dion met gala 2019
Celine Dion at the 2019 Met Gala. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Dion paired her shimmering fringe Oscar de la Renta bodysuit with a sky-high feathered headdress that weighed 22 pounds.

Anna Wintour attended her first Met Gala in 1989, shortly after becoming the editor-in-chief of Vogue.

Anna Wintour Met Gala 1989
Anna Wintour attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Exhibition on December 4, 1989, in New York City. Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Wintour paired her knee-length black skirt with a shimmering shirt and a pile of pearl necklaces for "The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire" exhibit.

Wintour looked pretty in pink with her playful ensemble for the 2019 Met Gala.

anna wintour met gala 2019
Wintour's dress was designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld. Getty/Dia Dipasupil

Wintour revealed that the Chanel dress — which she wore to the "Camp: Notes on Fashion" exhibit — was the very last one designer Karl Lagerfeld made for her before he died in February 2019.

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