Iconic Met Gala themes over the years

Arushi Sakhuja
Fashion’s most coveted annual event, The Met Gala is all set to take place on Monday, May 1. Consequently, the Met Gala fever has begun once again. This year’s theme is an ode to the late veteran designer and fashion personality Karl Lagerfeld. Titled ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’, the annual celebration of the Costume Institute’s upcoming exhibition will centre around the late Karl Lagerfeld. The Met confirmed the news at a press presentation during Paris Fashion Week in September and, more recently, it announced that the theme of the gala would be “in honour of Karl”.
Karl Lagerfeld
Photo Courtesy: Karl Lagerfeld
Additionally, the new mommy and Bollywood star Alia Bhatt will be making her debut at the event ahead of her Hollywood with Heart of Stone. According to sources, she will walk the red carpet at this year’s Met Gala in a custom-made outfit by Prabal Gurung.
Alia Bhatt Met Gala debut
Photo Courtesy: Alia Bhatt/Instagram
Alia Bhatt Met Gala debut
Photo Courtesy: Alia Bhatt/Instagram
What is the Met Gala and when did it start?
The event began in 1948 as a society midnight supper at a place other than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has emerged to become one the most significant fashion events in the world. But more than that, it is a fundraising event that takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for the Costume Institute also known as The Anna Wintour Costume Center.
1996: Diana, Princess of Wales | Theme: Christian Dior
The first-ever Met Gala took place in 1971 and the theme was Fashion Plate which meant a person who dresses very fashionably, or an illustration of a clothing style. Hence defining what the event really meant in times to come. Every year the exhibit has a different theme and The Met Gala serves as the inauguration of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibition. The exhibit’s theme establishes the mood for the event, and invitees must dress accordingly. At times, the theme is broad in nature like last year’s theme Gilded Glamour, but in 2017, the Met Gala’s theme was Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, in honour of the avant-garde Japanese label, Comme des Garçons, and 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty theme making these more specific.
Iconic themes over the years 
1985: Costumes of Royal India
1985- Costumes of Royal India
Photo Courtesy: Met Gala
Hillary-clinton at the Met Gala
Photo Courtesy: Met Gala
For 1985, India was the focus. This was the year that Cher showed up in the iconic see-through black and gold dress that has gone down in fashion history.
1988: From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837–1877
1988- From Queen to Empress- Victorian Dress 1837–1877
Photo Courtesy: Met Gala
1988- From Queen to Empress- Victorian Dress 1837–18772
Photo Courtesy: Met Gala
Victorian dresses have been a source of fashion inspiration for many years now and are even now used to inspire modern fashion with the return of the corset. From John Galliano’s Victorian-inspired dresses to the resurgence of the corset in 1988, the Costume Insitute looked to the era for the theme of the gala.
1998: Cubism and Fashion
1998- Cubism and Fashion
Photo Courtesy: Met Gala
In 1998, the Met choose Cubism and Fashion to highlight how the traits of Cubism have been incorporated into art and fashion. Guests wore outfits inspired by the works of Picasso and other cubist painters to the event.
1999: Rock Style
1999: Rock Style Met Gala
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
Rock was a mainstay of the ’90s and the 1999 Rock Style theme for 1999 focused on the grunge look of the decade. From custom tees to fur, to a mix of hardcore and princess aesthetics, the looks were eclectic and unlike the usual offering a refreshing spin.
2008 Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
Photo Courtesy: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Yet another stand-out theme of the Met Gala was the superheroes theme of 2008. While once would expect a lot of capes, attendees took the theme and turned it into fashion’s interpretation of superhero costumes. Victoria Beckham wore a supervillain-inspired Giorgio Armani gown that had a high neck with a plunging neckline, whereas Kate Bosworth took the comic book theme to heart in a colourful Chanel gown.
2009: The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion
2009: The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion
Kate Moss at 2009: The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion
An interesting theme that put a spotlight on the models. The theme for 2009 was to allow designers to take their imagination in any direction they wanted. Some attendees went all out with avant-garde looks, while others played it safe. It was a mix of aesthetics that came together under one theme.
2013: Punk: Chaos to Couture
Met Gala
2013: Punk: Chaos to Couture | Kim Kardashian
The most fun theme in the last decade: punk. It was a moment to dress like a high-fashion Avril Lavigne. Guests wore their best punk attire with fishnets, mesh, and sharp cuts taking over the carpet.
2015: China: Through the Looking Glass
2015: China: Through the Looking Glass Met Gala
Rihanna 2015: China: Through the Looking Glass
Remembered as the Met Gala of Rihanna’s epic gold train, 2015’s theme celebrated China’s influence on Western fashion. Rihanna stole the show with her iconic yellow gown designed by Chinese designer Guo Pei. The theme inspired many to wear black, red, or gold.
2016: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
2016: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology
2016: Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology | Emma Watson
Manus x Machina meant metallic for most individuals. The exhibition focused on the difference between handmade and machine-made garments. It was a night to mix the details of master artisans with the work of the newest technology. Celebrating the age of technology, guests wore technology-inspired outfits. Claire Danes wore a glowing gown, while Emma Watson wore an outfit made from water bottles.
2018: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
2018: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination | Met Gala
2018: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination
2018: Heavenly Bodies Met Gala
2018: Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination Katy Perry
2018’s divine theme had hundreds of holy items on display, including dozens of artefacts and objects sent over from the Vatican. Guests rose to the occasion at the annual gala and showed up in outfits inspired by the Pope, angels, and other religious figures.
You may also like:  
A Round-Up Of The Best Looks From The Met Gala 2022 
Met Gala over the years: best looks of the decade