The Best Met Gala Looks of All Time: Rihanna, Frank Ocean, SJP

The Met Gala is less than a week away, and we’re gearing up for fashion’s biggest red carpet birdwatch by reliving some of our favorite looks from the annual fundraiser-cum-photo-op.

While last year’s affair witnessed some particularly show-stopping ensembles (Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, and Kim Kardashian being frontrunners for best-dressed), this year’s theme — Gilded Glamour, a nod to the Gilded Age — is an opportunity for attendees to go all out.

Team Highsnobiety remembers the times celebrities stuck to the Met Gala theme, ignored it, or totally rewrote it — all while looking fabulous (or at least unique).

Morgan Smith, Style Writer

The year was 2014, and the Met Gala’s theme was Charles James: Beyond Fashion, which called for a white-tie dress code – the formal-est of formal dress codes.

Rihanna’s Stella McCartney look might not be what late designer Charles James had in mind, but that’s the beauty of Rih’s Met Gala ‘fits — we all want to see the Bad Gal’s spin on the night’s theme, no matter how off-topic she goes.

She checked the box for white-tie’s full-length dress requirement, but she did it her way with a two-piece set complete with a sassy — or savage, I should say — open back top and draped, floor-gracing skirt. It’s no wonder she went on in June of that year to claim her CFDA Fashion Icon Award.

Sam Cole, Associate Style Editor

Have you ever rocked up to a fancy dress party in your civilian clothes? I’ll hold my hands up and admit guilt — I might even take pride in it, too.

As a now self-confessed antagonist of themed parties (I’m fun, promise), it’d be wrong of me not to pick Frank Ocean’s 2019 Met Gala look.

Although the theme was Camp: Notes on Fashion, Ocean decided to serve working the doors meets data analyst commuting to work in a Prada anorak, white shirt, and tie. Camping? Perhaps. Camp? Probably not.

If you’ve ever flipped the bird to a theme, you know that being the only one not in “costume” comes with a lot side-eye, so I salute our Frank for keeping it casual.

Tora Northman, News Editor

There’s something about Sarah Jessica Parker attending the Met Gala with Lee Alexander McQueen that perfectly captures 2006 in fashion.

At the time, McQueen was one of industry’s biggest designers — yet Parker recalls him being incredibly shy at the event, despite his enormous talent and countless accolades.

Still, the designer and SJP turned up in some of the night’s most attention-grabbing looks, tartan and tulle ensembles designed by McQueen (shining examples of the night’s theme, AngloMania).

Following the designer’s tragic passing, SJP wore an archival McQueen gown to the 2011 Gala honoring Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, a retrospective of his career and body of work — an emotional, full-circle moment for the actor and onlookers.

Alexandra Pauly, Style Writer

Anja Rubik’s 2012 Met Gala look caused quite a stir in the blogosphere (remember fashion blogging?). Keep in mind, this was way before Bella Hadid hit the red carpet in dresses with crotch-high leg slits. It was also the tail-end of the supermodel era, in which most big faces were born of non-famous parents and scouted on the street.

By 2012, Rubik had cemented herself as a fashion great. In fact, her decision to wear Anthony Vaccarello (and such a show-stopping dress at that) helped launch his career, eventually landing him a gig at Versace.

It was a big moment for Vaccarello, yes — but even more so for blondes, black eye makeup, and the human body.

Jake Silbert, News Editor

There are legendary Met Gala moments and then there’s this truly insane December 1999 appearance from lumpy action creep Steven Seagal, who will surely never again grace Anna Wintour’s red carpet for as long as he lives.

I can’t even wrap my head around seeing “Steven Seagal” and “Met Gala” in the same sentence, even though the 1999 edition had a “Rock Style” theme, whatever that means. Other attendees included musicians like Whitney Houston and Liv Tyler, so perhaps Seagal only got the invite due to his side gig as a fascinatingly awful blues guitarist.

Either way, Seagal was apparently still somewhat respectable enough in late ’99 that he managed to snag an invite to fashion’s biggest night. So, naturally, Seagal shows up in a doubly offensive outfit: not only does his satin dragon-printed jacket smack of cultural appropriation, but Seagal also thought to pair his doofy pink outerwear with a yellow shirt, stonewashed jeans, and signature greasy ponytail.

It’s visually upsetting, yes, but the fact that Seagal was within 100 miles of the red carpet, let alone at the same event as Charlize Theron, Matt Dillon, and Iman, makes for an incredibly fascinating oddity in the Met Gala’s legacy.

Caroline Brown, Branded Content Editor

From her glittery Versace look (1995) to her decision to skip the Met Gala for snubbing Azzedine Alaïa (2009), Naomi Campbell has always known how to make a statement using fashion.

Among her most impactful moments is Campbell’s ‘fit for the 2001 Gala, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years.

That night, the majority of attendees dressed elegantly for Jackie O’s decade, opting for high-neck silk dresses and white gloves—two of the former First Lady’s wardrobe staples. Campbell, on the other hand, decided to channel Jackie’s spirit instead.

Attending with a ripped-jean’ed Stefano Gabbana, Campbell wore a Madonna-inspired black shirt that read “Like A Virgin,” paired with a sheer skirt and an oversized rosary. While the look wasn’t exactly White House-appropriate, Campbell stayed true to her own legacy by bringing a much-needed dose of authenticity to fashion’s biggest night out.

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