How The Met Gala Became The Cultural Phenomenon It Is Today

And just like that only eight months since the last one, the biggest fashion event for celebrities on the red carpet served once again on the first Monday of May.

Yes the Met Gala, and boy it did not disappoint.

This year’s theme was In America: An Anthology of Fashion – which could literally mean anything. But thankfully attendees were asked more specifically to dress to embody the Gilded Age of New York, a period from 1870 to 1890.

This Years’ Most Iconic Celebrity Looks

We had co-host Blake Lively who stunned in a copper green-blue dress, taking inspiration from the architectural history of New York City rather than the fashion history  and like every year she understood the assignment.

Riz Ahmed paid homage to immigrant workers who kept the Gilded Age going, sticking to the theme in a different way to Laura Harrier and Billie Eilish, who delivered looks in true Bridgerton style.

Gigi Hadid had fans mad for stepping out of her hotel in a latex corset, which thankfully was dressed up with a hulk sized jacket.

There was the guy who wasn’t Jared Leto but everyone thought he was, and Conan Gray who eloquently served us all in his shimmering get-up.

The entire Kardashian/Jenner sister clan attended this year, with Kimmy K famously arriving last as Marilyn Monroe, in what the actress wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr President” to JFK in 1962.

And just as pop culture commentator Emily Kirkpatrick said that “every year celebs prove that the only rule they’ll abide by is the law of looking hot” – her predictions came true. Sadly though, her prediction of Rihanna going into labour on the red carpet did not happen, as both ASAP and Rhi were a no-show.

History Of The Met

This star-studded occasion actually dates back to the late 1940s.

Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, who also launched New York fashion week, organised the first ever gala to raise money for the newly-founded Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It only cost a wild $50 to attend the dinner and it marked the opening of its annual exhibition which continues today, though behind closed doors once everyone has showed off their looks. Unless you’re Kendall or Kylie Jenner and sneakily offer rare glimpses of what unfolds on the iconic night thanks to bathroom selfies and disposable cameras.

Even though the Met Gala has been going since 1948, the Gala as we know it really began in 1999 – when (Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour started her reign as the annual chair.

The changes she made at the Met mirrored changes she was making at Vogue. At Vogue she put celebrities on the cover instead of models. At the Met she pushed out the old society ladies and put celebrities on a red carpet.

And Wintour’s 1999 theme “Rock Style” gave so many iconic looks.

A Lil Trip Down Memory Lane

Speaking of iconic, it would be rude to talk about the Met without taking a lil look back at our fav looks over the years.

Some themes have given us really memorable moments.

2015’s China Through The Looking Glass, where the Met risked accusations of cultural appropriation, gave us Rhi Rhi – Queen of the Met Gala – in a yellow dress that literally weighed 25 kilos and triggered a whole array of delicious memes.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>It’s not delivery, it’s <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Rihanna</a> at the <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MetGala</a>. <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; tommylei.eth (@my_belonging) <a href=””>May 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Mmmmm.. Lunch? ;)<a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MetGala</a> <a href=””>@rihanna</a> <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Fly FM 🇲🇾 (@FlyFM958) <a href=””>May 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>

And Camp in 2019 took everything to a new level. Jared Leto literally carried his own head. Lady Gaga had four outfit changes and absolutely bathed in the attention, and Billy Porter arrived Cleopatra style.

Also shoutout every Zendaya look ever because  let’s face it she knows how to work a red carpet and this year wasn’t the same without her.

Random side note but if you’ve also ever wondered why actress Kristen Stewart never seems to wow in her red carpet looks, it’s because she’s been stuck in an 8 year contract with Chanel and can’t seem to shake it. Poor Stewart.

The New York Times have called the Met Gala “reality TV at its most glamorous” and thanks to Twitter and Insta, our ability to enjoy from every angle has only gotten more and more turbo.

The content that followed Kim K’s Balenciaga morph suit last year, which gave us the “Kendall Jenner and her anxiety” meme, is the exact level we need.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>me and my anxiety when i go out <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MetGala</a> <a href=”;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#MetGala2021</a> <a href=”″></a></p>&mdash; kristen🌞 (@kristen_siebs) <a href=””>September 14, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src=”” charset=”utf-8″></script>