Met Gala: The Most Outrageous Outfits Of All Time

One of the most anticipated red carpet events of the year, the Costume Institute Gala, more commonly called the Met Gala, is an annual fundraiser for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. Attended by around 500 people, highly sought-after invitations to this themed event in New York City costs start at $30,000. Every year the theme is announced ahead of time, and our favorite celebrities end up serving us with breathtaking looks. This extravagant affair is all about high fashion. 


Met Gala outfits have the power to launch the career of designers and stylists and cement the style status of a celebrity. A wrong move could very easily translate to endless trolling from fashion fanatics. Naturally, quite a bit of thought, time, and dollars are involved in Met Gala outfits.

Each year, ensembles range from subtle to outrageous. Celebrities from Katy Perry to Kim Kardashian have been at the center of some serious attention thanks to their wild outfit choices at past galas. Take a look at some of the most over-the-top Met Gala gowns of all time.

2013: Madonna's cheeky ensemble

Madonna is not one to subscribe to limiting societal ideals of acceptable behavior and has always been one to push the boundaries. At the 2013 Met Gala, she served in nearly bottomless look E! News labeled "jaw-dropping." The Queen of Pop opted for torn fishnets, a very mini suit dress, and pink heels. Styled by former Givenchy creative director and that year's co-host Riccardo Tisci, Madonna accessorized her fit with leather gloves, a statement belt, metal studs, and a black wig reminiscent of Mia Wallace's 'do in "Pulp Fiction"


As reported by Vogue, Madonna told the reporters on the carpet, "I wanted to do my own thing, but put my own twist on it." The era of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen from the '70s was the inspiration behind the look. Though controversial, the ensemble was on point with the "Punk: Chaos to Couture" theme of the year. Further fueling criticism, Madonna arrived late to the event.

2013: Miley Cyrus' fishnet number and spiked hair

While Miley Cyrus' 2013 Met Gala outfit was not quite as eye-catching as Madonna's she drew quite a few eyeballs with her hairdo. The "Flowers" singer who was then in her grunge era and was often spotted sporting slicked-back hair and Doc Martens, surprised fans with her gravity-defying hair.


Even though her outfit — a Marc Jacobs fishnet gown over a nude slip — fit the punk theme of the year, the hair was just too outrageous for many to get behind, with fans and publications comparing the "Hannah Montana" star to Angelica's Cynthia doll from "Rugrats." 

The sudden switch from her usual style, the overall mediocrity of the outfit, and the minimal eye makeup combined with the bleached, spiked hair just wasn't Cyrus' best look. But let's cut her some slack – this was the Disney star's Met Gala debut. Her later looks have been stellar.

2014: Lupita Nyong'o's Christmas tree look

While the "Black Panther" star is the fashion darling of many, Lupita Nyong'o's 2014 Met Gala appearance was considered her "first fashion misstep" by some. We'd have to agree.

The actor showed up to the gala, themed "Charles James: Beyond Fashion," in a feathered, beaded mesh green dress designed by Prada. The actor accessorized the dress with a bold matching headband. While the outfit was definitely not one of her best looks, she may have put a lot of thought into it.


In his prime, Charles James dressed upper-class white Americans. As Los Angeles Times' Booth Moore pointed out, "Women such as Nyong'o certainly wouldn't have been privy to Charles James designs." Perhaps, then, this outrageous ensemble was a deliberate choice. Moore posited, "[It was] like something African American showgirl Josephine Baker would have worn in James' era, when she fled segregated America for fame and fortune in France."

2014: Sarah Jessica Parker's autographed gown

Sarah Jessica Parker is arguably the most on-theme celebrity in the history of the Met Gala. A lot of effort and thought go into the "Sex and the City" star's looks. As Parker told Vogue, "Whenever I go to the Met, I don't understand how everyone else didn't spend seven to 10 months working on it. I'm like, how do you not arrive exhausted by the details of getting it right?"


In 2014, she opted for a color-blocked duchess satin Oscar de La Renta gown featuring a black bodice, white skirt, lattice train, and white gloves. This sounds normal enough for the Met Gala, but the train of the gown featured something no one else in attendance ever had and never will have — Oscar de La Renta's autograph in scarlet silk thread.

As Parker told Vogue, this gown was the last piece that the designer worked on and he needed to be talked into signing the gown. She explained that he was happy that they talked him into doing it as his modesty wouldn't have allowed him to do so otherwise.

2015: Rihanna's 50-pound gown

The theme of the 2015 Met Gala was "China: Through the Looking Glass," which featured the work of many Chinese designers and artists. The most outrageous of the year's outfits was Rihanna's painfully extravagant gown by Guo Pei. "I love this dress so much! It's Chinese couture and it's made by Guo Pei. It's handmade by one Chinese woman and it took her two years to make. I found it online," Riri told Vanity Fair. The dress reportedly cost more than $680,000.


As Pei told The Cut, the gold gown took more than 50,000 hours to bring to life. "The focus and the attention paid to this dress will make it remembered by the world — I want is to make them remember," Pei said. She also revealed the intentional color choices behind the look. "It's gold because the color expresses energy and power," the designer explained. "It's the color of the sun in midday." Pei went on to say that the core value of her work is not rooted in profit but in her desire to make the rich cultural tradition of China known to the rest of the world. This collaboration definitely put Guo Pei on the map.

2015: Sarah Jessica Parker's insensitive ensemble

While the 2015 Met Gala theme was monumental in bringing the works of lesser-known Chinese artists to the forefront, some looks bordered on cultural appropriation. The most outrageous look was worn by Sarah Jessica Parker. The "Sex And The City" star walked the red carpet in a dress designed in collaboration with H&M and a red headpiece designed by Irish milliner Philip Treacy.


The headpiece drew criticism for propagating the harmful Asian Dragon Lady stereotype. This stereotype has been used since its origin in the 1930s to villanize strong Asian women. The dragon lady is portrayed as a woman who is deceitful and uses her sex appeal to get what she wants. This character trope was liberally employed in Hollywood and contributed its to the hypersexualization of Asian women. While Parker is typically known for being spot-on with themed Met Gala outfits, this look missed the mark in a big way.

2016: Lady Gaga's leotard look

Lady Gaga certainly isn't afraid to make a statement with her fashion choices. Throughout the years, she has shown up at the Met steps ready to impress. Even though the Met Gala has seen quite a few pantless looks from various artists, including Madonna, Lady Gaga's 2016 bodysuit look is arguably the most iconic. Gaga took it up a notch by fully embracing the theme of that year's gala, "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology."


The "Born This Way" singer decided to trade in pants for a Versace corset leotard, embellished power-shouldered metallic blazer, fishnet stockings, and sky-high platform boots. Along with her signature voluminous platinum blonde hair and a bold red lip, she was serving quite the look. Even at the after-party, she stuck with the theme, changing into a structured metallic mini dress resembling a hologram and metallic platform boots. 

2016: Ivanka Trump's Republican red gown

At the Met Gala themed "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology," Ivanka Trump showed up wearing a caped, wide-legged, halterneck red jumpsuit by Ralph Lauren. She accessorized her ensemble with items from her own collection, including gold bangles and a sparkly clutch. The problem? This look was nowhere near the theme of the 2016 Met Gala, and some regarded the jumpsuit as political messaging. 


The outfit, which was in the official color of the Republican Party, was seen as a nod to her father Donald Trump's presidential bid. As such, Vogue dubbed the gown one of "the most controversial outfits in Met Gala history." Ivanka's appearance at the 2016 event was the last ever Met Gala appearance by a Trump family member. Although Ivanka's father and stepmother, Melania Trump, have attended in years past, Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief and chairwoman of the Met Gala, revealed on "The Late Late Show" in 2018  that she would never invite Donald back to the event.

2017: Priyanka Chopra's trench coat dress

The 2017 Met Gala was themed "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between," which meant we got to see some great avant-garde outfits. However, Priyanka Chopra's outrageous train stole the show. The Bollywood-turned-Hollywood darling showed up at the gala looking like a chic detective in a Ralph Lauren trenchcoat gown featuring a popped collar. She accessorized the look with black boots, statement earrings, and an updo."It was all about wanting to bring her in and give her drama, and to pair her with one of the most legendary, iconic, American designers like Ralph Lauren," Cristina Ehrlich, Chopra's stylist, told Women's Wear Daily.


The "Quantico" star made the appearance with her then-rumored boyfriend, now husband, Nick Jonas. And as Vogue reported, it took "2 assistants, 1 bus, and a Jonas brother" to get Chopra from the hotel lobby to the Met Gala entrance. The elaborate dress was quickly converted into a mini dress for the after-parties, though. 

2017: Kendall Jenner's barely there gown

At the 2018 Met Gala, model Kendall Jenner showed up in a La Pearla creation that was essentially tens of thousands of crystals held together by nothing but string. "The entire gown is made from one piece of string," Julia Haart, the La Perla creative director who made Jenner's dress, told Elle. "It's a very strong, very flexible, incredibly thin piece of nylon, and we've strung 85,000 crystals onto it." The other element of the dress, the black bodice, was painted by hand.


While Jenner's gown looked simple, it was the result of artisans from across the globe and a handful of engineers who had to figure out a way to make it work. Haart also revealed that her idea was dismissed as impossible when she came up with it. "Of course, that just made me want to do it more," she revealed to Elle. 

2018: Rihanna's Pope getup

The 2018 Met Gala, themed "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," featured many items loaned by the Vatican. Now, Rihanna is not a stranger when it comes to serving over-the-top looks that adhere to the literal definition of "outrageous," but she may have taken the cake in 2018.


The singer essentially cosplayed the high-fashion version of the Pope while also co-hosting the gala. Her look was designed by John Galliano, creative director at Maison Margiela. It featured a bejeweled mini dress and robe encrusted with pearls along with a matching papal mitre, according to Harper's Bazaar. Rihanna paired the ensemble with Christian Louboutin heels and Cartier jewelry. 

The look, although, iconic received mixed responses from the public. While Riri's ensemble was on theme, some expressed concerns about it being insensitive, labeling her outfit and others like it "religious appropriation." As one person tweeted, "As a practicing Catholic, this is offensive to me. My Faith is not your fashion."


2018: Cardi B's gaudy gown with matching headpiece

Another celebrity who takes the Met Gala theme as seriously as a final assessment in school is Cardi B. In her first-ever appearance at the annual event, the heavily-pregnant star appeared in a dramatic Jeremy Scott original Moschino gown. The gown featured a plunging neckline, a dramatic thigh slit, and a long, regal train. The gown was adorned with sapphires and rubies and matched an over-the-top headpiece, choker, and ornate gloves. Surprisingly, the headpiece was created in just a few days, as the singer didn't think she wanted to wear one until the event drew nearer. Scott told Vogue that the rest of the look took nearly 34,000 hours to complete.


Cardi B's larger-than-life look definitely adhered to the "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" theme and it glamorously displayed her pregnant silhouette. "When you see my look, I feel like you don't just see a pregnant woman," Cardi B told Vogue. "I feel like you see royal-goddess-woman-motherhood."

2019: Katy Perry working chandelier ensemble

The theme of the 2019 Met Gala was "Camp: Notes on Fashion," which blessed us with some exaggerated and intentionally tacky outfits. Katy Perry took camp to the next level when she showed up at the Met in a silver bejeweled Moschino dress designed by Jeremy Scott, which was encased in a working chandelier.


The "Roar" singer's outfit featured two rows of lit-up candle-style bulbs and a matching headpiece. According to The New York Times, the chandelier headpiece alone weighed 40 pounds. When asked how she was going to sit down, Perry joked, "You don't sit down at the Met." She then walked away humming Sia's 2014 number, "Chandelier."

"Who has ever been to a ball that did not have a chandelier?!," Scott asked Vogue when quizzed about his thought process behind the look. "The idea of elegance itself is quite camp and I wanted to play with that concept, poke a lil [little] fun at it with a loving nudge," the designer said, revealing that his team spent six weeks applying thousands of Swarovski crystals onto the dress. 


2019: Cardi B's 44-carat ruby nipple covers

Cardi B never fails to woo us with her Met Gala appearances. In 2019, she showed up in a custom Thom Browne creation. The female body was the designer's inspiration behind this look. "I designed this dress for Cardi specifically because she has the ultimate beauty in a woman's body, and that is what the dress is about for me: taking advantage of that beauty," Browne told Vogue.


The oxblood, high-neck, over-the-top tulle and silk organza gown extended more than 10 feet around. The numbers behind this look are truly outrageous. It took nearly three dozen people over 2,000 hours to make, according to Vogue. And it didn't end there. The outfit is hand-decorated with more than 30,000 feathers. The bodice featured custom Stefere Jewelry 44-carat ruby nipple covers. This part of the ensemble alone had a price tag of a quarter-million dollars. 

2021: Kim Kardashian's black-out Balenciaga number

Kim Kardashian is one of the most controversial figures in modern history. Since her first Met Gala appearance in 2013 — when her floral print look was compared to all kinds of household furnishing ranging from curtains to carpets – she has commanded attention. At the 2021 Met Gala, she confused fans by appearing at the "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion" themed gala in an outfit that was reminiscent of a blackout curtain. She was dressed in a Balenciaga t-shirt fashioned into a mini dress, a bodysuit designed by Balenciaga's creative director Demna Gvasalia, a face mask, and a pair of black heels.


What made the outfit even more outrageous was the reality TV star's extravagant hairdo — a 75-inch ponytail — that complemented the look. Kardashian's hairstylist Chris Appleton revealed on Instagram Stories that the super-long 'do cost a whopping $10,000 due to the number of extensions required.

2021: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's statement gown

In 2021, United States representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up to the Met Gala in a custom Brother Vellies ivory wool and organza dress featuring the phrase "tax the rich" in blood-red lettering across the back. She completed the look by reiterating her statement with a red purse featuring the same phrase written in white.


Naturally, Republicans didn't take kindly to the ensemble. "The 'tax the rich' dress while she's hanging out with a bunch of wealthy leftwing elites or the lack of masks after spending the past 18 months as one of the biggest authoritarian mask Karens in the country?" Donald Trump Jr. tweeted.

The dress also received mixed responses within AOC's own political circles. "If she had chosen to highlight a message that wasn't already so broadly well received, then her act would have been seen as more subversive," Briahna Gray, former national press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign, told The New York Times

2022: Lizzo's gilded ensemble

In 2022, the "About Damn Time" singer climbed the steps of the Met looking like a vision. Lizzo was dressed in a black gown with intricate gold embroidery — and she even brought a flute. "I'm in Thom Browne, and it's hugging my curves just right. I look amazing!" Lizzo announced at the event.


The entire ensemble was created with over a dozen materials, including a corset dress in black silk moire and coat in black duchess satin, according to Insider. The coat alone 22,000 hours to complete. The flute Lizzo brought to the event, known as "Dryad's Touch," cost more than $55,000.

Of the dress, Browne told Vogue, "It's one of the most beautiful things I have done for someone. It's something worthy of someone as special as Lizzo." While the creation was certainly outrageous, Lizzo pulled it off and fit the theme of "Gilded Glamour."

2022: Kim Kardashian's Marilyn Monroe moment

In 2022, Kim Kardashian contracted the wrath of fashion history enthusiasts when she decided to attend the Met Gala in the iconic dress that Marilyn Monroe wore while singing "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy in 1962. To squeeze into the dress that was made to fit Monroe's figure, Kardashian dieted and exercised extensively. Even then, the zipper wouldn't close and it was eventually decided that Kardashian would cover the gap with a white fur stole during her red carpet appearance. 


The outrage intensified when Scott Fortner, a Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collector and authenticator, took to Instagram to share the state of the dress after the event. The fabric appeared to be torn with some crystals missing and others loose. The revelation saw emotional responses from Monroe fans who called out the insensitivity of the publicity stunt. "Marilyn was used all her life, she hardly had anything that was truly her own. This dress, it was hers. It was designed specifically and ONLY for her. Now it's ruined," one fan tweeted.

However, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, which lent the dress to Kardashian, has denied claims that Kardashian ruined the gown. "Kim Kardashian's walk up the Metropolitan Museum's stairs at this year's Met Gala has caused quite the stir, but one thing it did not directly cause is the reported damage to Marilyn Monroe's famed 'Happy Birthday' dress from 1962," Ripley's shared in an Instagram post.


2023: Anna Wintour's lampshade cosplay

The theme of the 2023 Met Gala was "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty," which means we got to see many vintage pieces associated with the German fashion designer. But, this theme was also controversial and frowned upon by many people inside and outside the fashion industry. Despite being an icon in fashion history, Lagerfeld has made some pretty misogynist comments disapproving of #MeToo, body positivity, and the feminist movements. 


The year's chief sponsor of the gala's exhibition is Chanel, where Lagerfeld spent most of the bright years of his career. So we got to see a ton of vintage Chanel looks. A less-than-ideal look was from the gala's chairwoman and Lagerfeld's personal friend, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour herself! Wintour chose a Chanel design from their 2023 spring season. Yes, not vintage and not Karl Lagerfeld at all!

Her evening coat ensemble featured hand-embroidered gray, black, white, and yellow flowers and a structured hemline. The white skirt-like slip bottom that she chose to pair her outfit with was also not very on point and just added to the whole outfit looking like a lampshade. Naturally, people weren't very impressed with Wintour's mediocre choice. "It's amazing how she never manages to serve at her own event," one commentator wrote on Twitter.


2023: Michaela Coel's shimmery ensemble

While the years might have warranted less shine and shimmer, the co-chair of the 2023 Met Gala and "Black Panther" star Michaela Cole didn't seem to care. She grazed the steps of the Met in a body-con, almost sheer, full-sleeved gown embellished with more than 130,000 crystals perfectly complementing her beautiful silhouette from Schiaparelli. The crystals were perfectly arranged to form multiple shapes, including stars in the torso area, leaves throughout her arms, and chains in the bottom half.


Cole also opted for a gold and diamond necklace to highlight the neck of the gown. She added multiple other pieces of statement jewelry, including chunky gold earrings, rings, and pointed golden heels to complete the look. The minimal makeup featuring nude lips and shiny eyeshadow that perfectly compliments her skin tone and the cornrow braids made the look a fan favorite. Like this fan who wrote on Twitter: "Tell everyone to turn around. Go back home. Michaela Cole won."