The 2024 Met Gala: From Stunning Gowns to Outrageous Outfits, Charting the Sartorial History of Fashion’s Biggest Night

Met Gala

Demi Moore rocked the red carpet at the 2024 Met Gala in a custom Harris Reed sculptural dress made of wallpaper that took 11,000 hours to embroider. Photo:Matt Crossick/PA Images/Getty Images

The Met Gala, the Super Bowl of Fashion, is held the first Monday in May. Since Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, 74, took over as chair of the event, which raises funds for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, in 1995, the celebrity wattage has become stratospheric. Things have also become distinctly costumey, as celebrities and their stylists try to one-up each other. Many guests now have to arrive standing up, in vans, to accommodate their voluminous outfits (see: Demi Moore, 61, dressed by Canadian stylist Brad Goreski, in a custom Harris Reed sculptural dress made of wallpaper that took 11,000 hours to embroider.) Singer Tyla took it a step further, wearing a Balmain dress made of sand: she had to be lifted up each of the famous entry streps.

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Singer Tyla wore a Balmain dress made entirely out of sand – a nod to the sands of time. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue/Getty Images


Fashion designer Tom Ford, 62, lamented the direction of the Met Gala in 2022 to journalist Amy Odell in her biography on Wintour: “The only thing about the Met that I wish hadn’t happened is that it has turned into a costume party. That used to just be very chic people wearing very beautiful clothes to go to an exhibit about the 18th century.” You didn’t have to dress like a hamburger, he said, with his typical sharp-edged tongue. Ford himself made a subtle jab at the new owners of his eponymous label, Estee Lauder Companies, when he chose to wear a Saint Laurent velvet tux instead.

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Tom Ford, in a velvet dinner jacket by Anthony Vaccarello, the creative director of Saint Laurent.  Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


The Met Gala was always glittering, dating back to its first iteration in 1974. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor came to the first gala, at which the former Mrs. Simpson wore white opera gloves. Meanwhile, at the same event, Jackie O and her sister Lee Radziwell rubbed elbows with Bianca Jagger all three perfection in classic black gowns. Cher made waves in a nude dress four decades before the current trend to see-through fashion, which was over-represented on this year’s carpet (see, Kim Kardashian in an extreme wasp-waist metal corset with transparent fabric showing off her famous behind; the outfit was Maison Margiela by John Galliano. Rita Ora also revealed all in sheer Marni).

Cher making waves in a nude dress at the inaugural Met Gala in 1974 (Photo: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images); Kim Kardashian at this year’s gala, also in a barely-there gown. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


Princess Diana attended the gala in 1996 after her divorce, wearing a lingerie-inspired Dior gown. It was fashion forward but not costume, notwithstanding her stunning signature pearl-tiered choker. The year before, supermodel triumvirate Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Christie Turlington all wore that 90s evening wear staple: the slipdress. Chic in its simplest distillation.

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Princess Diana in a navy blue slip dress – from John Galliano’s first collection as the creative director of Dior –  at the 1996 Met Gala. Photo: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
More slip-dresses from the 90s supermodel trio Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the 1995 Met Gala. Photo: Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage


The party has always been themed to the exhibit, but as Ford pointed out, the dress code is a new addition. This year’s exhibit, Sleeping Beauty: Reawakening Fashion, came with the dress code The Garden of Time. Somewhat open-ended, but most people went with either a literal garden/flower direction, or with vintage or re-worked vintage. 

A showstopper was Nicole Kidman, always a red-carpet stunner, who wore custom Balenciaga by Demna Gvasalia which riffed off a 1951 design by the house’s founder, Cristobal Balenciaga. The sleek strapless white gown was lifted at the front to reveal cascades of black ruffles.

Nicole Kidman wowed in a custom black and white Balenciaga gown. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


Wintour herself eschewed her usual Chanel (last year’s gala was a tribute to her good friend the late Karl Lagerfeld), choosing instead Loewe. The Spanish label, which boasts young Northern Irish design star Jonathon Anderson as its Creative Director, is having a moment, which was underscored by Wintour’s choice of the floral coat she wore on top of a very simple white gown. Pronounced Lo-way-vee, the label dressed a number of stars for the event, from Canadian Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy to Ariana Grande.

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Vogue editor-in-chief and co-chair of the night Anna Wintour wearing a dramatic floral Loewe coat by Jonathan Anderson over a white bridal-looking gown. Photo: Kevin Mazur/MG24/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue/Getty Images
Canadian actor and writer Dan Levy also wore floral Loewe to the garden-themed gala. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images


There were also some throwback faces in the crowd, with actress Meg Ryan, 62, showing up for the first time in two decades, choosing a see-through Michael Kors gown with floral embellishment. Uma Thurman, 54, wore Tory Burch, who made her a periwinkle gown modelled after an extinct butterfly.

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Meg Ryan attends the Met Gala for the first time since 2001, wearing a black Michael Kors gown. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images


Perennial Met Gala star Sarah Jessica Parker, 59, did not disappoint fans of her Sex and the City alter-ego Carrie Bradshaw, wearing a birdcage dress by British designer Richard Quinn along with a grand swooping hat. Singer Shakira, 47, having recently emerged from a searing divorce with an accompanying breakup album, went as a giant red rose in a Carolina Herrara gown. Also dressed as a flower, Kris Jenner, 68, went for all white in Oscar de la Renta.

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Kris Jenner in a dreamy all-white ensemble by Oscar de la Renta. Photo: Kevin Mazur/MG24/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue


But our favourite look of the night was on a Canadian who never thought she would have a Met Gala moment. Since her makeup-free statement front row at Paris Fashion Week, however, Pamela Anderson has become a later-in-life style hero to many. For her first Met, the 56-year-old did wear makeup, albeit applied by the lightest of hands in the business, Pat McGrath. Her dress, also by Oscar de la Renta, was nude in tone and fell gracefully off her shoulders. The Canuck beauty also wore some 200 carats worth of pink lab-grown diamonds for Pandora, for which the actress is an ambassador.

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Pamela Anderson made her Met Gala debut in an ethereal Oscar de la Renta gown. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)


Things were definitely toned down from past years (see Katy Perry’s hamburger dress at the Met Gala afterparty of 2019, as referenced by Ford above). But the theme dressing may well be more forced than helpful to attendees. We know that Wintour has an iron grip on the guest list, and that she values celebrities who are of the moment more than old-fashioned society stalwarts. The number of Kardashians in attendance goes up and down over time, but the first family of reality TV was still well represented last night with three of the famous sisters and mom. But I agree with Ford, that a little bit more elegance would elevate the conversation more than a buzzy theme and stunt dressing.

That said, director Sofia Coppola, 52, has always been a fashion force. Last night she made an interesting choice: a simple Chanel suit. In its simplicity, and its slightly awkward length long tweed jacket over long sheer skirt Coppola stood out among all the oversized flowers. 

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Sofia Coppola stood out among all the oversized flowers in a simple Chanel suit. Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images


She was channelling upper east side matron, and that, ironically, is what made it fashionable: Coppola is the original and eternal cool girl. Her side parted blow out could also not have been simpler more soccer mom or lady who lunches than Hollywood and I mean that in a really complimentary way. 

In a sea of people trying really hard, Coppola looked comfortable and like herself. That’s cool. And that’s fashion.