Spend some time in the archives of Met Galas past, and it becomes pretty obvious that while some celebrities merely attend the Gala and take the theme as a suggestion, others use the red carpet as an opportunity to steal the show. Or at least attempt to, anyway. For every celebrity who does their homework and nails the theme, there’s an antic that falls short of the mark, making an outfit memorable in a whole other kind of way. This year the Costume Institute’s theme and exhibit is “Camp: Notes on Fashion.” With the Gala just days away, we’re taking a look at the best Met Gala looks of all time: the good (Rihanna, always), the bad (Nicki Minaj strapping Rei Kawakubo’s face to her bodysuit), and the plain weird (Grimes and Elon Musk).
Most Meme-able: Rihanna, 2015
Most Out There: Madonna, 2016
The Queen of Pop’s dress, by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, left nothing to the imagination. The singer later declared on Instagram: “We have fought and continue to fight for civil rights and gay rights around the world. When it comes to Women’s rights we are still in the dark ages … The fact that people actually believe a woman is not allowed to express her sexuality and be adventurous past a certain age is proof that we still live in an age-ist and sexist society.”
Most Naked: Beyoncé, 2015
Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian West, and J.Lo all wore naked dresses to the 2015 Met Gala, cementing the rise of the couture body as a post-fashion trend. This dress was designed by Givenchy.
Best Mohawk: Sarah Jessica Parker, 2013
The theme was “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” The inspiration for SJP’s Giles Deacon look? The Spartan army, probably.
Most Electric: Miley Cyrus, 2013
Ever heard of Van de Graaff generators? A one-of-a-kind beauty look with a Marc Jacobs dress.
Most Matchy-Matchy: Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, 2016
You’ve reached new heights when you match your Fear of God ripped jeans to your contacts.
Best Accessory: Jaden Smith, 2018
After carrying his dreadlocks as an accessory at the 2017 Met Gala, when his sister Willow couldn’t make it as his date, Jaden Smith brought his accessory A-game again wearing Louis Vuitton with his Gold “Icon” record.
Second-Best Accessory: Katy Perry, 2018
Best Hair Game: Lupita Nyong’o, 2016
Lupita Nyong’o’s 2016 look was a tribute to her African heritage. After the Gala, the actress took to Instagram to set the record straight after Vogue compared her hairstyle to Audrey Hepburn. The dress was designed by Calvin Klein.
Best Daggers: Lana Del Rey, 2018
The singer emulated Our Lady of Sorrows in a Gucci dress, and looked like she had just walked out of a Renaissance painting.
Most Avian: Daphne Guinness, 2011
Daphne Guiness was a close friend of Alexander McQueen, so it was only fitting that she paid homage to the late designer for the Costume Institute’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibit wearing one of his feathered dresses.
Most Robotic: Zayn Malik With Gigi Hadid, 2016
Dressing for the future … in a Versace suit.
Most Lady Gaga: Lady Gaga, 2016
No one else could compete in this category. The singer, of course, wore Versace.
Most in Bloom: Frances McDormand, 2018
Frances McDormand’s Valentino Couture look didn’t quite fit the “Catholic Imagination” theme, but her attitude certainly made up for it. Try to find someone else who had more fun than the actress on this night. I’ll wait.
Most on-Theme: Cardi B, 2018
Nothing is more Catholic than going as an actual religious icon. In an elaborate Moschino dress, the rapper walked the red carpet alongside Jeremy Scott.
Most Likely to Whip a Horse: Bella Hadid, 2018
Patricia Lockwood said it best. The model’s dominatrix look was designed by Chrome Hearts.
Best Goth Tribute: Katy Perry, 2016
The singer wore a full-on Prada look, and you know what? No explanation necessary.
Best Interpretation of the Theme: Rihanna, 2018
Most Memorable Print: Kim Kardashian West, 2013
The year was 2013 and Kim Kardashian West was pregnant with her first child, North West. Almost as quickly as she stepped foot on the red carpet, the memes started flowing in, some comparing her body-hugging Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy dress to the floral couch found on your grandma’s house and Mary Poppins’s magic bag. Even Robin Williams compared her outfit to Mrs. Doubtfire’s dress.
Least Cold: Solange Knowles, 2017
While everyone else wore bare dresses, Solange looked cozy in a Thom Browne coat. Early May can get chilly in NYC, you know?
Most Hydrated: Madonna, 2017
Why bother with a flask when you can accessorize your camouflage Moschino gown with a canteen of rosé?
Most Cosmic: Solange Knowles, 2015
On this night, after walking the red carpet in a custom Giles dress, Solange tweeted: “It’s just fucking fashion. Have fun. Take risks. But mostly, have fun. : )” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Best Use of Lace: Marc Jacobs, 2012
Marc Jacobs said he wore this sheer black, lace Comme des Garcons dress because he didn’t want to “wear a tuxedo and be boring.” It caused a small controversy, but the dress eventually sold out on Barneys.
Shiniest Head: Cara Delevigne, 2017
The removal process for this silver paint could not have been fun, but you have to admire Cara Delevingne’s commitment. The suit is by Chanel.
Best Use of Armor: Zendaya, 2018
Most Silicon Valley: Grimes With Elon Musk, 2018
Elon Musk and Grimes used the 2018 Met Gala to make their debut as a couple, with outfits designed by Musk no less. A year later, we’re still trying to make sense of it and everything that came after.
Best Halo: Janelle Monáe, 2018
Janelle Monaé’s wide-brim Marc Jacobs hat is not your run-of-the-mill halo, but then again, she’s not a typical artist.
Best Party-in-the-Front, Business-in-the-Back Look: Nicki Minaj, 2017
Nicki Minaj’s H&M gown made people reconsider the rules.
Best Office-to-Night Look: Tessa Thompson, 2018
Best Use of Graffiti: Katy Perry
Do you think Jeremy Scott has ever read Harold and the Purple Crayon?