The best Met Gala looks of all time: 47 major fashion moments from the red carpet

From a gloriously 1980s Cher in Bob Mackie to Rihanna in, well, everything ...

The Met Gala began in 1948 as a fundraising dinner for The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At first, it was a fairly subdued affair, with no red carpet in sight: it was more about society types in cocktail dresses making small talk and hopefully getting out their chequebooks.

But in the mid-1970s, fashion editor Diana Vreeland came on to the scene, and it evolved into the celebrity-filled fashion smorgasbord we know today. Annual themes were introduced in 1973, and that's when we started to see actual costume play.

Vogue US editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, now synonymous with the event, became involved in 1995. Even then, the museum's stairs were grey and bare until the mid-2000s. That's when the production of the event really ramped up a notch, with the entire staircase turned into an extravagant flower-filled red carpet year on year.

However, in 2020, the first Monday in May witnessed no Met Gala. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the fashion spectacle was cancelled.

It wasn't the first time the event was postponed, either. In 1963, it was cancelled following the assassination of then president John F Kennedy, and there was no gala in 2002, after the September 11 attacks.

Now, the gala is preparing to make a return for 2021, though the usual May date has been pushed back to September for the first time in its history, in the hope many Covid-19 restrictions would be lifted by then. The glitzy soiree will take place next Monday, with poet Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish, actor Timothee Chalamet and tennis player Naomi Osaka acting as the night's co-chairs.

This year's theme is In America: a Lexicon of Fashion.

In anticipation of the return of fashion's big night out, we've looked back into the archives to revisit some of the greatest red carpet gowns worn to galas past.

Scroll through the gallery above to see some of the best Met Gala dresses from years gone by, from the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and more.

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