Best Met Gala looks of all time: 51 major fashion moments from the red carpet

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

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The Met Gala began in 1948 as a fund-raising 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.

This year, the event returns to form after it was cancelled in 2020 and delayed until September in 2021, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Set to take place Monday, May 2, fashion's most famous faces are preparing to walk the red carpet in flamboyant creations, designed for the event.

This year's theme is Gilded Glamour. A theme that evokes visions of New York’s golden age between 1870 and 1890, when it was flush with newfound fortunes.

Regina King, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Lin-Manuel Miranda will be official co-chairs of the event, while designer Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and Vogue’s Anna Wintour continue as honorary co-chairs.

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.