The Met Gala Themes Over the Years: A Look Back at Every Event Since 1971

A trip down memory lane ahead of the 2023 Met Gala

GettyImages 1401719962 3 e1681253793908
Getty Images

We’re just a few short weeks away from the highly anticipated 2023 Met Gala, the theme of which is a tribute to the late great Karl Lagerfield. Established in 1948 by fashion expert Eleanor Lambert to raise money for the then newly-founded Costume Institute, the Met Gala has since become the most prestigious and perhaps exclusive fashion event of the year. Now helmed by Anna Wintour (a position she has held since 1995), the Met Gala is attended by the top names in the fashion and entertainment industries, and you must have an invite from Anna Wintour herself in order to get in. If you’re on the journalism side of things and looking to cover the event, well, only 225 media spots are allotted.

Adding to the prestigious nature, there’s no social media recordings allowed inside of the Met Gala either, and things are kept top secret pretty much until people start walking the red carpet.

RELATED: 15 of Our Favorite Met Gala-Inspired Rap Lyrics

Screen Shot 2023 04 10 at 3.14.41 PM
Lenny Kravitz at the 2022 Met Gala / Getty Images

With 2023’s official theme being titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” we expect to see many tributes to the brilliant German designer’s decades-long career throughout the evening. In the meantime, here’s a throwback to all of the different Met Gala themes over the years. 

2022: "Gilded Glamour "

GettyImages 1395049887
Getty Images

"Gilded Glamor" was the theme of the 2022 Met Gala, which was all about opulence, fame, and excellence. The event was co-chaired by Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and saw celebrities like Meg The Stallion, Venus Williams, and Lenny Kravitz turn up.

2021: "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion"

demna category
Getty Images

The 2021 Met Gala aka the year that Kim Kardashian showed up literally covered from head to toe (we still haven't figured out how she was able to see). The theme was "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion", which was the finale of a two-part exhibit chronicling sartorial narratives in American fashion, and the honorary chairs for the evening were Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Naomi Osaka and Amanda Gorman, making them the co-chairs ever selected.

The 2021 Met Gala was also the first to be held after the start of the pandemic, with the 2020 Met being cancelled.

2019: "Camp: Notes on Fashion "

GettyImages 1147434830
Getty Images

2019's theme was "Camp: Notes on Fashion," which paid homage to Susan Sontag's essay on aesthetics. Everybody from Mary Kate and Ashley to Katy Perry hit the red carpet that year, with the co-chairs being Harry Styles, Serena Williams, former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, and Lady Gaga.

2018: "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination"

GettyImages 955802700
Getty Images

The celebrities got creative for "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" in 2018, which had many celebs in attendance including Chadwick Boseman, Zendaya, and Ariana Grande. The co-chairs of the 2018 event were Rihanna, Amal Clooney, and Donatella Versace.

2017: "Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between"

GettyImages 680445358
Getty Images

The 2017 Met Gala paid tribute to the iconic fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, with Rihanna, Zendaya, and the Kardashian's being amongst the celebs in attendance. The co-chairs that year were Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady.

2016: "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology"

GettyImages 529046736
Getty Images

With 2016's theme being "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology," Beyoncé and Selena Gomez were among the attendees that year. Taylor Swift and Idris Elba had the honors of being the co-chairs alongside Wintour, making it one of the more memorable Met Gala's in recent history.

2015: "China: Through the Looking Glass"

GettyImages 473029744
Getty Images

The theme of the 2015 Met Gala was "China: Through the Looking Glass," which was a celebration of China's influence on Western fashion. Some of the celebrities in attendance that year were Rihanna, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Anne Hathaway, with the co-chairs being Lawrence, Gong Li, former President and CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer, and businesswoman Wendi Murdoch.

2014: "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"

GettyImages 488351899
Getty Images

The 2014 Met was all about Charles James, showcasing his extensive catalog of sculptural work with a display of 100 of his most influential designs. The event was co-chaired by Oscar de la Renta, Bradley Cooper, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

2013: "2013—Punk: Chaos to Couture"

GettyImages 1435486201
Getty Images

Punk was theme of 2013 as Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Beyoncé were several of the celebs who were a part of the festivities that year. The 2013 Met featured Queen Bey as an honorary co-chair alongside Riccardo Tisci, Lauren Santo Domingo, and Rooney Mara.

All the Met Gala Themes Over the Years:

  • 2012 - Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations
  • 2011 - Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
  • 2010 - American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity
  • 2009 - The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion
  • 2008 - Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
  • 2007 - Poiret: King of Fashion
  • 2006 - AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion
  • 2005 - The House of Chanel
  • 2004 - Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century
  • 2003 - Goddess: The Classical Mode
  • 2001 - Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years
  • 1999 - Rock Style
  • 1998 - Cubism and Fashion
  • 1997 - Gianni Versace
  • 1996 - Christian Dior
  • 1995 - Haute Couture
  • 1994 - Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress
  • 1993 - Diana Vreeland: Immoderate Style
  • 1992 - Fashion and History: A Dialogue
  • 1990 - Théâtre de la Mode – Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture
  • 1989 - The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789–1815
  • 1988 - From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837–1877
  • 1987 - In Style: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Costume Institute
  • 1986 - Dance
  • 1985 - Costumes of Royal India
  • 1984 - Man and the Horse
  • 1983 - Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design
  • 1982 - La Belle Époque
  • 1981 - The Eighteenth-Century Woman
  • 1980 -  The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of China, the Chi'ng Dynasty
  • 1979 - Fashions of the Habsburg Era: Austria-Hungary
  • 1978 - Diaghilev: Costumes and Designs of the Ballets Russes
  • 1977 - Vanity Fair
  • 1976 - The Glory of Russian Costume
  • 1975 - American Women of Style
  • 1974 - Romantic and Glamorous Hollywood Design
  • 1973 - The World of Balenciaga
  • 1972 - Untailored Garments
  • 1971 - Fashion Plate

The 2023 Met Gala will take place on Monday May 1st, 2023, and the theme will be "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty."

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down