Met Gala Themes: Fashion Hits, Misses

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The 2018 Met gala had a divine theme with “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” Guests like Madonna, in Jean Paul Gaultier, and Rhianna, donning a Pope-inspired ensemble by Maison Margiela that included a papal mitre, rose to the occasion in their looks. Miley Cyrus may have missed the memo on “heavenly” because her backless Stella McCartney dress was positively sinful.
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Claire Danes lit up the red carpet, literally, at the 2016 "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" exhibition benefit in a one-of-a-kind Zac Posen gown crafted from organza and fiber optics. The "Homeland" actress looked like an intergalactic Cinderella in the high-tech garment.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology," brought plenty of silver and metallics to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum. The Costume Institute's spring 2016 exhibition explored how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear. And though most celebs interpreted that to mean metals, silver, and sequin embellishment, others — like model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, left, in Ralph Lauren, comedian Amy Schumer, center, in Alexander Wang, and model Emily Ratajkowski — appeared to ignore the theme altogether.
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Rihanna was one of the few celebrities to wear a creation by a Chinese designer for 2015's "China: Through The Looking Glass" theme. Guo Pei’s imperial yellow, fur-trimmed cape that was embroidered with scrolls and scrolls (and scrolls) of flora, shut down the red carpet at the Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City.
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Jennifer Lopez, left, fused the "China: Through The Looking Glass" theme in an Atelier Versace illusion gown that depicted a red dragon embroidered around her body in ruby crystals. Justin Bieber, center, wore a custom Balmain dragon-embroidered blazer. On the right, Kristen Wiig's flowing chiffon Prabal Gurung number may have embraced the color scheme, but the dress was more Grecian than Chinese.
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Charles James designed sumptuous, structured gowns with a mathematical approach and innovative tailoring. Designer Zac Posen dressed both Burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, left, and model Liu Wen, center, in elaborately constructed dresses for 2014's theme of "Charles James: Beyond Fashion." Influences of James can been seen in the gravity-defying folds of fabric in Wen’s gown, and Von Teese’s heavily tailored mermaid dress. Kristen Stewart’s loose-fitting Chanel dress is just "beyond fashion" and not at all inspired by James' work.
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The "Punk: Chaos to Couture" theme for the 2013 Met Gala focused on the origins of the punk movement and how the style has influenced couture and ready-to-wear over the years. From the studded Burberry gown to her sharp pendants, model Cara Delevingne, left, oozed punk. As did Polish model Anja Rubik, center, who rocked an Anthony Vaccarello red leather mini featuring an asymmetric chain-mail cut-out panel. Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton appeared to have ignored the punk dress code, donning a bright green Diane Von Furstenberg dress. However, she made a slight reference to the era with a backcombed hairdo.
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Kim Kardashian, pictured with husband Kanye West, turned heads in a memorable Riccardo Tisci flowered gown at the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Met. Though Tisci defended the look, saying she was "the most beautiful pregnant woman I dressed in my career,” critics noted that pink flowers aren't very "punk."
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In 2013, the "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" exhibition pointed out the similarities in the imaginative designs of Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian women who challenged conventional notions of beauty and chic, focusing on seven themes. Camille Belle's Ralph Lauren number reflected "The Classical Body," which explores the designers' influence of old world glamour in their gowns. In the center, Beyoncé's Givenchy gown represented the designers' use of detailed embellishment in the "Waist Up/Waist Down" theme. Designer Marc Jacobs turned heads on the red carpet with a long black lace tunic by Commes des Garçons over a pair of white boxer shorts and pilgrim shoes because “I just didn't want to wear a tuxedo and be boring.”
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The 2008 Met Gala "Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy" theme looked at how designers drew inspiration from superhero costumes, such as the cape on Amber Valeta's Versace gown, center, or the Wonder Woman-esque red corset Christina Ricci, left, rocked under her pink chiffon Givenchy dress. Gisele Bundchen, right, may have looked super stunning in her backless pink Versace gown, but the look was a superhero fail.
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Paul Poiret was a pioneer in modern fashion, doing away with the corset and embracing the notion of personal style. He was among the first to use draping in dressmaking and he had no problem putting pants on women. At the 2007 Met Gala themed "Poiret: King of Fashion," Gisele Bundchen, left, and Iman, center with husband David Bowie, elegantly interpreted Poiret's progressive style. Renee Zellweger, right, chose a tight-fitting Carolina Herrera, a silhouette Poiret worked to liberate women from.
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