From stunning timeless looks and red carpet glamour to the downright bizarre showstoppers, the Met Gala, also known as the Met Ball, is renowned for some of the most talked about celebrity looks, generating conversation and social media buzz every single year.
Founded in 1948 as a way to raise money for the Costume Institute in New York City, the first Met Gala was a small, intimate affair, and tickets were priced at just $50 (just over £40), as opposed to the eyewatering $50,000 (or £40,184.00) they cost today! The high-profile fashion event attracts celebrities, fashion designers, and industry insiders from around the world and has grown into one of the most highly anticipated fashion events of the year.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most iconic Met Gala outfits and their estimated insurance values ahead of the 2023 event. Unsurprisingly, these outfits cost a pretty penny, with some of them even reaching seven figures! We’ll be revealing our fave looks from 1974 until now, including the most expensive gown to ever grace the Met Gala carpet, so buckle up.
Cher in Bob Mackie, 1974
‘Here and barely there’ look – Insurance Value £12,054.75
This ensemble is one of the most iconic and memorable looks in the event’s history. The outfit consisted of a sheer nude-coloured fabric that was heavily embellished with intricate beading, a plunging neckline and feathered sleeves. The feathered sleeves were a standout feature, with layers of ostrich feathers in shades of white and gold that created a sense of movement and drama.
The plunging neckline was framed by a beaded fringe collar extending down the front of the gown, drawing attention to Cher’s décolletage. The gown was fitted at the waist and hips and flared out into a full, floor-length skirt that was also adorned with beaded fringe.
At the time, the outfit was estimated to cost around £12,054.75 (or $15,000), which was a significant amount of money in the 1970s. If the gown were bought today, it would cost around £64,306.00 (or $80,000) in 2023.
Naomi Campbell in Versace, 1995
‘Less bitter, more glitter’ look – Insurance Value £7,000
Moving on a couple of decades to the nineties, Naomi Campbell attended the 1995 Met Gala in a dazzling, glamorous strapless gown that sparkled under the spotlights. The dress was crafted from a sheer fabric and featured intricate silver and gold beadwork. The beadwork formed a geometric pattern that emphasized the curves of her body, creating a striking and memorable silhouette.
The dress was widely praised for its stunning and memorable design and has since become an iconic piece of fashion history. It has been featured in numerous exhibitions and remains a testament to the skill and creativity of Gianni Versace, one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century.
Sarah Jessica Parker in Alexander McQueen, 2006
‘Tartan Fantasy’ look – Insurance Value £20,000
The theme of the 2006 Met Gala was “Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion,” and Sarah Jessica Parker’s dress was a perfect representation of this.
The gown was crafted from a luxurious ivory-coloured silk fabric that had a subtle sheen and a smooth, flowing texture. The bodice of the dress was fitted and covered in delicate, intricate beadwork, with the tartan layer of fabric adding a vibrantly red pop of colour and cinching in elegantly at the waist.
Sarah Jessica Parker completed the outfit with black stilettos, which complimented the punk-inspired look perfectly.
Daphne Guinness in Alexander McQueen, 2011
‘Im’peck’ably made’ look – Insurance Value £80,366.00
Daphne Guinness’ 2011 Met Gala dress was a striking and avant-garde design that made a bold statement on the red carpet. The dress was designed by Alexander McQueen, who was a close friend of Guinness and a frequent collaborator on her fashion projects.
The dress was crafted from a combination of delicate feathers and intricate lace, with a fitted bodice that flowed seamlessly into a full skirt. The feathers were arranged in layers that created a striking ombre effect, with hues of lilac and cream.
The overall effect of the dress was both ethereal and dramatic, with the feathered skirt billowing out around Guinness as she moved. The dress was accessorised with a pair of long gloves made from the same delicate lace as the dress, which added to the overall elegance and sophistication of the look. The piece is rumoured to cost upwards of £80,366.00 or ($100,000)!
Rihanna in Guo Pei, 2015
‘Shine bright like a diamond’ look – Insurance Value £40,320.00
Rihanna’s dramatic yellow gown worn to the 2015 Met Gala was designed by Chinese couturier Guo Pei. The dress featured a voluminous, fur-trimmed cape with a train that extended several feet behind her and a long-sleeved, embroidered bodice with a high collar. The intricate embroidery on the dress was inspired by traditional Chinese imperial court costumes and took over two years to create, coming in at £40,320.00 (or $50,000).
The gown inspired a lot of amusing memes and jokes on social media, with many users taking to Photoshop to edit the dress into different types of food. The hashtag #RihannaMetGala2015 trended on Twitter for several days after the event. Search Rihanna Met Gala 2015 memes on google images if you fancy having a laugh; you won’t regret it!
Beyoncé in Givenchy, 2016
‘Latex love’ look – Insurance Value £1,350,000
Beyoncé’s 2016 Met Gala dress was a stunning work of art designed by Givenchy’s creative director, Riccardo Tisci. The gown was made of latex and embellished with intricate pearl and crystal embroidery, with a high collar that framed her face and long, sheer sleeves that added to the drama of the look.
The dress was a nude colour that blended seamlessly with Beyoncé’s skin, giving the illusion that she was almost naked. The sheer fabric was strategically placed to maintain a sense of modesty while still showing off her curves and figure.
The price of Beyoncé’s 2016 Met Gala dress has not been publicly disclosed, but a rumour was spreading on Twitter at the time that each of the pearls used on the dress cost a jaw-dropping £6,439.36 (or $8,000)! So if we take a modest estimation of 200 pearls used, those alone would have cost £1,287,872. With the rest of the materials etc., we have estimated that the piece would have cost around £1,350,000!
Katy Perry in Margiela, 2017
‘Red in the face’ look – Insurance Value £12,077.93
Katy Perry’s 2017 Met Gala dress was a custom Maison Margiela Artisanal design created by designer John Galliano. The dress was a striking red, with a heavily embellished veil that covered her face.
The dress featured a deep red, silk satin bodice with a high neckline and a short train. The skirt was made up of multiple layers of tulle, organza, and chiffon, which were adorned with intricate, hand-painted designs in a range of bright colours. The layers of fabric were gathered and ruffled to create a voluminous, cloud-like effect that extended far beyond Perry’s hips and flowed behind her as she walked.
The dress was designed to embody the theme of the Met Gala that year, which was “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”. The theme celebrated the work of the Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo and her avant-garde fashion label, Comme des Garçons.
Blake Lively in Versace, 2018
‘Red and gold goddess’ look – Insurance Value £2,816,033.50
Blake Lively’s 2018 Met Gala dress was a custom-made Versace gown that featured intricate beading and embroidery. The dress was designed to fit the event’s theme, which was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The ensemble was a deep red colour with a gold bodice that featured intricate detailing and a flowing train.
The dress was also accented with a variety of religious-inspired details, including a golden halo-like headpiece, a pair of intricate gold and diamond earrings, and a pair of thigh-high velvet boots with golden crosses on the heels.
The ruby red gown is said to have used £1,610,390.00 worth of Lorraine Schwartz jewellery for its creation, costing an eye-watering £2,816,033.50 (or $3,500,000) in total.
Cardi B in Thom Browne, 2019
‘Queen of hearts’ look – Insurance Value £201,530.00
Cardi B’s 2019 Met Gala dress was a larger-than-life creation by designer Thom Browne. The dress was designed to evoke the look of a dramatic, crimson-hued quilted blanket, with intricate, puffy layers of ruffles and tulle that cascaded down to the floor.
The dress featured a fitted corset-style bodice that was adorned with delicate beading, and the skirt of the dress was voluminous and layered, with a series of ruffles that were carefully arranged to create a billowing effect.
The most striking feature of the dress, however, was the massive train, which extended behind Cardi B for several feet. The train was so large that it required a team of handlers to help her up the Met’s famous steps!
Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell, 2019
‘Fab Four’ look – Insurance Value £1,605,722.00
Lady Gaga’s 2019 Met Gala outfit was a custom-made design by Brandon Maxwell, and it consisted of not one, not two, but four different looks that she revealed one by one on the red carpet, each more elaborate than the last.
The first look was a hot pink cape dress with an oversized bow at the neck. The cape extended out behind her, creating a dramatic effect as she walked.
The second look was a strapless black gown that she wore underneath the pink cape dress. The gown featured a fitted bodice and a mermaid-style skirt that flared out at the bottom. She accessorised with black gloves that reached up to her elbows and a statement necklace.
The third look was a hot pink column dress that she wore underneath the black gown. The dress featured a high neckline and long sleeves, with a slit up the front that revealed a pair of hot pink platform boots. She accessorised with a matching hot pink wagon, which she pulled along with her on the red carpet.
Her final look was a sparkly black bra and underwear set that she wore with fishnet stockings and platform boots. She also wore a black jacket with dramatic puffed shoulders, which she carried on her arm like a cape.
Throughout the night, Lady Gaga continued to reveal different layers of her outfit, each more extravagant than the last. The overall effect was a show-stopping display of fashion and performance art. Epic!
Zendaya in Tommy Hilfiger, 2019
‘Real-life Cinderella’ look – Insurance Value £201,150.00
Zendaya’s outfit for the 2019 Met Gala was a tribute to the classic fairy tale Cinderella, designed by Tommy Hilfiger. The dress was a powder blue ballgown made from silk shantung with a fitted bodice and a voluminous skirt. The dress was finished with intricate detailing, including 3D-printed jewellery and over 20 yards of fabric to create the layered skirt.
In a theatrical display, the dress lit up and transformed with the wave of a wand, revealing a glowing glass slipper and creating a truly magical moment on the red carpet. Zendaya’s Cinderella-inspired dress for the 2019 Met Gala was widely praised for its imaginative and original design, as well as its message of inclusivity and diversity.
The estimated cost of Zendaya’s Cinderella dress is reported to be around £201,150.00 (or $250,000).
Jennifer Lopez in Ralph Lauren, 2021
‘Cowgirl couture’ look – Insurance Value £3,941,452.20
In 2021, Jennifer Lopez arrived at the Met Gala wearing a showstopping cowgirl-inspired ensemble designed by Ralph Lauren. The outfit included a cowboy hat, chaps, and a plunging neckline and reportedly cost a whopping £3,941,452.20 (or $4.9 million)!
The outfit comprised a custom-made brown faux-leather plunging neckline gown with a cowboy hat, a matching faux-leather cape with white feather accents, and a thick brown leather belt with silver buckle detailing. The dress featured a daring thigh-high slit, which revealed Jennifer Lopez’s toned legs and high-heeled, knee-high boots with silver spurs.
The entire ensemble was finished with an extravagant choker necklace and statement earrings, both made of sparkling diamonds and created by jewellery designer Lorraine Schwartz. The necklace was a masterpiece, featuring a large diamond and turquoise centrepiece, as well as smaller diamond and turquoise accents that complemented the outfit’s Western theme. Can we get a yee-haw?
Kim Kardashian in Jean Louis, 2022
‘Marilyn Monroe Muse’ look – Insurance Value £4,018,005
Dubbed the most expensive Met Gala gown of all time, Kim Kardashian wore a vintage Jean Louis dress, originally worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr President” to John F. Kennedy at his 45th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden.
Made of a pale pink satin material, the stunning dress had a plunging neckline and a dramatic open back. The dress was paired with a furry white jacket that was effortlessly draped over her arms in true vintage Hollywood glamour style.
The dress was reportedly on loan from the personal collection of a private collector and vintage clothing dealer, William Banks-Blaney.
The Met Gala has produced some of the most iconic moments in fashion history, and the outfits, of course, come with a hefty price tag and would cost serious ££££s to insure! As the fashion industry continues to thrive, we can’t wait to see what the Met Gala has in store for 2023.