There is a reason to take a look at photos from over the years of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala — and not just because the Met Gala is postponed for the 2020 season. As you scroll through the best Met Gala beauty looks, gowns, and suits, you'll begin to see a certain trend take form: a dedication to a theme. After all, the first Monday in May has held a special place in the fashion community's heart for a long time.
Even though it hasn't always been quite the sartorial spectacle; relatively speaking here, of course. Though established back in 1948, fashion multi-hyphenate Diana Vreeland brought the notion of immersive themes to the Met Gala table in the '70s. Later on, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour ushered in another wave of support to the fashionable fundraiser in the '90s, transforming the gala into the one-of-a-kind and once-a-year soirée you'd recognize today.
In other words, a party where even your lipstick or hairstyle can be on theme — and even if they're not, people will still wonder what they mean. Below, 10 of the most memorable Met Gala beauty looks from all time.
Princess Diana at the 1996 Met Gala
Eye-catching jewels and a Dior slip dress — fresh from the mind of the then-new creative director, John Galliano — made the royal's Met Gala appearance one to remember. Subtle details cinch it, though; such as the understated French manicure and perfectly '90s rose lip color.
Theme: "Christian Dior"
Iman at the 2003 Met Gala
As you know, not all early 2000s photos exude the timeless air of Iman's show-stopping 2003 gala look. The model's whimsical hair accessory, Old Hollywood Waves, and soft-glam makeup mirrored her white silk dress' sleek elegance.
Theme: “Goddess: The Classical Mode”
Amber Valletta at the 2004 Met Gala
Amber Valletta brought the drama to the 2004 Met Gala long before it became customary to do so.
Theme: “Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century”
Cate Blanchett at the 2007 Met Gala
Dressed in tasseled Balenciaga, Cate Blanchett's draped blush and monochromatic bronze lids feel well before their time for 2007.
Theme: “Poiret: King of Fashion”
Rihanna at the 2014 Met Gala
While Rihanna's two-piece Stella McCartney ensemble might not be her most memorable — who could forget 2015's Guo Pei gown? — the relatively lower-key look nailed the delicate art of "messy" updos.
Theme: “Charles James: Beyond Fashion”
Naomi Campbell at the 2015 Met Gala
Choosing just one Met Gala look from Naomi Campbell is no easy feat. Still, this lash-and-liner combination from 2015 deserves to go down in the history books.
Theme: “China: Through the Looking Glass”
Beyoncé at the 2016 Met Gala
Beyoncé's latex Givenchy gown may've made waves — but her long, caramel, and flawlessly highlighted hair launched a 1,000 hair color appointments.
Theme: “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”
Priyanka Chopra at the 2018 Met Gala
An entire list could be devoted to the beauty looks from the 2018 gala — and then another to its headpieces alone. A standout amongst the trend: Priyanka Chopra's beaded hood and Renaissance-inspired part.
Theme: "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination"
Florence Welch at the 2019 Met Gala
Dare to take your eyes off Florence Welch's Gucci gown to peek at the artist's signature '70s hair. The long, beachy waves and fresh-faced makeup acted as an airy counterpoint to her immaculately beaded ensemble.
Theme: “Camp: Notes on Fashion”
Lupita Nyong'o at the 2019 Met Gala
Another 2019 look to remember. Lupita Nyong'o's 2019 Met Gala updo was inspired by "a self portrait by @laurendkelley 'Pickin' as well as #MarieAntoinette," according to an Instagram post by hairstylist Vernon François.