The Met Gala is one the most famous and glamorous social events in the world. It’s also the single event that best combines charity fundraising for a public museum with obscenely decadent self-indulgence fashion by A-list celebrities.
The Met Gala is an annual event that has been held each year since 1948. Over the years, it has become more exclusive, richer, and more extravagant. The Met Gala asks guests to dress according to a theme each year. This theme will be the same theme that the museum will display the next year. Celebrities are always looking to outdo each other and designers are looking to wow, so the attire has grown bolder, louder and louder.
This list includes ten of the most bizarre outfits ever worn at the Met Gala.
10 Solange Knowledgeles, 2015
In 2015, the theme was “China: Through the Looking Glass,” and if you’re not sure how to interpret that, don’t worry: Solange Knowles wasn’t sure, either.
The pop singer and Beyoncé’s sister decided to tackle the theme head-on and went as an actual looking glass. With the gown designed by Unique Giles, Knowles’s dress was circular, concave, and colored a reflective chrome, making Knowles look less like an elegant model and more like a coatroom accessory. The dress also made it impossible for Knowles to lower her arms throughout the performance, which added comfort to the list.
9 Rihanna, 2017
When you’re as beautiful and powerful as Rihanna, it’s rare when your “look” isn’t an instant success. The Barbadian singer tried her best to prove this theory when she wore a bologna-avalanche that covered her entire body.
The dress, designed by Guo Pei, was built from fabric cutouts, asymmetrically folded and stacked to look like mounds of deli meats dropped from the top shelf of an Arby’s cooler. Some of the fabric, however, was covered in a grandma’s-old-couch pastel floral pattern which added variety to the dress— depending on the vantage point. From certain views, the deli meats looked more like fungi you might find growing on the sides of trees, which is certainly a…mold choice.
8 Kanye West, 2016
“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” was the theme of the 2016 Met Gala. Kanye’s then-wife Kim Kardashian rose to the occasion with a dress that was half ballgown and half suit of armor. It was simple, refined, and understated. It could also be worn to other high-society functions. Kanye, however, seemed to have forgotten about the Met Gala until an hour before.
The rapper wore average suede shoes, ripped jeans, plain white t-shirts, and simple, but not extravagant, shoes. The only thing that he wore was his glittering jacket, which was white and covered with silver crystals. It was designed by Olivier Rousteing, a longtime friend. His intention to juxtapose man with machine was evident, but the result looked a lot like someone who just stole a coat of Elton John.
7 Sarah Jessica Parker, 2018
The 2018 Met Gala deliberately courted controversy when it announced its theme as “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” When various celebrities showed up dressed as Jesus, the Pope, and angels, the expected reactions all came. The most shocking offenses of 2018 had little or nothing to do with the theme but a lot with taste.
Sarah Jessica Parker, for instance, decided to not dress as any one figure but instead dress as a whole church. Designed by Alta Moda, the outfit’s gold filigree snaking over a drab, grey background made the actress look like the alter in a Greek Orthodox Church. The maximalist gold print continued to her flowing tail and ruffled shoulders. The crowning headpiece featured a miniature building that contained a detailed nativity scene complete with Jesus and Mary, Joseph, as well as gift-bearing magi.
6 Nicole Richie, 2013
The 2013 Met Gala produced some truly bad*ss looks due to its theme of “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” A lot of celebs came in black, with slicked-back hair and strategic rips. Many, including Madonna and Anne Hathaway, managed to pull off the look flawlessly. Nicole Richie’s outfit, on the other hand, managed a flaw or two.
The biggest flaw being: it looked like she was expertly cosplaying Jack Frost from Tim Allen’s Santa Claus 3. Richie channeled wintery Martin Short with her arctic white hair, which was blown up and swept back to the point that it looked like icicles. The rest of her look, including white eyeshadow and an all-white Topshop dress, did not dispel the comparison.
5 Janelle Monáe, 2019
It’s almost cheating to include outfits from the 2019 Met Gala, whose theme of “Camp: Notes on Fashion” alluded to a classic fashion essay that described purposeful bad taste and excess. The weirdness side of the year was a big hit. Enough to fuel the three next entries.
Kicking things off is singer Janelle Monáe, whose outfit and accessories were meant as an homage to Picasso’s surrealist portraits as designed by Christian Siriano. Unlike most of the entries on this list, Monáe’s outfit is weird because she pulled her idea off to perfection. Her entire body became a face. One eye was on her chest while the other was in her hands. Four wide-brimmed caps were arranged on top of her head. It was all so perfect Picasso. Monáe’s outfit proved that weird isn’t always bad.
4 Ezra Miller, 2019
Actor Ezra Miller also brought the dreamlike thunder to the 2019 Met Gala with an outfit that questioned our perceptions of gender and… the human head.
Miller spent the Met Gala’s early hours with a mask on his face and a white cloak over his head. The mask was an incredibly lifelike reproduction of Miller’s own face, free from makeup and unadorned. The sensational concept below was revealed when the actor removed the mask, cloak and makeup. Riccardo Tisci designed his clothing. It was one part tuxedo, one part gown. His corset, wig and cherry-rip lipstick also defied male expectations. It was his eyes that stole the show—all seven of them. Most of Miller’s face was painted with eyes, and the look’s overall impression was of an equal blending of man, woman, and absolutely fabulous tarantula.
3 Katy Perry 2019, 2019
Katy Perry’s ensemble, which was literally a chandelier, completed the 2019 Met Gala. The pop singer did not “look to chandeliers for inspiration” or “channel the chandelier aesthetic”; she just wore an actual, working chandelier courtesy of the designs of Moschino.
Perry, who was probably doing this to beat Sia, wore a three-tiered chandelier with hidden batteries to make each light bulb work. The glowing lights wrapped around her hips, chest and headpiece and, despite all odds, looked pretty good. It was surprisingly elegant for a dress that reflected a theme of excess and hamminess. For bonus points, Perry then attended the Met Gala’s after-party…as a hamburger.
Stella McCartney and Liv Tyler, 1999
Stella McCartney and Liv Tyler are rock royalty. The former is the daughter to Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and the latter is the son of Beatle legend Paul McCartney. Even if you were unaware of their lineage, you would know they’re rock royalty because, at the 1999 Met Gala, the pair decided to write it on their chests.
The couple attended the Met Gala without wearing suits or dresses. Instead, they wore average pants and white tank tops. The shirts stood out, however, due to the words “rock royalty” hand-scrawled on them with rhinestones. These sparkly white tees, studded with rhinestones, were not designed by fashion royalty. Instead, they were created by Hanes and embellished by a Little Italy seamstress. Oh, and it was done on the morning of the Met Gala. It was rock and roll, if I may say so.
Over the years, a series of Met Gala retrospectives have deemed the looks either bold or bratty, and it’s very likely that both takes are equally true.
1 Frank Ocean, 2021
Almost all of the most bizarre looks at the Met Gala are recent, which is perhaps not surprising. Example: The off-putting outfit worn by Frank Ocean, a rapper and singer, at the Met Gala 2021. Ocean looked elegant in a Prada three piece suede suit with matching earrings and necklace made of gemstones. Ocean’s real off-the-rails touch was his accessories: specifically the green robot babydoll he held all night.
Ocean held the doll as if it were his own baby, sometimes rocking it and even cooing at its beauty. Ocean even answered interview questions for the baby. The creepiest part is that the baby participated; it was animatronic, turning its head, blinking, and wagging its arms in response to Ocean’s attention. The Met Gala baby was not just an animatronic onesie; the youngster was also painted in a trippy neon green plaid onesie.