The annual Met Gala is fashion’s night of nights, but it’s not typically a red carpet where stars play it safe.
However, at an event where the rule is “go big or go home”, some looks are sure to ruffle a few feathers.
Let’s count down some of the Met Gala’s most controversial outfits in history.
Sarah Jessica Parker, 2015
In 2015, the Met Gala theme was ‘China: Through The Looking Glass’, with the accompanying exhibition exploring Chinese design and its influence on global fashion. However, some stars definitely blurred the lines of cultural appropriation—and few actually wore Chinese designers.
Sarah Jessica Parker bore the brunt of criticism for donning an ostentatious headpiece designed by Irish milliner, Philip Treacy. Meanwhile, the dress was designed by the actress in partnership with H&M.
Scarlett Johansson, 2018
The theme in 2018 was ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ and not only did Scarlett Johansson’s look not really adhere, it was also a pretty insensitive in the political climate.
ScarJo’s gown was designed by Marchesa, the brand owned by Harvey Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman. Disgraced Hollywood heavyweight, Weinstein, was facing a number of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct, and was also known to insist actresses wear his wife’s label.
Met Gala queen Rihanna always looks amazing on the red carpet. However, her John Galliano for Maison Margiela look at the ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination’ Gala was a little too ‘sexy pope’ for some.
Hailey Bieber, 2019
While from the front, Hailey Bieber’s sleek, baby pink Alexander Wang gown looks simple and understand—it tells a very different story from behind. The gown became known as the “thong dress” for the controversial g-string rising into the cut-out of the backless dress.
However, given the theme was ‘Camp: Notes On Fashion’, some have argued she didn’t take it far enough.
Lady Gaga, 2019
What started as a very large, very pink Brandon Maxwell gown, eventually became a pair of fishnet tights and some sparkly underwear in one of Gaga’s most memorable Met Gala red carpets. The popstar—who is already known for her camp style—wowed Gala crowds in 2019 by stripping down half way up the famous Met stairs.
The 16-minute multi-outfit reveal for ‘Camp: Notes On Fashion’ was nevertheless iconic and very on theme.
Jared Leto, 2019
Jared Leto stole the show in 2019 when he carried his own head down the ‘pink carpet’. The actor/musician wore a red, bejewelled Gucci outfit… and carried a bust of his likeness. While the look was definitely camp, it was a little unnerving for some.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 2021
At her first Met Gala, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led with a fierce statement. Her gown emblazoned with ‘Tax The Rich’ certainly ruffled a few (probably expensive) feathers that night at the ‘In America’-themed Met Gala.
Nevertheless, Ocasio-Cortez certainly made an impact, with hers becoming the most Googled Met Gala dress since 2004.
Cara Delevingne, 2021
Cara Delevingne caused a stir at the 2021 Met Gala when she appeared on the cream carpet in a ‘peg the patriarchy’ vest designed by Dior. However, while some deemed it controversial for its raunchy undertones, others found it controversial for its lack of attribution to the woman who created the slogan. Toronto-based sex educator, Luna Matatas, took to Instagram to call out the lack of credit offered to her,
“While I’m giddy that Peg the Patriarchy® made it to The Met Gala, [Cara Delevingne] tried to pull it off as their own. No credit to me, the creator and owner of the trademark,” she wrote. “Remember that as a fat, queer, POC I am working twice as hard just to do what I’m already amazing at.
“What’s grossest for me is the media interviews – with Cara blatantly owning it as if it wasn’t already owned. Sound familiar? *Coughs in colonialism*”
Matatas added that the phrase is about “subverting the system that requires subservience within a gender binary”—not about a sex act.
Timothée Chalamet, 2021
As a co-chair of that year’s proceedings, some thought Timmy was way under-dressed for the luxury, designer-heavy event. However, given the Americana theme, we think he hit the nail on the head.
Kim Kardashian, 2021
Kim has had no shortage of headline-making Met Gala outfits, but people were particularly confused by the Balenciaga number she wore to the 2021 event. The theme was ‘In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion’ and Kim turned up in a full-body, face-covering, t-shirt fabric body suit/dress. At the time Kim wrote on social media: “What’s more American than a t-shirt head to toe?” But people still had questions.
However, Kim later admitted she had her own misgivings about the look and couldn’t see very well through the mask.
Kim Kardashian, 2022
The following year saw another controversial outfit from Kim. The look began drumming up controversy weeks in advance after it was revealed the reality star would wear Marilyn Monroe’s iconic nude, sparkly dress worn to sing happy birthday to JFK.
There was a lot of discussion around Kim’s dramatic weight loss—the star said she had to shed more than seven kilos to fit the dress—and the logistics of removing the dress from a museum for the event.