The Met Gala is one of the most famous and fabulous 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 has been held every year since 1948, and it has become more exclusive, more expensive, and more extravagant. Each year, the Met Gala asks attendees to dress according to the interpretation of a set theme, the same theme the museum will exhibit the following year. With celebrities looking to top one another and designers looking to wow, the attire has become bigger, bolder, louder, and prouder.
With so many iconic outfits to choose from, this list ranks ten of the weirdest outfits ever unleashed at the Met Gala.
10 Solange Knowles, 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. On top of that, the dress prevented the singer from fully lowering her arms all night, adding comfort to the list of casualties this dress left in its wake.
9 Rihanna, 2017
When you’re as beautiful and powerful as Rihanna, it’s rare when your “look” isn’t an instant success. In 2017, the Barbadian singer tried her very best to test that theory when she wore what can only be described as a head-to-toe bologna avalanche.
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, understated, and refined and seemed actually wearable at other high-society functions. Kanye himself, however, apparently forgot about the Met Gala until the hour before.
The rapper wore decidedly average suede shoes, ripped jeans, and a plain white t-shirt. His one item on theme was the glittering jacket atop it all, white and covered in silver crystals designed by longtime friend Olivier Rousteing. To his credit, the intent to juxtapose man and machine was clear, though the result looked a bit like a homeless person just stole a coat from 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. But the most egregious offenses of 2018 had little to do with the theme and a lot to do with taste.
Sarah Jessica Parker, for example, opted to eschew dressing as any particular figure and instead dressed 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 around her ruffled shoulders, flowing tail, and onto the crowning headpiece. To top it off, literally, the headpiece was a miniature building that housed a detailed nativity scene, complete with Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and 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, like Anne Hathaway and Madonna, pulled the attitude off 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 The Santa Claus 3. Richie channeled the wintery Martin Short character with her arctic white hair blown up and back, falling just short of actual icicles. The rest of her look, with white eye shadow and an all-white dress designed by Topshop, did little to 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. As expected, the year delivered on the weirdness front. Enough to fuel the next three 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, deliberately misshapen to look cut in half and disproportionate. One eye was on her chest and the other in her hand. Stacked atop her head were four wide-brimmed hats. It was all so perfectly 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 early moments of the Met Gala holding a mask in front of his face and a white cloak atop his outfit. The mask was an incredibly lifelike reproduction of Miller’s own face, free from makeup and unadorned. Then the actor removed the mask and cloak to reveal the sensational concept beneath. His clothing, designed by Riccardo Tisci, was one part tuxedo and one part gown. Likewise, his corset, wig, and cherry-rip lipstick defied the male expectation. 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
Rounding out the 2019 Met Gala is the ensemble worn by Katy Perry, which was, very literally, a chandelier. 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.
Presumably doing so just to beat Sia to the punch, Perry sported a three-tiered chandelier, complete with hidden battery packs to make every light bulb functional. The glowing lights encircled her hips, chest, and headpiece, and against all odds, managed to look pretty good. For a dress that catered to a theme of excessiveness and hamminess, it ended up surprisingly elegant. For bonus points, Perry then attended the Met Gala’s after-party…as a hamburger.
2 Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney, 1999
Liv Tyler and Stella McCartney are rock royalty; the former is the daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, and the latter is the daughter 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.
Instead of dresses or suits, the pair attended the Met Gala in 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 studded white tees were not designed by fashion royalty, but by Hanes, with embellishments added by a local Little Italy seamstress. Oh, and it was done the morning of the Met Gala. Very rock and roll if you ask me.
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
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the weirdest looks in Met Gala history are almost all recent. Case in point: the off-putting ensemble worn by rapper and singer Frank Ocean at the most recent Met Gala in 2021. Ocean himself looked slick in a three-piece suede suit by Prada and matching gemstone earrings and necklace. Ocean’s real off-the-rails touch was his accessories: specifically the green robot babydoll he held all night.
Ocean cradled the doll like an actual baby, at times rocking it and cooing at it. He even answered for the baby during interviews. 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. Not just any old animatronic Met Gala baby, though, as the youngster was also painted to wear a trippy neon green plaid onesie.