An A-Z of the Most Iconic Met Gala Designers Ever
The first Monday of May tends to be one of the most significant and annual historic fashion events of the year. It can only be the Met Gala.
Held in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, this soirée was established in 1948 as a fundraiser for the Costume Institute. The very first Gala was a midnight dinner and tickets were only $50 each. However, in 1973 the Met Gala was met with significant changes when editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland become a consultant for the Costume Institute, thus introducing annual themes for the balls. Today, the Met Gala is a luxurious, blockbuster event and considered "the jewel in New York City's social crown."
The Gala is regarded to be the most exclusive and renowned event in the world, and one of the biggest fundraising nights in New York City. Since Anna Wintour become the new Vogue editor-in-chief and chairman of the event in 1995, the Gala has broken records year after year such as $9 Million raised in 2013 to a record-breaking $12 Million in 2014. The Gala then looked to surpass a predicted $200 Million USD after 2019. Individual tickets now cost $40,000 for those outside the official guest list to achieve the utmost exclusivity.
Unfortunately in 2020 due to concerns of the worldwide pandemic Covid-19, the Met Gala this year has been indefinitely pushed back. And as much as we fashionistas are saddened that we won't get to scrutinise a plethora of celebrities and their versions of this year's theme, we also won't be able to see designers showcase their latest creations either. So instead, I have curated a list of the best Met Gala designers who have created jaw-droppingly fabulous looks from A all the way to Z.
Let's get into it.
The four-time winner of 'British Designer of the Year' has produced gorgeous looks on celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Nicole Kidman and Florence Welch. The Alexander McQueen fashion house is now run by creative director Sarah Burton since the designers passing in 2010 and has designed gowns for royalty such as Kate Middleton who wore a McQueen wedding dress.
Established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, this brand originally focused on developing outdoor attire. The brand has since moved into the high fashion market, retaining the iconic Burberry check pattern that is recognisable by almost anyone. Stars of the modern world began wearing the Burberrys brand. During the 1970s and 1980s, Burberry signed agreements with worldwide manufacturers to produce complementary products to the existing British collection such as suits, trousers, shirts, sportswear, accessories, for men, ladies, and children. Ezra Miller merges gender-bending forms for the theme 'Camp'.
Natasha Poly wears a French brand that has had 10 different creative directors since the death of founder Pierre Balmain in 1982. With Olivier Rousteing being a relatively unknown designer but now holding onto the reigns as creative director, he has brought a fresh take on the brand's aesthetic that remains to this day. He has also been credited with adding an Asian influence to the clothing, as Asia comprises a huge part of the brand's buyers.
Balenciaga (This designer was the first theme in 1973, 'The World of Balenciaga')
Spanish fashion house Balenciaga has a reputation as a couturier of strong standards and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. Lady Gaga lets us remember founder Cristóbal Balenciaga by being the brand is known to create avant-garde pieces. They have always gone against the rules, guidelines and bourgeoisie status of the governing body of the French industry (Chambre syndicale de la haute couture parisienne).
Cher's favourite designer. Award-winning American Bob Mackie has dressed a number of celebrities since designing costumes as far back as the 1960s on broadway. Referred to as "the sultan of sequins" or "the rajah of rhinestones" Bob Mackie has said, "A woman who wears my clothes is not afraid to be noticed." His designs were one to be worn by showgirls and any woman who needed to be centre stage for a production or event. Mackie also designed costumes for the Las Vegas Strip-based burlesque shows.
Founded in 1909, fashion house Chanel adopted simple-line designs that were opposite of the hourglass-figure that was achieved by the fashions of the late 19th century. Chanel has been known to use colours that were traditionally associated with masculinity in Europe such as navy blue or grey to denote feminine boldness of character. Mary-Kate Olsen, Ashley Olsen and Lily-Rose Depp are featured here wearing classic Chanel that accentuate the timeless designs, such as gold buttons and chains.
After working for designer Emilio Pucci in 1965, she has not only worked her way from appearing on the International Best Dressed List in 1972 but was then elected to its Hall of Fame in 1980. Diana Vreeland, Vogue's editor-in-chief at the time suggested she design a clothing line. A few of her most notable clients have included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who asked her to design the dress for her daughter Caroline's wedding.
Alicia Keys wears a mint green, hooded, sequin tulle gown inspired by Grace Jones.
Comme Des Garçons
Japanese fashion label Comme Des Garçons (like the boys) has developed a market-based department store concept that stocks its main collections and features their other brands such as Shirt and Play. The brand's name was inspired by Francoise Hardy's 1962 song Tous les garçons et les filles, particularly from the line Comme les garçons et les filles de mon âge. The brand became successful in Japan in the 1970s; a menswear line was added in 1978.
Rihanna wears an interesting and eccentric dress that is supposed to combat masculinity and femininity in one.
Siriano first gained attention after winning the fourth season of American design television show Project Runway.
After being rejected by the Fashion Institute of Technology, Siriano decided to study abroad at the American InterContinental University in London, England. He then interned at Vivienne Westwood and later at Alexander McQueen which is his favourite designer. He moved to New York after graduating. He celebrated the 10th anniversary of his fashion line in February 2018 with a runway show of his Fall 2018 collection. The New York City show featured a diverse set of models, including Ashley Graham, Selma Blair and Danielle Brooks. This interesting look was worn by Michael Urie that merged two looks together for the theme 'camp'.
Established in 1968, CK is one of the most well-known brands in the world. It specialises in leather, lifestyle accessories, home furnishings, perfumery, jewellery, watches and ready-to-wear. Starting as a coat shop in New York City, the brand has moved from nearly facing bankruptcy to becoming a billion-dollar company.
This French fashion house was founded in 1946 by designer Christian Dior. It currently designs and retails leather goods, fashion accessories, footwear, jewellery, timepieces, fragrance, makeup, and skincare products, but also maintains its tradition as a creator of Haute-couture under the Christian Dior Couture division.
Dior has created solid partnerships with Hollywood celebrities and social media influencers, working closely with these individuals to reach a wider range of demographics and re-establish its identity as a new, modern brand, despite the fact that it has been around for a while.
Laport has kickstarted his career by creating a modern brand aesthetic which is to contemporise the female form. The cut and fit of a garment is supposed to take centre stage, like this canary yellow piece Solange wears. Specialising in women's wear, Laport takes inspiration from experimental female silhouettes which are sculptural in shape but light and prone to movement. A bright colour palette keeps this image fresh.
Peter Dundas is a Norwegian designer who was appointed creative director at Roberto Cavalli. He studied in New York, moved to Paris and became an assistant to Jean-Paul Gautier in 1992 for 10 years, then moved to Christian Lacroix for two years, turned into an artistic director for Pucci and finally arriving at Cavalli. Dundas had developed Pucci's brand history of glamorous, colourful and patterned collections that focused on nightlife as a key inspiration. Art of Elysium named Dundas the recipient of its Visionary Award for 2020, with the designer creating the decorations for its annual gala on the theme of "Heaven".
Nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue, Donna Karan is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels. The Council of Fashion Designers of America named her Menswear Designer of the Year 1992 and Womenswear Designer of the Year 1990 and 1996. She was a nominee for the latter again in 2003 and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA in 2004. She won special CFDA awards in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
Dolce & Gabbana
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana met in Milan in 1980 and designed for the same fashion house. In 1982, they established a designer consulting studio; in time it grew to become "Dolce & Gabbana". They presented their first women's collection in 1985 in Milan, where a year later their store would open its doors.
Having been inspired by the eclectic thrift shop and bohemian styles, Dolce & Gabbana features deeply coloured designs and animal prints. They have been described as "Haute hippy dom" and take inspiration in Italian film history. Domenico says: "When we design it's like a movie. We think of a story and we design the clothes to go with it."
They say that they are more concerned about creating the best and most flattering clothes rather than sparking trends. They once also said that they wouldn't mind if their only contribution to fashion history was a black bra. But Sicily and Sicilian culture is what is most important to the style and identity of Dolce & Gabbana.
Known for his use of experimental textiles, vibrant prints, and detailed craftsmanship, Erdem Moralioglu mixes the delicate with the bold. After interning with Vivienne Westwood, ERDEM has received around 11 awards over the years such as from the British Fashion Council and most recently the 2015 British Fashion Council’s Establishment Designer award. He was also nominated by the British Fashion Council for "Designer of the Year 2009" and was named one of the 1000 most influential people in London by the Evening Standard.
Salvatore Ferragamo first opened the Hollywood Boot Shop in 1923 in California after emigrating from Italy. After returning home, he set up a shoe shop in Florence in 1927. The current shoemaking company regards 1928 as the date of its foundation, however, and it therefore celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2008. After Salvatore's death, the company has continued to display innovative designs and use of materials. Such ingenuity goes back to Salvatore's time in California, when he studied anatomy to make shoes which were more comfortable. Notable innovations include the wedge heel, the shell-shaped sole, the ‘invisible’ sandal, metal heels and soles, the 18-carat gold sandal, the sock-shoe, sculpture heels, and the gloved arch shoe created for the Maharani of Cooch Behar in 1938.
Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence, Tuscany, in 1921. It has been ranked in the Forbes "World's Most Valuable Brands" list and also the 38th most valuable brand in the world. Gucci is also the highest-selling Italian brand. Gucci's distinctive lines made its products among the most frequently copied in the world in the early 2000s. Pigskin, calf, and imported exotic animal skins were subjected to various methods of fabrication. A particularly iconic touch, introduced in 1964, was the use of the double-G logo for belt buckles and other accessory decorations
An Italian fashion designer whose designs both ready to wear and Haute couture were presented semi-annually during Paris Fashion Week. His designs are one that is a leading and established in the worldwide fashion scene that brings a new approach and meaning to luxury and beauty that attracts a universe of young, modern and international generation. Aiming to be worn by the highly glamorous and sophisticated women from around the globe, Valli has been praised by celebrities and fashion lovers alike, earning him a Star Honoree Award from Fashion Group International in 2011 in New York and Best Designer of the Year Awards from Elle China in 2013 and from Marie Claire Spain in 2015.
The house of Givenchy was founded in 1952 by designer Hubert de Givenchy but after his retirement in 1995 it has been seen by a handful of different directors. Most recently its artistic director was Clare Waight Keller, the first woman to hold that position. In 1954, Hubert de Givenchy presented the first shirt dress (which later evolved into the sack dress in 1957 and he was the first high fashion designer to create a luxury ready-to-wear clothing line, called "Givenchy Université", which was produced in Paris using machinery imported from the United States.
Guo Pei Couture
Guo Pei is a Chinese fashion designer. She is best known for designing dresses for Chinese celebrities, and in America for Rihanna's trailing yellow gown at the 2015 Met Ball. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, she recalls her father having thrown away her sketches and paintings as a child. In the same interview, Guo says she got her start in sewing at the age of 2 years old, helping her mother make clothes for the winter and developed her love for dressmaking. Her first collection to be showcased as a part of Paris Fashion Week was her Spring Summer 2016 collection. Inspired by Spring flowers for femininity and the phoenix for peace and purity, the collection had traditional Chinese influences like gold tassels, intricate threadwork embroidery over silk, bibs and long trains.
Giles Deacon is an English fashion designer, Creative Director and founder of Giles Deacon group, Couture Fashion House. Deacon was employed by the fashion houses Bottega Veneta and Gucci, before founding his own label, GILES, in 2003. He launched his first collection for GILES at the 2004 London Fashion Week and was named "Best New Designer" at the British Fashion Awards. Deacon's designs have been met with critical acclaim and have sparked a renewed interest in London fashion. Deacon has been known to challenge the traditional ideas of womenswear and often uses wild prints and pop culture references in his designs.
Roy Halson Frowick's designs are usually minimalist, clean and often made of cashmere or Ultrasuede. They were a new phenomenon in the mid-1970s discotheques and redefined American fashion. Halston was known for creating a relaxed urban lifestyle for American women. His fame rose when he designed the pillbox hat Jacqueline Kennedy wore to the inauguration of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1961. In the late 1960s, Halston made the transition to women's clothing, opening a boutique on Madison Avenue in New York and started a ready-to-wear line.
Iris Van Herpen
Fashion designer Iris van Herpen is internationally recognised as one of fashion’s most talented and forward-thinking creators who continuously pushes the boundaries of fashion design. Since her first show in 2007, van Herpen has been preoccupied with developing new forms and methods of sartorial expression by combining the most traditional and the most radical materials and garment construction methods into her unique aesthetic vision. Today, van Herpen continues to work within her Amsterdam studio, where new ideas are born, and where Haute Couture orders are meticulously crafted for her global clientele, each creation passing through the designer’s own hands.
Jonathan Anderson founded fashion label JW Anderson in 2008 and lived in Northern Ireland during his youth. The brand mostly focuses on menswear but started focusing on womenswear in 2010. From 2012 onwards, the brand and its designer have collaborated with a number of retail fashion brands, most notably Topshop and Versace. In September 2016, JW Anderson announced their first exhibition Disobedient Bodies from March to June in 2017. The show was aimed to create a discussion on the theme of the human body and more specifically how each body part can disobey. More than 100 works were presented including Issey Miyake and Yves Saint Laurent.
Jean Paul Gaultier
In 1982, Gaultier founded his eponymous fashion label and from 2003 to 2010 he served as the creative director at French luxury house Hermès for womenswear. When he was younger he began to send sketches to famous couture stylists at an early age instead of seeking formal training as a designer. French-Italian designer Pierre Cardin was impressed by his talent and hired him as an assistant in 1970. Gaultier was the creative director of Hermès from 2003 to 2010 and is most well known for the 2003–04 exhibit in the Costume Institute of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled "Braveheart: Men in Skirts," which showed designs by Dries van Noten, Vivienne Westwood, and Rudi Gernreich which was for"designers and individuals who have appropriated the skirt as a means of injecting novelty into male fashion, as a means of transgressing moral and social codes, and as a means of redefining an ideal masculinity."
Anna Wintour herself wearing a Karl Lagerfeld outfit, whom she was a friend of till his passing in 2019. He was known as the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, a position held from 1983 until his death, was also the creative director of the Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi and of his own fashion label. He collaborated on a variety of fashion and art-related projects. Lagerfeld first came into the fashion world when he entered a coat design competition sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. He won the coat category and befriended Yves Saint Laurent, who won the dress category, and was soon after hired by Pierre Balmain. He worked as Balmain's assistant, and later apprentice, for three years, thus beginning his career.
Louis Vuitton Malletier, commonly referred to as Louis Vuitton is a French fashion house and luxury retail company founded in 1854. For six consecutive years (2006–2012), Louis Vuitton has been named the world's most valuable luxury brand. LV originally started as a brand for luggage to create light and practical ways of storage. In 1901, the Louis Vuitton Company introduced the 'Steamer Bag', a smaller piece of luggage designed to be kept inside Vuitton luggage trunks and went on to creating the 'speedy bag' thus starting the development for leather goods, and eventually fashion. On 26 March 2018, Virgil Abloh (pictured) was named artistic director of men's wear, replacing Kim Jones who had departed for Dior. He is the label's first African-American artistic director and one of few black designers of a major European fashion house. His debut show was held at the 2018 Paris Men's Fashion Week and staged in the historical Palais-Royal gardens' courtyard.
Founded by Jeanne Lanvin, this brand was established in 1889 and is the third oldest French fashion house. Lanvin first made clothes for her daughter, Marie-Blanche de Polignac, which began to attract the attention of a number of wealthy people, who requested copies for their own children. Soon, Lanvin was making dresses for their mothers and some of the most famous names in Europe. The Lanvin logo shows a mother and daughter wearing gowns that were inspired by a photograph taken for Jeanne Lanvin as she attended a ball with her daughter wearing matching outfits in 1907.
Italian high-fashion brand Miu Miu is a sister-brand and fully owned by Prada and was established in 1993. They opened their first independent store in China in 2009 and in 2011, Miu Miu launched the Women's Tales series. The campaign consisted of short films that were produced in conjunction with high-profile female directors. The outcome was a list of short, silent films that featured Miu Miu's collections and was shown at the 69th Venice International Film Festival.
Marchesa is named after socialite Marchesa Luisa Casati and is an American brand based in New York City. The brand was founded by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig as Chapman first started working as a costume designer and Craig working in textiles and embroidery. Marchesa proves to be a red carpet favourite as many Hollywood actresses choose this particular designer to be pictured in.
Founded in 1983 by Franco Moschino, this Italian fashion house specialises in leather accessories, shoes, luggage and fragrances. Moschino and his fashion label first became famous for his innovative, colourful and sometimes eccentric designs. But also for his love of fairies. The brand consists of several labels: Moschino (women's and men's mainline), Moschino Cheap and Chic (women's secondary line, created in 1988), Love Moschino (women's and men's diffusion line, known as Moschino Jeans from 1986 to 2008), in order of exclusivity. In addition, accessories, jewellery, watches, perfume and cosmetics, and even jet helmets are sold under the Moschino brand.
Founded by Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela in 1988, he is known for constructive and avant-garde designs with unconventional materials. Maison Margiela has traditionally held live shows in unusual settings, for example, empty metro stations and street corners. Models' faces are often obscured by fabric or long hair to direct attention to the clothes and design. Maison Margiela's designs are also famous for deconstruction style traits such as exposed seams, being oversized and upcycling garments. Margiela is known for showcasing collections in atypical settings and manners, withThe New York Times describing the shows as "alternately electrifying or humorous or sexy or just plain weird.". They also designed the wardrobe for Kanye West's Yeezus tour in 2013.
The honorary chairman and chief creative officer of his own brand, Michael Kors' affinity for fashion started when he was very young. His mother thought it might have been caused in part by his exposure to the clothing industry through her modelling career. Michael, at the age of five, even redesigned his mother's wedding dress for her second marriage. The MICHAEL Michael Kors line was launched in 2004, joining the original Michael Kors Collection label. It includes women's handbags and shoes as well as women's ready-to-wear apparel. As of the end of the first fiscal quarter in 2016, Kors had over 770 lifestyle stores around the world.
American fashion designer Marc Jacobs was creative director of Louis Vuitton between 1997-2014 and was on Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People In The World" in 2010. From first working as a stock boy when he was 15 years old, he eventually went on to designing and sold his first line of hand-knit sweaters. In 1987, he was the youngest designer to have ever been awarded the fashion industry's highest tribute, the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Perry Ellis Award for "New Fashion Talent". Jacobs was one of the first fashion designers to establish this "streetwise aesthetics – a [mash up of] a little preppie, a little grunge, a little couture."
Oscar de la Renta
Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, known professionally as Oscar de la Renta, was a Dominican fashion designer. De la Renta first became internationally known in the 1960s as one of the couturiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy. He has previously worked for Lanvin and Balmain. Being one of seven children, he studied painting in Madrid and for or extra money, he drew clothes for newspapers and fashion houses. Francesca Lodge, the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, saw some of his dress sketches and she commissioned de la Renta to design a gown for her daughter. The dress appeared on the cover of Life magazine that Autumn. He quickly became interested in the world of fashion design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which soon led to an apprenticeship with Spain's most renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga. He considered Cristóbal Balenciaga his mentor.
Off-White is an Italian fashion brand that was founded by Virgil Abloh and once called PYREX VISION. The brand's clothing uses stylised items like its use of quotation marks, zip ties, yellow industrial buckle belt design, and its four-way arrows that create a cross. After criticisms with the brand, Abloh then rebranded the company as Off-White, which he describes as "the grey area between black and white as the colour off-white" to the fashion world.
Starting in 1913 by Mario Prada and his brother Martino as a leather goods store. It initially sold trunks, animal goods and handbags. Mario was someone who didn't believe that women should have a role in business, so he prevented female family members from entering his company. Ironically, Mario's son harboured no interest in the business, so it was his daughter Luisa Prada who took the helm of Prada as his successor and ran it for almost twenty years. Her own daughter, Miuccia Prada, joined the company in 1970, eventually taking over for her mother in 1978. In 1992, the high fashion brand Miu Miu, named after Miuccia's nickname, launched. Miu Miu catered to younger consumers, such as celebrities.
Prabal Gurung is a Nepalese-American designer based in New York. Before entering the fashion universe, Gurung earned a bachelors degree in hotel management but had always been interested in clothing and colours. After moving to New Delhi, India, he attended the National Institute of Fashion Technology and did apprenticeships at fashion and production houses. Whilst working under Manish Arora, he grew as a designer that surrounded the "brilliance of Bollywood to the fabrics, embroideries, and textures you can find at Chandni Chowk to the fast-paced streets of Mumbai."
An award-winning Irish hat designer who was described by Vogue magazine as "perhaps the greatest living milliner". He has won British Accessory Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards five times and has received public honours in both Britain and Ireland. His designs have been displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Aged at 23, he was asked by Karl Lagerfeld to come to the Chanel showrooms in Paris which was the start of a long-term working relationship. Treacy has designed hats for Alexander McQueen, including his 1999 white collection for Givenchy in Paris, for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, and for Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Versace and Rifat Ozbek. In January 2000, he became the first milliner for eighty years to be invited to exhibit at the Paris shows.
Ralph Lauren: fashion designer, philanthropist and billionaire businessman. The Ralph Lauren Corporation started in 1967 with men's ties. Then at 28 years of age, Lauren worked for the tie manufacturer Beau Brummell, where he convinced the company's president to let him start his own line. Drawing on his interests in sports, Lauren named his first full line of menswear 'Polo' in 1968. In 1972, the Ralph Lauren Corporation first introduced their signature cotton mesh Polo shirt in various colours. It featured the polo player logo at the chest and since then, the shirt became emblematic of the preppy look—one of Ralph Lauren's signature styles. The tagline for the ad campaign was: "Every team has its colour – Polo has seventeen."
Known for exotic prints and for creating the sand-blasted look for jeans, Cavalli first, in the early 1970s, invented and patented a printing procedure on leather and started creating patchworks of different materials. He debuted these techniques in Paris, immediately getting commissions from the likes of Hermès and Pierre Cardin.
Ralph & Russo
A privately held company owned and founded by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo. Founded in 2010, the fashion house began in Mayfair, London and in 2014, it was announced that it had become the first British fashion house to be accredited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in over a century. It was announced that after 2018, Ralph & Russo would be releasing their ready-to-wear collection and after premiering in the spring, Vogue described it as a "new iteration of luxury, made in London but cut for everyone who can afford it."