Met Gala: The stories behind six of the most captivating outfits

Amber Heard, Lily Collins and Rita OraImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Rocking the headwear: Amber Heard, Lily Collins and Rita Ora

The annual Met Gala is the fashion industry’s night of nights.

The star-studded party raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Costume Institute – but is also basically a chance for extremely beautiful people to wear extremely beautiful clothes.

This year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination – also the title of the Met’s new exhibition.

Met Gala: The stories behind six of the most captivating outfits
Met Gala: The stories behind six of the most captivating outfits

And the stars didn’t hold back with their outfits.

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Media captionCelebrities hit the red carpet at the Met Gala sporting outfits inspired by Catholicism

At this point, we’re surely all well aware of Katy Perry’s angel wings and Rihanna’s Pope-inspired costume, so let’s take a look at some of the others.

Here are the stories behind six of the night’s most memorable dresses.

1. Blake Lively’s dress took (at least) 600 hours to create

Blake LivelyImage copyrightReuters

The 30-year-old actress’s Versace gown involved intricate gold designs embellished on dark red satin – topped with a jewel-encrusted gold bodice.

“This year’s may be my favourite dress ever,” the Gossip Girl star told Vogue in March. “They’ve already worked on it for 600 hours, and it’s not done.”

On the night, the actress also reportedly had to travel to the ball in a party bus that was big enough to accommodate the voluminous gown.

It’s Lively’s second year in a row wearing Versace – after 2017’s mermaid dress, which had a feathered train that was colour co-ordinated with husband Ryan Reynolds’ bow tie.

(She left Reynolds at home this year – possibly so he could practise his Celine Dion dance routines – and took designer Christian Louboutin as her date instead.)

2. Ariana Grande channelled the Sistine Chapel ceiling

Ariana GrandeImage copyrightPA

Look closely and you’ll see Ariana aced this year’s dress code, with religious imagery seamlessly but prominently blended into her Vera Wang creation.

The singer’s off-the-shoulder dress featured a painting of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, which is housed at the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.

The dress also referenced the Met’s new exhibition – which includes pieces from the chapel’s sacristy.

“This is the Sistine Chapel ceiling-slash-back wall, it’s the Last Judgement scene, and it’s where Christ decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell,” Grande helpfully explained.

3. (Cardi) B is for baby bump

Cardi BImage copyrightGetty Images

You probably won’t be finding this in the maternity section of H&M.

A pregnant Cardi B wore a jewel-encrusted gown designed by Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino.

The rapper is expecting her first child with fiance Offset this summer.

“There is nothing more heavenly and divine than pregnancy,” said Scott – a man clearly unfamiliar with morning sickness.

The Bodak Yellow star rocked her first ever Met Gala red carpet with ease, ensuring that this appearance is unlikely to be her last.

4. Sarah Jessica Parker depicted the entire nativity scene on her head

Sarah Jessica ParkerImage copyrightGetty Images

We’re not even joking.

“I’m a stickler for the theme,” Kim Cattrall’s favourite co-star told People in 2013 – a policy she certainly stuck to on Monday night.

The actress wore a metallic Dolce & Gabbana dress (the designers are “devoted observant Catholics”, she told reporters), which featured long train with gold embroidery and red heart accents.

Her date for the evening – US TV personality Andy Cohen – wasn’t a massive fan, however, joking that the dress was “the bane of my existence” and that he was “going to step all over it” during an Instagram story they filmed en route to the Gala.

But far more important than the dress was the elaborate headgear – a blinged-up manger depicting an entire nativity scene to scale.

5. Nicki Minaj played devil’s advocate

Nicki MinajImage copyrightReuters / Getty

The rapper’s devil-red dress was precisely the opposite of the “Heavenly” theme alluded to on the invitation – but Minaj said that’s exactly what she was going for.

“I’m the bad guy and I wanted to make sure the bad guy was here,” she said.

(The term “bad guy “is conveniently also a reference to the lyrics of her new single Chun-Li, and Minaj took the opportunity to announce her new album title and release date on the red carpet.)

The star’s Oscar de la Renta dress was topped with an elaborate headpiece, which came complete with mini crucifixes.

6. When in doubt, go dressed as a stained-glass window

Gigi HadidImage copyrightPA

Gigi Hadid looked stunning in her Versace dress, which saw multi-coloured panels – to represent shards of glass – woven together with glistening golden thread.

The model has attended the Met Gala every year since 2015, and her outfits have become more ambitious over time.

In 2016, she and then-boyfriend Zayn Malik memorably showed up in robotic costumes to match that year’s theme – Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

Her dedication to the Met Gala helps explain why Donatella Versace – co-host of the event – personally picked out the design for her this year.

“Gigi, can’t wait to see you at the Met. Enjoy another robe for the collection,” Donatella posted on Instagram prior to her arrival.

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