Ever since its first “Fashion Plate”-themed event in 1971, the Met Gala has remained an annual playground for the kind of visionary, no-holds-barred glamour that’s otherwise reserved for photo shoots. No wonder, then, that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has also been the site of iconic beauty transformations sure to spark trends—and more than a few headlines.
At 2015’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” fete, Dakota Johnson soaked up the spotlight with her long ingenue ponytail chopped to a springy chin length—and arguably set off the wave of bobs that’s still sweeping the Instagram set. Gisele Bündchen’s steamy bronze glow in 1999 was just as prescient, elevating bombshell nudes into the gold standard of summer makeup.
And yet, for a certain kind of red carpet regular, the Met Gala is less about perfecting a signature look than an opportunity to walk the line between whimsical and dramatic. Take Cher, who paired a sparkling Bob Mackie confection with sculptural earrings and a wash of lavender eyeshadow in 1985, while Beyoncé went from Sasha Fierce to avant-garde vamp with the help of a slicked-down style and a smoldering violet lip in 2014—and Rihanna won the 2015 red carpet with the help of a gilded headdress and a transformative set of eyebrows.
Perhaps the most boundary-pushing gala yet, 2019’s “Camp: Notes on Fashion”-themed festivities inspired bright palettes, and even outfit changes, as Lady Gaga made her entrance onto the red carpet wearing a set of oversized gold lashes and a head-turning platinum bob.
In 2022, the Met Gala returned with the second installation of “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” and guests interpreted the “gilded glamour” dress code through makeup, hair accessories, and glowing complexions. Ahead of the 2023 Met Gala, we’ve rounded up the best beauty looks to debut at the gala over the years. From impeccably detailed updos to next-level makeup, they’re still iconic even decades later.